Interdisciplinary Research

Interdisciplinary Research Section

Archaeology is a multidisciplinary science, drawing insight from many different disciplines and ways of knowing to enhance our understanding and broaden our interpretations of the past.

The mission of the Interdisciplinary Research Section at ISAS is to develop research projects that bring a multidisciplinary approach to our understanding of the archaeological record. By building collaborative relationships between specialists in diverse fields and community stakeholders, Interdisciplinary Research at ISAS combines traditional archaeological field and laboratory research with cutting-edge analytical techniques in collaboration with other research units in PRI, the University of Illinois, and external researchers. Through analyses such as isotopic and other compositional studies, imaging and microscopy technologies, and paleo and environmental genomics we enhance and transform our understanding of the archaeological record. With interpretations drawn from an integration of physical science, social science, and Indigenous and community knowledge, we gain an enhanced understanding of the past that is accessible and relevant to communities today.



Dr. Kristin Hedman heads the Interdisciplinary Research Section. A bioarchaeologist, Kristin’s research centers on the impacts & interaction of environmental and social change on community health and subsistence choices, and the movement of people and procurement of resources in the face of these changes. 

Dr. Michael Aiuvalasit directs the Environmental Archaeology Laboratory within the Interdisciplinary Research Section. The Environmental Archaeological Laboratory provides equipment and expertise that expands opportunities to explore a wide range of questions, including site formation processes, and the relationships between people and their environment. Michael’s research centers on archaeological soil micromorphology, ancient water management, and the use of fire by Indigenous peoples.



  • Archaeological Soil Micromorphology— analyses focus on micro-stratigraphic observations of archaeological deposits and soil formation processes that act upon archaeological materials.
  • Ancient Water Management— how communities solved water management problems in the past provides relevant examples to water challenges communities face today.
  • People, Fire and Prairies— when and how indigenous peoples used fire in the Easter Tallgrass Prairie Peninsula.
  • Climate Impact— how climate conditions in the past impacted resource availability, agricultural practices and diet, and social change and population movement by indigenous peoples.


Select Publications

2022    Hedman, K. M. , T. E. Emerson, M. A. Fort, J. M. Lambert, M. Betzenhauser, T. R. Pauketat. Corn, Climate, and the Human Population of Greater Cahokia. In Following the Mississippian Spread: Using Biological and Archaeological Evidence to Measure Migration and Climate Change, edited by Robert A. Cook and Aaron R. Comstock, pp. 37-63. Springer Press, New York.

2022    Emerson, T. E., K. M. Hedman, M. A. Fort, K. E. Emerson. Late Pre-contact Ethnogenesis, Resilience, and Movement in the Face of Climate Changes in the Upper Illinois River Valley. In Following the Mississippian Spread: Using Biological and Archaeological Evidence to Measure Migration and Climate Change, edited by Robert A. Cook and Aaron R. Comstock, pp. 139-167. Springer Press, New York.

2022    Neely, J. A., M. J. Aiuvalasit, B. M. Winsborough. Relict canals of the Tehuacán Valley, Mexico: A Middle-to Late-Holocene dryland socio-hydrological system. The Holocene, 32(12): 1422-1436.

2021    Witt, K. E., K. Yarlagadda, J. M. Allen, A. C. Bader, M. L. Simon, S. R. Kuehn, K. S. Swanson, T. L. Cross, K. M. Hedman, S. H. Ambrose, R. S. Mahli. Integrative Analysis of DNA, Macroscopic Remains and Stable Isotopes of Dog Coprolites to Reconstruct Community Diet. Scientific Reports 11 (1): [3113]  [See also (Scientific Reports 11 (1): [3113] 10.1038/s41598-021-82362-6). Scientific Reports, 11 (1), [11445].]

2021    Skousen, B. J., and M. Aiuvalasit. Questioning the Native American Population Rebound in the Horseshoe Lake Watershed from AD 1500 to AD 1700. American Antiquity 86(1): 199-202.

2021    Roos, C. I., T. W. Swetnam, T. J. Ferguson, M. J. Liebmann, R. A. Loehman, J. R. Welch, E. Q. Margolis, C.H. Guiterman, W. C. Hockaday, M. J. Aiuvalasit, J. Battillo. Native American Fire Management at an Ancient Wildland–Urban Interface in the Southwest United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(4), p.e2018733118.

2020    Aiuvalasit, M., T. Riley, J. Schuldenrein. Multi-proxy Evidence for Rapid and Enduring Prehistoric Anthropogenic Vegetation Change During the Late Holocene from an Oxbow of the Mississippi River, Wapanocca Bayou, Arkansas, USA. Geoarchaeology 35(3), 351-365.

2018    Hedman, K. M., P A. Slater, M. A. Fort, T. E. Emerson, J. M. Lambert. Expanding the Strontium Isoscape for the American Midcontinent: Identifying Potential Place of Origin for Cahokia and Pre-Columbian Immigrants. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 22:202-213.

2016    Fishel, R. L., J. W. Scott, K. M. Hedman, T. E. Butler. Chemical Analysis of the Ingredients of an 1850s Tomson’s Compound Syrup of Tar Patent Medicine Bottle. Technical Briefs in Historical Archaeology 10:9-20.