back to news May 18, 2017

Kris Gremillion Appointed Chair of the Department of Anthropology

Kris Gremillion has been appointed to serve as chair of the Department of Anthropology. Her appointment begins on June 1, 2017. Gremillion earned her PhD in anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1989 and served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution before joining the faculty in the Department of Anthropology at Ohio State in 1991.

Gremillion is an archaeologist and paleoethnobotanist who studies the evolution of human diet and subsistence practices in ecological context. Her research applies evolutionary theory to explain long-term changes in the ecological relationships between people and their plant resources. She is particularly interested in how and why systems of agriculture and other forms of food production developed in ancient North America.

Gremillion pioneered the application of human behavioral ecology to the explanation of agricultural origins, using optimization models to examine the economic logic of food choice and land use. Her other major area of research is the transmission of botanical knowledge, dietary innovation and the emergence of novel cuisines in the context of colonialism. Her fieldwork has taken her to the cliffs of the Cumblerland Plateau in eastern Kentucky, where protected sandstone overhangs have preserved organic material for thousands of years. She analyzes plant remains from these archaeological sites in order to document the subsistence ecology of the human groups that occupied them.

Gremillion has published many articles on human dietary variability in journals including American Antiquity, Current Anthropology and the Journal of Archaeological Science as well as several edited volumes. In her book, Ancestral Appetites (Cambridge University Press, 2011), Gremillion demonstrates how evolutionary processes have shaped the diversification of human diet over several million years of prehistory. She is working on her second book about indigenous systems of food production in pre-Columbian North America.