#2016Highlights Month-by-Month: Part 1

Though the end of 2016 was a miserable fucker of a bitch, most of the year was awesome, and it’s important that we have a little perspective. At my house, we have a dinner ritual called “Good Thing/Bad Thing” or GTBT. We each take turns saying one good thing that happened during the day and one bad thing. Each person only gets one of each at each turn, no one can comment on anyone else’s GTBT, and a bad thing can’t be directed at complaining about someone else at the table. It’s allowed to have good things without bad things but not vice versa. The point of the activity is to avoid the family trap of just bitching about people and things. So I’m going to make sure I end the year by highlighting stuff that happened and that I have at least as many good things to report as bad things. Frankly, I think more good stuff happened. Most of the bad stuff is piddly, embarrassing, and nothing I really want to be sharing with you people. No offense.

January

What the heck happened in January? I’m drawing a total blank. I went almost a year between blog posts this year, so I’ve lost track of many things. Fortunately, I started using Google Photos to back up photos from all my devices around then, so I can relive the year through photos.

Actually, I’ll start in December. The ALLELE series hosted my good friend and co-author Dr. Becky Burch for a talk on “The Chemistry of Semen.” Becky and I came out of the same lab at the University of Albany, and her research on semen is amazing. In particular, I like the feminist perspective she brings to the research to give it, in my opinion, credibility within the very fraught field of evolutionary psychology.

Rebecca Burch | ALLELE Series from UA College of Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.

January was marked by family landmarks. My son Bailey got braces. Getting braces was a big deal for me as a kid. A big developmental marker.

And he looks really friggin’ cool.

February

SEEPS Inaugural Meeting

The inaugural Southeastern Evolutionary Perspectives Society (SEEPS) conference took place over Darwin Day weekend (12-14).

The first SEEPS crew, February 13, 2016.

The first SEEPS crew, February 13, 2016.

I hosted it in Tuscaloosa and think it was quite a success. So much so that we’re doing it there again in 2017. Evolutionary anthropologist Dean Falk was the keynote speaker.

Me with Dean Falk at the SEEPS keynote banquet, February 12, 2016.

Me with Dean Falk at the SEEPS keynote banquet, February 12, 2016.

March

Since I study religion, commitment, and cooperation as much as evolution, I love a good ritual celebration. A few years ago, Mount Olive Baptist Church in Coker, AL started hosting a drive-through Easter celebration with the Stations of the Cross, so we try to go once a year.

The drive-through Stations of the Cross Easter performance at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Coker, AL.

The drive-through Stations of the Cross Easter performance at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Coker, AL.

American Journal of Human Biology published our article on tattooing and immune response (“Tattooing to “Toughen up”: Tattoo experience and secretory immunoglobulin A”). online ahead of print.

At the end of the month, the Religious Studies Department hosted an ALLELE lecture by William “Lee” McCorkle. It was great to meet Lee, as we have a lot in common research-wise, and he’s also a rock guy.

Lee McCorkle braved the raging storm to give an ALLELE lecture on the cognitive science of religion in March.

Lee McCorkle braved the raging storm to give an ALLELE lecture on the cognitive science of religion in March.

Lately we’ve been messaging to try to hook him up with another type of gig, as his band just finished up an album and are going on tour.

April

HBA/AAPA Conference in Atlanta

April is a big conference time, when the Human Biology Association and American Association of Physical Anthropologists (and 2-3 other related societies) meet.

HBERGers (clockwise from front) Ashley Daugherty, Caity Walker, Nick Roy, Kayleigh Meighan, Jessica Muzzo, & Connor Fasel at AAPA in Atlanta, GA.

HBERGers (clockwise from front) Ashley Daugherty, Caity Walker, Nick Roy, Kayleigh Meighan, Jessica Muzzo, & Connor Fasel at AAPA in Atlanta, GA.

This year was in nearby Atlanta, so we took a crew of students from my Human Behavioral Ecology Research Group.

With friends Mia Gallo, Kyrie Nelder, and Nat Graham my former undergrad!).

At the HBA meeting in Atlanta, with friends Mia Gallo, Kyrie Nelder, and Nat Graham (my former undergrad!) from UAlbany.

I also got to see old friends from grad school of fellow Larry Schell students at the University at Albany.

Me my good friend writing group partner Cara Ocobock at AAPA.

Me my good friend writing group partner Cara Ocobock at AAPA.

And newer friends who I see almost every week online (in the Human Biology Writing Group we started after an HBA meeting in 2012) but only a few times a year in person. My friend Cara was cagey around my UAlbany friends and adviser because she was up for a job there and later got hired. She’s now right next door to Larry, and her lab is right across the hall for my old TA office.

At the AAPA meeting in Atlanta with Twitter (& now real life) friends (clockwise from front-center) Caitlin Schrein, Alexander Georgiev, Marc Kissel, Austin Lawrence, me, Julienne Rutherford. (Photo by Caitlin Schrein)

At the AAPA meeting in Atlanta with Twitter (& now real life) friends (clockwise from front-center) Caitlin Schrein, Alexander Georgiev, Marc Kissel, Austin Lawrence, me, Julienne Rutherford. (Photo by Caitlin Schrein)

And friends I initially met blogging and on Twitter but who I now look forward to reconnecting with in person at the meetings.

Lee Berger gifts Alabama Natural History Museum Bill Bomar a Homo naledi cast at his ALLELE/ANHM co-sponsored talk.

Lee Berger gifts Alabama Natural History Museum Bill Bomar a Homo naledi cast at his ALLELE/ANHM co-sponsored talk.

Since we knew world famous paleoanthropologist Lee Berger was in country to give a big series of talks at the AAPA meeting, we invited him to UA to give a special extra ALLELE lecture organized and hosted by the Alabama Natural History Museum. And when I say “we,” I mean Bill Bomar, Museum Director, who was in the anthropology club at Georgia Southern as an undergrad! I keep telling students to get involved and the connections they make now will pay off down the road. Mm hmm.

One of my favorite class activities in "Evolution for Everyone" is when friend artist Charlotte Wrgzynowski gives a guest lecture teachers naturalist drawing.

One of my favorite class activities in “Evolution for Everyone” is when friend artist Charlotte Wegryznowski gives a guest lecture teachers naturalist drawing.

Since I’m on sabbatical this spring, I won’t be teaching “Evolution for Everyone” for a few years. But for the past few years, I’ve had Charlotte Wegryznowski teach a lecture on naturalist drawing, which is the highlight for me. I love and miss drawing regularly.

May

I was so busy doing other writing that 2016 was my worst blogging year in a while. That was a shame because it was also my most active year, personally and professionally. At the end of the spring semester, we did some family things, like go to the African Village in America. It’s a self-styled museum, created by an eccentric in Birmingham in his yard and other properties that he owns on his street. We weren’t able to go in, but we walked around the amazing property and talked to neighbors. They weren’t so stoked on it. It’s quite the roadside attraction.

For Mothers Day, we visited the eccentric African Village in America In Birmingham, AL.

For Mothers Day, we visited the eccentric African Village in America In Birmingham, AL.

Alabama-Greece Initiative

In May, I spent an amazing week in Thessaloniki, Greece with the Alabama-Greece Initiative. This was really the beginning of living the anthropology career I’ve dreamed about.

Great memories from Thessaloniki — with Tatiana Summers, Luoheng Han, Vaia Touna and Robert Olin in Thessaloníki, Greece. (Photo by Luoheng Han).

Great memories from Thessaloniki — with Tatiana Summers, Associate Dean Luoheng Han, Vaia Touna and Dean Robert Olin in Thessaloníki, Greece. (Photo by Luoheng Han).

I have to thank my Dean and Associate Deans of Arts and Sciences for the support they give our programs and opportunities they create.

The nearby market during a week in Thessoloniki, Greece with the UA-Greece Initiative, May 2016.

The nearby market during a week in Thessoloniki, Greece with the UA-Greece Initiative, May 2016.

The Greece Initiative is a collaboration with Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh), where we got a fantastic tour of the Greek statuary archives in the Anthropology Department.

A great statuette of Athena from the teaching archives of the Anthropology Department in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

A great statuette of Athena from the teaching archives of the Anthropology Department in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

AUTh also has some amazing hominid skulls found in the region that we were shown in the Geology Department. The Petralona Skull is a 160-200,000 year old that has been classified variously as Homo heidelbergensis, Homo erectus, and Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.

We got to see the real Petralona skull (160-200kyo) in the Geology Dept in Aristotle University.

We got to see the real Petralona skull (160-200kyo) in the Geology Dept in Aristotle University.

We were also shown Ouranopithcus macedoniensis, which is a late Miocene ape, probably related or ancestral to gorillas.

Ouranopithecus macedoniensis, a late Miocene ape.

Ouranopithecus macedoniensis, a late Miocene ape.

Part of the trip included a tour of the Archaeological Museum and site at Pella, where Alexander the Great was born and his father Phillip II ruled from.

Sex acts depicted on the inside of ancient Greek pottery from the museum at Pella, birthplace of Alexander the Great.

Sex acts depicted on the inside of ancient Greek pottery from the museum at Pella, birthplace of Alexander the Great.

Drawing of the sex acts depicted on the inside of ancient Greek pottery from the museum at Pella, birthplace of Alexander the Great.

Drawing of the sex acts depicted on the inside of ancient Greek pottery from the museum at Pella.

Drawing of the sex acts depicted on the inside of ancient Greek pottery from the museum at Pella, birthplace of Alexander the Great.

Another drawing of the sex acts depicted on the inside of ancient Greek pottery from the museum at Pella.

But we didn’t need to travel to see ancient ruins of course. It’s Greece. They are everywhere.

The ancient Greek market in Thessaloniki.

The ancient Greek market in Thessaloniki.

Upon return from Greece, I spent a month banging out two articles about HBERG and our outreach program, which were published in November. I’m super proud of both and blogged about the HBERG model for Anthropology News and the outreach program here earlier this month.

June

Yellowstone Park, Mount Rushmore, Badlands, Little Bighorn

My parents took us on an amazing family vacation in June. We packed up into a van together (7 people, 2 chihuahuas, 1 husky) and went to the Badlands, Little Bighorn, Mount Rushmore, Bozeman, and Yellowstone Park. I stuck a bunch of photos in this Flickr album but below are a few highlights.

Why do they call them The Badlands, you ask? Behold. Yet majestic.

Why do they call them The Badlands, you ask? Behold. Yet majestic.

U.S. soldier grave markers pepper Little Bighorn National Monument.

U.S. soldier grave markers pepper Little Bighorn National Monument.

Jagger and I at Mount Rushmore.

Jagger and I at Mount Rushmore.

We spent a few days in Bozeman, MT, which is just lovely. Very arty, lovely, and, um, well, white. And I don’t mean all the snow, since it was summer, which makes it a little painful to like. But there you have it.

Gallifrey surveying the dog park in Bozeman, MT.

Gallifrey surveying the dog park in Bozeman, MT.

The dog park was so big I couldn’t let poor Gallifrey off the leash anyway (have you ever tried to catch a husky who doesn’t want to be caught? he thinks you’re just playing rough).

The dinosaur fossils at Museum of the Rockies are an evolutionist (& kid) dream.

The dinosaur fossils at Museum of the Rockies are an evolutionist (& kid) dream.

The Museum of the Rockies is a great dinosaur fossil museum. There were several exhibits on the work of Mary Schweitzer, who we had as an ALLELE speaker several years ago. That was exciting for me to good out on and pontificate to the kids about. They love that too.

In this cage we have the cerebral paleontologist in an enriched habitat — at Museum of the Rockies.

In this cage we have the cerebral paleontologist in an enriched habitat — at Museum of the Rockies.

My parents rented a cabin in Pray, MT, from which we ventured out to go fly fishing and into Yellowstone Park.

View from our cabin in Pray, MT.

View from our cabin in Pray, MT.

Yellowstone Park is truly spectacular. It blew my mind. Now I understand why it was the world’s first national park and why the U.S. government saw fit to preserves thousands of acres in an era characterized by manifest destiny, settlement, and development.

Being out of the car having a big guy look right at is definitely a little intimidating.

Being out of the car having a big guy look right at is definitely a little intimidating.

It is, as expected, the most touristy park I’ve ever been in—has its own towns!—and simultaneously the wildest. And we barely scratched the surface. We definitely need to go back for more.

2016 was so action-packed that I can’t fit it all in one pithy blog post. 2016 did not suck. Some aspects of it were awful. Truly awful. But others were wonderful.

Happy New Year to everyone. Buck up. Time to rock 2017. After I finish “Part 2.”

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
This entry was posted in American Anthropological Association, American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Anthropology, Biological Anthropology, Biological Anthropology Section of AAA, Christopher Lynn, Conferences, Evolution Conference, Human Biology Association and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *