Sabbatical is Here!

Have I started relaxing yet? Everyone asks me this. Do y’all not know me? We just arrived at my in-laws for the holiday, & I’m already thinking about how to fill my days. I don’t relax well. But I am excited.

I started by submitting a grant application! Yeah! Fun times! This year I published an article on a preliminary study we conducted in Alabama on immune response to tattooing. We received tons of press (the best being the Jezebel piece, “How One Study Produced a Bunch of Untrue Headlines About Tattoos Strengthening Your Immune System”), but we really need to repeat the study with a larger sample of people who get more tattoos and have more general health stress. So we’re trying to get funds to repeat this study at our field site in American Samoa as follows:

TATTOOING AND IMMUNE RESPONSE IN AMERICAN SAMOA
Abstract: The proposed study tests the hypothesis that tattooing may provide an inoculation effect, priming the immune system and preparing it for pathogenic exposures. I propose to test this inoculation hypothesis of tattooing in American Samoa, which has an extensive tattooing history and high infectious but low immune-related disease rates. Tattooing has been practiced across the world as a rite of passage that supposedly protects the body. However, there are few studies of the mechanisms by which this may work. The proposed study is important in exploring how a cultural practice that seems counterintuitive to promoting health may be protective and has implications for prevention and treatment of autoimmune disease.

We’d like to get down to Tisa’s Tattoo Festival to collect data when people are getting traditional tattoos by master tattooists like this:

After submitting the grant proposal, I jumped in the van and drove the family up to the Hudson Valley, where my EvoS career began, for our annual visit to my in-laws. Speaking of which, a few years ago I came back and gave this talk, which is the subject of the book I’ll be writing on this sabbatical:

http://newpaltz.mediasite.suny.edu/Mediasite/Play/bf12723bc7434681bd88cfea02790be41d?catalog=e5f4c6f4-0f8f-49fa-ab84-ee314450ea83

Here were are, rolling out of Tuscaloosa:

(Photo by Loretta Lynn)

(Photo by Loretta Lynn)

We made great time, but here’s me on Day Two:

And one from my wife:

Gallifrey is super stoked to be here. He is born to the snow. It’s good he lives in Alabama.

Me and Gallifrey upon arrival in NY. (Photo by Loretta Lynn)

Me and Gallifrey upon arrival in NY. (Photo by Loretta Lynn)

Next week, I’m hoping to see some friends in the area. After we head back, I head to Wilmington, NC to work on an NSF grant proposal (yay, more relaxing sabbatical fun!).

In February, I host SEEPS 2017 (see me relaxing?). Speaking of SEEPS, check out the promo video Hannah Tytus made for us: 

SEEPS Annual Conference 2017 from Hannah on Vimeo.

In March, I’m hoping to “swing thru the U.K.” (because that’s what you do on sabbatical—swing thru foreign countries, #likeaboss) and look into setting up an EvoS study abroad program in affiliation with the UA in Oxford program. Check out the course on Charles Darwin and Jack the Ripper our very own Erik Peterson (who is heading up our “Evolution for Everyone” course this coming spring) is teaching next summer!

Then I will head to Madagascar to set up a cultural exchange we’ve been developing for our Anthropology is Elemental program with grant funding from the Wenner Gren Foundation. We’re partnering there with Dustin Eirdosh and Susan Hanisch of Big Red Earth and EvoKids.

Either before leaving or upon returning, I hope to be giving a few talks at UNCW to promote the new Evolution Education in the American South book. Then Michaela Howells and I hope to be giving a talk at Georgia Southern about our study of the influence of Zika on prenatal care access and utilization in American Samoa (thanks to Jessica Carew Kraft for writing “Cultural Factors Complicate Zika Prevention in American Samoa” for NBCNews.com about our work there). In late March or early April, I’ll also be going to my alma mater, the University at Albany, and to UConn and Binghamton University to give talks on the Evolution Education in the American South volume.

In April, I’m involved with several presentations at the Human Biology Association and American Association of Physical Anthropologists annual conferences in NOLA. Michaela and I will present on the Zika study at the HBA, then (cross-fingers, because these are as yet unconfirmed) I hope to be giving a talk on religious commitment signaling for an Invited Joint AAPA/HBA session on signaling theory organized by Michael Muehlenbein. We should have a host of HBERGers representin’ with talks and posters as well!

HBERGers collecting their own saliva samples to learn the protocol for our BREST study.

HBERGers collecting their own saliva samples to learn the protocol for our BREST study.

Afterward, if my wife has not divorced me yet for doing so much traveling while she takes care of the kids, I’ll head down to Costa Rica to visit my PhD student Greg Batchelder in the field, give him some support, check out his life with the Bribri (which Greg has been blogging about a lot here), and try to set up another wing of our Anthropology is Elemental outreach.

Finally, though it’s technically after sabbatical, I plan to get back to American Samoa with Michaela in July to collect data for our tattoo and Zika/prenatal care projects.

American Samoa is a hard place to work, but we endure.

American Samoa is a hard place to work, but we endure.

Christopher Lynn

About Christopher Lynn

Christopher Dana Lynn is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama, where he directs the Evolutionary Studies program.  Chris teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in biological anthropology, human sexuality, evolution, biocultural medical anthropology, and neuroanthropology.  He received his Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology in 2009 from the University at Albany, SUNY, where his doctoral focus was on the influence of speaking in tongues on stress response among Pentecostals.  Chris runs a human behavioral ecology research group where the objectives include studying fun gimmicky things like trance, religious behavior, tattooing, and sex as a way of introducing students to the rigors of evolutionary science.  In all his “free” time, he breaks up fights among his triplet sons, enjoys marriage to the other Loretta Lynn, strokes his mustache, and has learned to be passionate about Alabama football (Roll Tide!).  Follow Chris on Twitter: @Chris_Ly
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