Research Areas

The faculty and students in the Department of Anthropology are actively involved in innovative research. Below is an overview of the major subfields and the research led by our faculty. We encourage you to visit the faculty pages to see our current research areas.


Rewarding careers await in archaeology—a fast-growing field in private, nonprofit, and government sectors, especially with respect to environmental anthropology research and the conservation of cultural resources. At UAlbany, we offer research training in theory and methodology, emphasizing the development of field and lab skills relevant to professional careers anywhere in the world. We offer additional specializations in the regional archaeology of eastern North American and Mesoamerica.

Archaeologists engage in collaborative, interdisciplinary research to investigate changing human-environmental relationships, urban planning, rural life, societal collapse and recovery and sustainability. Cross-culturally, we analyze the dynamics of power and inequality. We reconstruct and conserve knowledge and technology, and engage with descendant peoples as we study the perspectives of the world’s traditional societies.

Biological Anthropology

Biological Anthropology is the study of the mechanisms of biological evolution, genetic inheritance, human adaptability and variation, primatology, primate morphology, and the fossil record of human evolution.

At UAlbany, biological anthropologists work across the globe on issues at the intersection of biology and culture. With research site locations extending from New York State to California, northern Scotland, Madagascar, and Kenya, our faculty investigate such diverse topics of human adaptation and change.

They focus on reconstructing human evolution at the world-famous fossil deposits of Lake Turkana in Kenya,  document minority health disparities and compare vital demographic responses—fertility, mortality, aging—to cultural/natural environments. Our anthropologists and anthropology students consider human biomechanics with applications for medical therapy, and study living and fossil primates to better understand the origin of the human lineage and what it means to be human.

Cultural Anthropology

Cultural anthropology addresses what it means to be human in contemporary societies, as well as those of the recent past. Cultural anthropologists systematically explore topics such as gender, social organization, economies, political and legal systems, technology and material culture, language, ideologies and religions, health and illness, and social change.

Cultural anthropology methods include ethnography, a human-centered research approach, and ethnology, the comparison of cultures. UAlbany anthropology faculty carry out work in Central America, the Caribbean, the US and Europe on topics like human rights, public health, work, migration, and economic livelihoods. Cultural anthropology students often participate in their research.

Cultural anthropology fosters creative thinking outside the box, and anthropology majors are valued in human-focused employment opportunities from global corporations to local nonprofits.

Linguistic Anthropology

The field of linguistics probes the very nature of human language, including its structure, function and history.

Language is shaped by social interaction within a community. By contributing to our understanding of human cognition, documenting and preserving endangered languages, advancing machine learning and speech technologies, and supporting language learners, linguists play an important role in modern society around the globe

Linguistics courses on our campus emphasize hands-on experience analyzing worldwide language data. Linguists often collaborate with philologists (specialists in individual languages), psychologists, anthropologists, human rights activists, computer scientists and philosophers. Linguists at UAlbany specialize in the indigenous languages of Eastern and Southern Africa, Mesoamerica, and Polynesia.