Special Programs and Facilities

Special Programs offered by the Anthropology Department

The Department of Anthropology and the University have a number of special facilities and programs to facilitate graduate training and research.

The Institute for Mesoamerican Studies (IMS) is an internationally recognized and independently endowed research center that facilitates research in Mesoamerica, publishes monographs, sponsors conferences and visiting speakers, and distributes grants to graduate students. Through the IMS, faculty and students have conducted individual and joint research projects in Mesoamerican prehistory, ethnology, linguistics and biological anthropology. Through this work, students have obtained high quality field training and research opportunities. Students from the US, Latin America and Spain have participated in IMS sponsored multi-disciplinary fieldwork programs in Guatemala, Mexico, Belize and Costa Rica. IMS awards annually the DeCormier Scholarship, a grant for graduate student field work in Mesoamerica.

The Department conducts ethnography and archaeology field schools. Options are sometimes available in Mesoamerica and other locations where university faculty archaeologists maintain active research programs. Graduate students are fully involved in these projects, and several have used this opportunity to collect data for their theses and dissertations, and to gain valuable experience in supervising archaeological investigations.

The Department of Anthropology is closely affiliated with the New York State Museum. This affiliation covers virtually all areas of anthropology. Faculty in the Department serve as consultants to the Museum on a continuing basis and on special projects. Several museum scientists hold adjunct appointments to the faculty of the Department of Anthropology. This affiliation encourages access to research collections in archaeology, ethnology, biology, geology and archives relevant to early New York history and to researchers within the Museum. Museum scientists often offer courses through the Department. These provide instruction in the use of museum collections for anthropological research as well as instruction in curation. In addition, the Department has extensive research and teaching links with the Albany Medical Center and with the University's School of Public Health, all of which contribute to many opportunities for our students in the areas of applied biological anthropology, museology, and historical archaeology.

The Bureau of Historic Sites, which is a branch of the State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, maintains collections and laboratories near Albany on Peebles Island. Students often serve as interns in the bureau, or conduct their own archaeological research using collections housed on Peebles Island. The facility staff is particularly strong in the area of artifact conservation. There are also contract archaeology firms in the area that regularly employ graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Students are able to apply skills learned in field schools and supplement their incomes through employment with such firms.

Close ties with other departments, professional schools, and institutes in the University are maintained by the Department of Anthropology. The Anthropology Department's ties to these centers, institutes, and other departments reflect an awareness of the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary character of anthropology. In particular the Department of Anthropology is affiliated with the Departments of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Classics, Physics, History, Sociology, and Geography and Planning; the Institute for the Humanities; and within the School of Public Health, the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis, the Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities, and the National Research Center on Literature Teaching and Learning. These centers promote research in areas of interest to anthropologists and allow graduate students greater contact with faculty from other departments who have similar interests. Our Department also has extensive links with academic units in Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Belize, which provide opportunities for field work and faculty and graduate student exchange with these countries.


The Department of Anthropology and the University have a large number of facilities and programs to facilitate graduate student training and research. Field and laboratory training is available in all subdisciplines, and we have ongoing field programs in archaeology and ethnology. Laboratory facilities and research collections in archaeology and biological anthropology are available on campus. The Department maintains thirteen laboratories, twelve of which are on the main (uptown) campus; one archaeological lab is located on the downtown campus. The archaeology labs maintain artifact collections from the Northeast and Mesoamerica, while the biological anthropology lab has skeletal research collections on loan from other institutions.

The Department of Physics maintains a Laboratory of Archaeometry as a part of the campus Accelerator Laboratory. The archaeometry facility has instruments for X-Ray fluorescence analysis and thermoluminescence dating primarily for use by archaeologists. Current and recent research projects include source analyses of Mexican obsidian, and thermoluminescence dating of ceramics. Training is available for student use of the linear accelerator, scanning electron microscopes, and other technical equipment, and the Department of Geography and Planning has laboratories and courses for computer cartography and GIS (Geographical Information Systems) research and training. These are located in the Arts and Sciences building.

The University has a number of computer laboratories and user rooms for student use. Both Macintosh and IBM-compatible machines are available. The Department of Anthropology maintains a computer laboratory for student use.

The University Library provides strong support for the instructional and research needs of the department. The monograph collection exceeds one million volumes, of which over 80,000 are directly related to anthropology, and the Library subscribes to approximately 7,500 periodical titles. Several important special collections relevant to anthropology are maintained, including a large collection of facsimile Mesoamerican codices and one of the most complete collections of American historical children's literature pertinent to analyses of social history. The Department of Anthropology acquired the library of anthropologist Morris Opler, which has been incorporated with the other holdings in the University Library. The Library maintains its membership in the Human Relations Area File (HRAF). An active interlibrary loan network and proximity to the resources of the State Library of New York further complement the University's collections.