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New Opportunity for Incoming Graduate Student

PhD position on starch granule analysis in the Arid West

Dr. Lisbeth Louderback, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at University of Utah and Curator of Archaeology at the Natural History Museum of Utah, is searching for a PhD candidate to fill a three-year, fully-funded, graduate research and teaching position. The first three semesters is a research assistant (RA) position that focuses on examining starch granules extracted from bedrock metates in the northern Great Basin that date to the Paleoindian period (~14,500 – 9,000 cal BP). The next three semesters will be a teaching assistant (TA) position in the Anthropology Department at the University of Utah.  We are seeking a candidate with a strong background in lab work and light microscopy. Previous experience in plant biology and/or archaeobotany is a plus. The candidate will be expected to manage all the practicalities of laboratory work, to analyze samples for starch granules, and to assess and publish the resulting data. The position will begin August 2021.

Interested candidates are encouraged to contact Dr. Louderback for additional information (e-mail:

Archaeobotany Laboratory

What We Do

In our lab, we examine the ecology of human diets using archaeobotanical evidence from stratified sites on the Colorado Plateau and in the Great Basin. From our point of view, human diet is an ecological phenomenon dependent upon the supply, harvest, processing and energetic returns of plant and animal resources from natural ecosystems.


Our Tools

Artifacts from archaeological sites (and museum collections), such as ground stone tools, coprolites, basketry, and hearth features provide clues to past human diets and ancient environments. Those clues include macrobotanical remains (leaves, twigs, seeds, fruits) and microbotanical remains (starch granules, pollen grains) that come from plant species having specific environmental signatures and provided food and other benefits to ancient people.


Interdisciplinary Approach

Uniting different disciplines allows us to develop new approaches to answering old questions. We collaborate with researchers in archaeology, plant biology, ecology, genetics, and phytochemistry allowing us to address questions about human resource use, plant domestication and dietary choice in natural environments.


Archaeobotanical Reference Collections

The Archaeobotany Lab houses macrobotanical, starch, and pollen reference collections. These samples were either collected by L. Louderback in the field or were sampled from herbarium specimens.

Last Updated: 6/15/21