The members of the SAIE lab include faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows of the Department of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. The SAIE lab is a center for teaching and research development within the university and a base for collaboration with scholars from other institutions. If you are interested in collaborating with researchers from the SAIE lab or would like more information about opportunities for research, please contact SAIE director Michael Frachetti for further information.

SAIE Faculty & Researchers:


Dr. Michael Frachetti

Director, SAIE LAB
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology

My research centers on the study of Bronze Age nomadism in the Eurasian Steppe. Specifically, I am interested in understanding patterns of mobility of prehistoric pastoralists as they relate to the regional ecological variation, and dynamic social interactions. My work uses Geographic Information Systems, Remote Sensing, and Spatial Modeling to explore all aspects of social landscapes and their formation including settlement patterning, resources capacity, range ecology, burial and ritual constructions, and the impact of climate and climate change. In addition, I am also engaged with a number of other spatial analysis projects concerning Medieval Islamic landscapes in North Africa, as well Scythian burial geography in Ukraine.


Elissa Bullion

Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology
My research focus is on bioarchaeology and mortuary practices of populations across Central Asia. My dissertation work specifically focuses on a medieval population at the Karakhanid site of Tashbulak in the highlands of Uzbekistan. Through osteological, molecular, and contextual analysis, my research explores the roles of imperial institutions and local identities in broader processes of globalization. I plan on using spatial analysis to interpret distributions of biological and material attributes in burials to aid in this interpretation. I also use spatial analysis and GIS in my work to examine how burials are a part of wider social and ritual landscapes in both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. 


Edward R. Henry

Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology

My research interests are grounded in social landscapes and span topics of mobility and complexity among transient societies, as well as urbanism. I explore issues of mobility and complexity through ancient societies who interacted across Eastern North America during the Early and Middle Woodland periods (ca. 1000 BCE to CE 500), as well as Bronze Age through Medieval-period pastoralists in Central Asia. My research on urbanism has occurred at Mississippian sites (e.g., Cahokia) in the American Midwest and Southeast, and also in Central Asia. I use a suite of remote sensing methods (e.g., aerial photography, LiDAR, and archaeological geophysics) and GIS-based analyses to assess how places are constructed on the landscape and to examine their spatial relationships. In doing so, I address questions related to temporality, expanding inequality, specialization, and religious participation.


Alexander Rivas

Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology

My research has focused on Amazonian and Maya archaeology.  I am currently using GIS, remote sensing, and predictive modeling to document long distance travel routes in the Maya lowlands.  I am also working on a project in the Beni, Bolivia, using ceramic assemblages to understand the Llanos de Mojos landscape and the extent of the initial Arawak expansion.


Kelly Ervin

Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology

Space is a critical dimension to understanding human behavior. Using geospatial technologies, my research focuses on mapping and making sense of human-environment interactions on the global grid. I am particularly interested in mechanisms for change in prehistory. How did people respond to fluctuating climates and environmental settings during the Holocene? What are the effects of early urbanism on human ecology and why do these urban centers develop where they do? How can numerically structured spatial statistics and predictive models reveal human agency? To answer these questions I combine GIS, the earth sciences, and ecology to reconstruct past anthropogenic landscapes.

Joy Mersmann

Undergraduate Student, Department of Anthropology

As an Archaeology and Computer Science double major, I am particularly interested in the development and potential applications of new technologies to the field of archaeology. Using GIS and spatial analysis, I am currently working on research related to Poverty Point and the surrounding area, investigating the interaction of temporally disparate cultures in an area with a visibly deep culture chronology. In the future, I hope to study more on the development of early cities, the impact of constructed landscapes on culture, and early domestication. 

Alex Ganninger

Graduate Student

Alex Ganninger is a recent graduate of Dartmouth College where he studied English and German. Currently, Alex is enrolled in the post-baccalaureate, premedical program at Washington University in St. Louis. Outside of his classes, he enjoys reading, traveling, and skiing. With his background in critical theory and urban studies, Alex is excited to join the SAIE Lab and contribute to its work on social landscapes. 

Jerry Chen

Undergraduate Student

As a Chemistry Major and Anthropology: Global Health and Environment minor, my interest stems from the agglomerate of these two disciplines. Much like modeling electrons in quantum mechanics, I am particularly interested in modeling the changing dynamics of settlements and interactions. The research done at SAIE Lab pertains to the fundamentals of anthropology and is pertinent to further understanding the dynamics of human interactions. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be working in SAIE Lab. 











Dr. Patrick Daly

Research fellow | Asia Research Institute

Dr. Daly's research focuses upon the relationships between social practice and material culture, with particular reference to change brought about by foreign intervention, occupation, and colonization. For the past five years, he has been focusing upon later prehistoric cultural interaction around the South China Sea.


Dr. Alexei Mar'yashev

Professor, Kazakhstan National Academy of Science

Alexei Mar’yashev is a senior researcher at the A. Kh. Margulan Institute of Archaeology in Almaty, Kazakhstan. He specializes in Bronze Age archaeology of Kazakhstan and has carried out archaeological surveys and excavations in the Tian Shan Mountains and Semirech’ye for over 30 years. He is also a specialist in Central Asian rock-art studies and a noted national alpinist.


Dr. Robert Spengler

Mellon/Volkswagen Post-doctoral Fellow, Berlin German / German Archaeological Insititute

I am currently conducting comparative archaeobotanical analyses of flotation samples from sites in southeastern Kazakhstan (Semirech’ye), focusing on the poorly understood time periods of the Middle to Late Bronze Age (2300-800 B.C.) and Iron Age (800 B.C.-A.D. 500). The purpose of this work is to elucidate patterns of plant use at each site through time and to combine this information with other archaeological data sets.


Dr. Paula Doumani Dupuy

Volkswagen Post-doctoral fellow, Kiel University (Germany)

My research focus is on Bronze Age societies in the Eurasian Steppe. My work to date has been to produce the ceramic typology for a prehistoric site, Begash, in eastern Kazakhstan. I am currently working to apply scientific methods in the study of this assemblage that will enable the raw materials used in the ceramic production to be provenienced. My ultimate aim is to study the social and economic landscape of Bronze Age populations in the steppe and determine the nature of their interactions through time.


Dr. Lynne Rouse

Lecturer, Department of Anthropology

My research interests are centered around social and economic interactions, and how at various scales these affect the choices made by populations. Previously, I have used a combination of GIS, Spatial and Agent-based modeling, and archaeological field data to examine the role of metal production during the Bronze Age of southern Jordan, with specific emphasis on how the intensified and specialized production of metal affected pastoral strategies in the same region. I hope to continue this approach of multiple investigative methods in my future research. My upcoming work will shift my geographic focus to Central Asia, however, the emphasis on the strategies of pastoral nomads in the Bronze Age will remain a central part of my work.