The Human Biology Association & American Association of Biological Anthropology annual meetings were held at the Peppermill Resort and Spa in Reno, Nevada this year. Technically, I should list the AABA first because they are the primary sponsor and organizer of the conference. However, I am more active in the HBA and attend more HBA functions, so I set it first in my report.
The Peppermill was an interesting choice. I was looking forward to the excitement of being in a resort hotel for nearly a week, but it wasn't really what I expected. People kept joking that it was a Cheesecake Factory on steroids. However, it will have been memorable, and it was a great conference with excellent presentations, interested students, and fun and creative conversations!
As a member of the HBA Executive Committee, we had a dinner/meeting the first night to prep for the business meeting, and otherwise I hung out with friends/colleagues Eric Shattuck, Cara Ocobock, and Saige Kelmelis.
On Wednesday was the the HBA poster session, plenary, Pearl Memorial Lecture, and HBA Awards Reception. HBERG students Flynn Lewellyn (undergraduate senior) and Lindsey Clark (doctoral student) presented on public engagement via the Sausage of Science Podcast and the Fireside Relaxation Study, respectively.
Thursday was sessions, the HBA Business Meeting, and the Student Speednetworking Reception. There was hanging out in a lounge with live Americana music. There was also a brief attempt to warm up in the outdoor heated pool that backfired, then we went to the AABA Reception.
Friday were the flashtalks in which I presented as the end of the HBA conference. There were AABA sessions all day, the the AABA Business Meeting and Awards Ceremony. My dear friend and colleague Cara Ocobock won a Leakey Foundation Award for Science Communication at the meeting and gave a lovely speech. I may have gotten choked up. Cara invited me as her +1 to mingle with the AABA Executive Committee and awardees for snacks and beverages.
The conference lasted through Saturday, but I left on Saturday, along with many of those I was hanging out with.
It was such a pleasure to give a book talk at FGCU because I was hosted by two of my favorite people in the world. Dr. Nate Pipitone (Psychology) and Dr. Max Stein (Anthropology) hosted my talk, but my favorite part was just getting to watch them in action and talk research. Nate and I went to grad school together. We were both members of Gordon Gallup's Evolutionary Psychology Lab and did a study together at one point on self-deception and mating success. I wrote about the study in my book, though I wish we'd pursued that thread and did more research. Our second study was so confusing that we never published on it, but after hanging out for a few days, I see our research interests are still in complete overlap, and I want to find a way to do some research with him again. Rule of thumb: When you find collaborators you work with well, keep them in your inner circle and find more ways to collaborate. Do as much as much as you can with them and you will be a happier academic.
Max was once a student of mine. I was on his MA and PhD committees, he was my research assistant in Costa Rica for a field season, we co-authored two papers together, and he ran my lab when I was on my first sabbatical back in 2017. I regret not being able to attend his wedding, but I am so proud of what he accomplished in our program, in his personal life with his cool AF family, and in his job as an Anthropology professor at FGCU. I remember when Max popped into my office as a first year MA student to introduce himself. I was standoffish because it annoyed me, but as I've always told him and all students after, my annoyance was my problem. He was among the few students who ever put themselves out there and made themselves known to all of us. Getting a PhD is not easy, but he did many right things, and that was one of them. I have always respected him for getting his needs met and handling us, as faculty, and all our bullshit that we put on students to see if they can rise to the occasion.
I loved talking to their students. I got to meet with Max's "Medical Anthropology" course at 9am, and I pulled out a tattoo lecture to riff on just in case they were quiet. I needn't have bothered; they'd read my book and had questions the whole class period! It was awesome!! And most of the students who asked questions in both classes came to the lecture. Oh, I went to Nate's "Drugs and the Brain" class and riffed with them right after. As I told Nate and Max knows from experience, I love riffing on pop culture and anthropology with students.
I've gotta work on the talk. It's needs to be updated because I drone on and on in some places without enough imagry, and lord knows I've got tons. Too many tables and graphs. But people liked it, I sold some books, and I gave some autographs (I have to work on that too, make it funny or dorky or something).
Another nice piece recently came about tattooing and immune function that I was interviewed for. This one is in Parade Magazine:
American Journal of Biological Anthropology is essentially the flagship journal of US bioanth, yet until this publication I've never even submitted a manuscript to the journal. The main reason is that I've focused more on evolution or psychological/cognitive anthropology journals or AJHB since I've been accepted there repeatedly already. So I'm very excited to announce that my first submission to AJBA was accepted and has been published as a Brief Communication. Here is a link to the article on the journal website, which is the best place to access it to influence the impact factor (have your interest counted). However, it's gonna be behind a paywall eventually, so hit me up if you need access before I eventually post the PDF to my webpage.
Christopher D. Lynn
I am a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alabama with expertise in biocultural medical anthropology.