In the news: PT, Business, Poli Sci, Anthro



Dr. Stephanie Combs-Miller of the Krannert School of Physical Therapy continues to gain attention for her groundbreaking student-run research into the value of Rock Steady Boxing programs to counteract the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Most recently, she was interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. for a national story. See the report here.

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Dr. Larry DeGaris of the School of Business was a key source for a front-page story in Tuesday’s Indianapolis Star about how living legend Peyton Manning’s legacy could be affected by allegations of banned substance use and a sexual harassment cover-up. DeGaris directs UIndy’s Sports Marketing program and is a nationally known consultant on sports marketing and sponsorships. Read the story here.

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Dr. Laura Albright of the Department of History & Political Science remains in high demand among journalists seeking analysis during this especially colorful presidential primary season. Recent examples include this 17-minute interview with WIBC-FM’s Ray Steele, which aired over the weekend to preview Super Tuesday, and this appearance on WXIN-Fox59’s weekly political talk show, IN Focus.

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Though he is not always mentioned by name, Anthropology Professor Dr. Christopher Schmidt‘s high-tech research on the diet of medieval children buried at Canterbury Cathedral is making news across the English-speaking world. See some examples here, here and here.

Senior statesman shares insights with teens

Lugar - stageNearly 450 high schoolers from throughout the state gathered Saturday at UIndy for the 39th annual Richard G. Lugar Symposium for Tomorrow’s Leaders, which opened in Ransburg Auditorium with an address by the former senator.

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With the United States facing complicated challenges around the world – from Russia to China to the Middle East and even here at home – all citizens have a responsibility to stay informed and work toward solutions, former Sen. Richard Lugar told an audience of Indiana’s best and brightest high school juniors today at the University of Indianapolis.

“These are basic issues that each American, young and old, has to ask for more information, has to develop more opinions, has to require more from the leaders of our country,” he said in his keynote address at the 39th annual Lugar Symposium for Tomorrow’s Leaders.

Selfie with senator

Selfie with senator

The event drew nearly 450 teens from more than 60 counties, along with accompanying adults and members of the public, for a day of engagement on pressing public issues. After the morning program, lunch and group photos with Lugar, the students spent the afternoon in group discussions with UIndy faculty members and other experts on issues including terrorism, the refugee crisis, the 2016 presidential election and U.S. leadership in the world.

The senior statesman’s morning address focused on key international concerns:
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Alum to discuss role in major fossil discovery

Zachary Throckmorton, part of team that identified new hominin species Homo naledi, will return to campus Nov. 19 for a public presentation

The University of Indianapolis will welcome back one of its graduates Nov. 19 to discuss his role in a recent scientific breakthrough: the identification of a previously unknown ancient relative of modern humans.



The announcement in September of a new species of hominin – Homo naledi, whose fossilized remains were found in a South African cave – made headlines around the world. Zachary Throckmorton, who earned his UIndy Master of Science in Human Biology in 2007 and now teaches anatomy at Tennessee’s Lincoln Memorial University, was among the select international group of scientists who were invited to study the specimens and co-author the first published analyses.

Throckmorton’s presentation, “Homo naledi Strides Again,” is scheduled 5 to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 19 in UIndy Hall A of the university’s Schwitzer Student Center, 1400 E. Hanna Ave. The University Series event is presented with support from the Blanche E. Penrod Lecture Series and organized by the FOUND and ARCHAIC student organizations for forensics and anthropology.

Admission is free and open to the public. Attendees are asked to register in advance at

Homo naledi apparently interred the bodies of its dead, a practice once thought exclusive to modern humans, and it was built to walk upright, according to Throckmorton, a specialist in human gait and the development of the lower extremities. Other characteristics, however, are distinctively different from today’s anatomy. Read more

Activist doctor takes aim at global health care

Paul FarmerPhysician and international health activist Paul Farmer addresses the audience Tuesday at UIndy’s Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center. His talk was presented by the University Series and the Blanche E. Penrod Lecture Series.

Read IBJ recap

Dr. Paul Farmer speaks with dry wit and humble humor as he rattles off statistics from the world’s major infectious disease outbreaks.

“I know all this stuff because I’m a nerd,” the globetrotting physician-anthropologist said Tuesday night at UIndy’s Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center.

But the stories he tells from his work in West Africa, Haiti and elsewhere are chilling, and the questions he poses are troubling: Why did the Marburg virus kill only 22 percent of the people who contracted it in Germany, but 90 percent of those it touched in Angola? Why did all 11 Americans who contracted Ebola last year survive, while thousands died in West Africa? And why did he lose friends and colleagues — trained medical professionals — to Ebola?

The answer is simple, according to Farmer, subject of the best-selling 2003 biography Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World. His talk was part of this year’s University Series, which also will host Mountains author Tracy Kidder on Nov. 12.

In many developing nations, the personnel, supplies and facilities required for even basic public health care – the “staff, stuff and space,” in his parlance – are simply missing.

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UIndy alum assists in science breakthrough

Zach Throckmorton at Rising Star Workshop cc by William Harcourt-SmithDr. Zachary Throckmorton, who earned a UIndy master’s degree in 2007, examines a fossil specimen at the Evolutionary Studies Institute of South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand. (photo by William Harcourt-Smith)

Previously unknown species sheds new light on human evolution

The worlds of science and pop culture alike were rocked last week by a landmark announcement, and a University of Indianapolis alumnus had a hand in it – or, perhaps more accurately, a foot.

Dr. Zachary Throckmorton ’07, now a professor at Tennessee’s Lincoln Memorial University, is among a select international group of scientists who were invited to study specimens and co-author the first published analyses of a previously unknown species of ancient hominin. In a barely accessible cave chamber in South Africa, Homo naledi appears to have deliberately interred the bodies of its dead, a practice once thought exclusive to modern humans.

The news was announced Thursday through two papers in the scientific journal eLife and a story on the National Geographic website, followed by media accounts worldwide. The project is the cover story in National Geographic’s October issue and the subject of a NOVA/National Geographic Special that is viewable online and airs for the first time Wednesday night. Even The Onion offered a typically cheeky take on the news.

Throckmorton, 34, who came to UIndy in 2004 to study evolutionary anatomy under Professor John Langdon and earn his Master of Science in Human Biology, said by phone this week that the ongoing project is the opportunity of a lifetime.

“Every once in a while there’s a remarkable discovery or development in the field that provides an enormous amount of new data that is really exciting for everyone in the field to start considering,” the Michigan native said. “If you had told me in 2004, ‘Hey, you’d better get back to studying because in a decade you’re going to have an opportunity to describe a new species of the genus Homo,’ I would have said ‘Yeah, sure.’”

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Global health activist Farmer to speak Oct. 6

Paul Farmer photo by Rebecca E. Rollins-Partners In HealthDr. Paul Farmer discusses the condition of Eunice Newa, 12, during clinical rounds at Neno District Hospital in Malawi. Newa was treated for malaria as well as anemia. (Photo by Rebecca E. Rollins/Partners In Health)

Crusading physician to discuss public health efforts in developing nations



Physician, anthropologist and international health activist Paul Farmer will discuss his globetrotting humanitarian work in a special appearance Oct. 6 at the University of Indianapolis.

“Health Care as Social Justice: Overcoming Presumed Economic Barriers to Providing Health Care to the Poor” is the title of Farmer’s presentation, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. in UIndy’s Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center, 1400 E. Hanna Ave. Admission is free, but registration is required at

Farmer chairs the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and is chief strategist and cofounder of the international health and social justice organization Partners in Health. His intriguing personal background and his efforts to battle infectious disease in Haiti, Peru, Cuba, Russia and elsewhere are recounted in Pulitzer-winning journalist Tracy Kidder’s best-selling 2003 biography Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World.

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Science magazine features UIndy forensic work

Forensics in Texas - webUIndy’s forensic anthropology team exhumes a body last year in southern Texas.

As the field team from UIndy’s Archeology & Forensics Laboratory prepares for its third trip to Texas to help identify the remains of missing migrants, its work is featured in this month’s issue of Scientific American magazine.

A package headlined “The Mystery of Case 0425” explores the story of Maria Albertina Iraheta Guardado of Honduras, a 37-year-old mother of six who is the first person to be identified after being exhumed from a pauper grave in Falfurrias, Texas. Her remains were among hundreds that the UIndy team has exhumed during its past two summer trips to rural Brooks County, where a consortium of universities is assisting local authorities in identifying and repatriating people from many nations who die in the arid ranchlands after crossing the U.S. border.

Quoted extensively in the piece is team leader Dr. Krista Latham, associate professor of Biology and Anthropology, director of osteology for the Archeology & Forensics Lab and director of the Molecular Anthropology Laboratory. The magazine is available for purchase at newsstands and at this link. Latham reflects on Case 0425 in a new entry on the forensics team’s blog.

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Service conference aims for global impact

International Symposium on Service-Learning runs next week at UIndy

BACKGROUND: What is service-learning?

Nearly 200 participants from eight nations will attend the sixth biennial International Symposium on Service-Learning, taking place next Thursday through Saturday at the University of Indianapolis.

Under the theme “Service-Learning as a Global Movement: Transforming Communities and Higher Education,” the event aims to strengthen ties among higher education institutions and community partners around the world and to advance service-learning as an innovative teaching tool that promotes engaged citizenship among students.

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Service-Learning Symposium set for May 28-30

Sixth international event, to be hosted at UIndy, carries global theme

Academics, students and professionals from around the world will gather May 28-30 at the University of Indianapolis for the sixth International Symposium on Service-Learning, co-hosted by South Africa’s Stellenbosch University and co-sponsored by Indiana Campus Compact and Bellarmine University.



Under the theme “Service-Learning as a Global Movement: Transforming Communities & Higher Education,” this year’s symposium aims to promote global citizenship and the scholarship of engagement, with a focus on building transnational relationships and participation in service-learning. Related activities begin May 27 with a pre-conference session, service projects, a peace service and an opening ceremony.

This year’s keynote speakers are:

  • Garmann


    Barbara Ibrahim, Ph.D., founding director of the John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement at the American University in Cairo and member at the Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies.

  • Gerburg Garmann, Ph.D., assistant dean of Assistant Dean of Interdisciplinary Programs & Service Learning at the University of Indianapolis.

The International Symposium on Service-Learning was launched in 2005 at Stellenbosch University in South Africa and since been conducted in Indianapolis; Athens, Greece; and Ningbo, China. This year’s event also is supported by and Follett Bookstores.

Early-bird registration continues through Feb. 25. More information is available at

Faculty Forum: Rehabilitating a Belizean prison



For this month’s installment of the Faculty Forum lunchtime lecture series on Thursday, two faculty members from the Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice will share the results of an interesting project undertaken last year in Central America.

Associate Professor Kevin Whiteacre and Assistant Professor Amanda Miller led students on a 2014 Spring Term trip to Belize, where murder and incarceration rates are among the highest in the world.



They gathered oral histories from current and former staff and inmates at the Belize Central Prison, which saw a positive change in conditions and culture after the government turned over management to a nonprofit group founded by local Rotary Club members. The interviews explore the nation’s approach to violent crime and the prison staff’s attitudes toward inmates and rehabilitation.

The presentation, “The Big House Abroad: Oral History in Belize Central Prison,” is scheduled 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the Trustee’s Dining Room of Schwitzer Student Center. Carry-in lunches are welcome, and cookies and drinks will be provided.

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