The Team

The SMU Molecular Anthropology Laboratories are equipped for analyses of ancient DNA, modern DNA, epigenetic marking and endocrinological biomarkers.

Principal Investigator –
K. Ann Horsburgh

Ann earned undergraduate degrees (BA – Anthropology; BSc – Biological Sciences) and a master’s degree (MA – Anthropology) at the University of Auckland, and a PhD (Anthropology) at Stanford University.






Lab Members


Nicolette Edwards, PhD Candidate

Nicolette is currently a PhD student of Anthropology at SMU and entered the program in Fall of 2018. Nicolette received her BA of Anthropology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in Spring 2017, and her MA of Anthropology from SMU in Spring of 2020.

Nicolette’s current dissertation research consists of an ethnoarchaeological project of Central African foragers incorporating isotopic and faunal analysis to study meat-sharing patterns and focusing on women’s role within these social and dietary practices. Nicolette is also interested in the ancient history of Central African foragers, particularly in the Central African Republic (CAR) which is largely overlooked when discussing ancient Tropical Africa.

Niki is a recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and a Garry A. Weber Graduate Fellowship and an Institute of the Study of Earth and Man Research Grant to support a research trip to CAR in December of 2019 and January of 2020 to conduct archaeological excavation at the rock shelter site of Nangara-Komba alongside Dr. Karen Lupo.

Jaxson Haug, PhD Student

Jaxson is a medical anthropology PhD student with a primary background in forensic anthropology. His master’s thesis was focused on positive forensic identification of transgender women using skeletal markers from facial feminization surgery. He has worked as a forensic intern for the Clark County Office of the Coroner and Medical Examiner in Las Vegas, NV from 2013-2015 and as a forensic anthropology intern at the Los Angeles Department of Medical Examiner and Coroner under Drs. Elizabeth Miller and Vicky Wedel from 2017-2020. He was an instructor and osteologist for the Slavia Foundation Mortuary Archaeology Field School in Drawsko, Poland in 2017. Jaxson has also worked as a research assistant under Dr. Joyce Parga at CSULA’s Primate Genetics Lab.

Jaxson’s research interests include: ethics of forensic anthropology, sex and gender identification within forensic anthropology, genetic anthropology, skeletal trauma, intersectional violence, transgender studies, and gender theory.



Riya Reddy

Riya is currently a sophomore undergraduate student majoring in Biology and Human Rights on the pre-med track at SMU. She is interested in the intersection between healthcare and human rights, especially topics in public health and health advocacy. In her free time, Riya enjoys volunteering, tutoring elementary school students, and playing intramural sports at SMU. Riya is currently working on a research project that investigates the association between work-place stress and religiosity in hospice workers.




Elizabeth Bingham Thomas, PhD Candidate

Liz hails from Northern Utah where she received her Bachelors in Cultural Anthropology from Utah State University. She changed her major to anthropology after joining a research lab with a roommate, and she has never looked back. She is passionate about the cultural and medical aspects of Latino immigration to the United States. She loves both the academic and applied sides of anthropology and has worked in a variety of capacities with immigrants and refugees. Most recently, she coordinated the children’s cultural program at the Cache Refugee and Immigrant Connection and worked on research examining the use of robots to help immigrant children in elementary school.

Liz is a recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Lab Alumni


Devri Beckett

Devri won a Fry Undergraduate Fellowship to work in the lab in during the final year of her undergraduate degree. She analyzed DNA from southern African domesticated sheep and worked with Horsburgh and colleague Anna Gosling to publish the results in the journalĀ Biology. She is now working on her MA at the University of Colorado, Denver.




Kara Griffin

Making Scents: Multispecies Teamwork, Security, and Affect Among Canine Search and Rescue Teams (SMU 2021)

Kara completed undergraduate degrees in Psychology, Criminal Justice, and International Relations at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX, and a Masters in Dispute Resolution & Conflict Management at Southern Methodist University while working as a law enforcement professional.

Her research emphasis is a multi-sited study of human/animal interactions in disaster response operations. In her spare time, she volunteers with a K-9 search and rescue team.


Abraham Hwang, MPH

Abraham is an SMU graduate. He earned an MPH at the University of Texas Health Science Center, and currently enrolled in medical school.