Mark’s research agenda within biological anthropology has focused on two major topics, primarily explored in the context of South American prehistory. In the last few years, these two foci have been complemented by his interest in pursuing a critical review of some of the theoretical and critical assumptions we have in Biological Anthropology and associated disciplines. His first research agenda investigates the processes of morphological adaptation and modern human dispersion, with a special emphasis on the processes of human dispersion during Early Holocene in South America. This topic has been his most prolific line of research to date, and in the last three years, it resulted in one edited volume co-organized by him, Pedro Da-Gloria, and Walter Neves (published in Portuguese in 2016 and translated into English by Springer in 2017), and several peer-reviewed articles and book-chapters. As with all his academic endeavors, this research focus is heavily dependent on his academic networks in Brazil, with Drs. Walter Neves, Pedro Da-Gloria, and André Strauss (Universidade de São Paulo), Germany, with Dr. Katerina Harvati (University of Tübingen), and the US, with Dr. Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel (SUNY-Buffalo).
His second research line focuses on skeletal measures of health and life-style, and how these aspects are related to the establishment of structured social inequality among the prehistoric inhabitants of the Atacama oases in North Chile. This research line is the product of his academic relationship with scholars from the US and Chile (Dr. Christina Torres-Rouff, UC-Merced, Dr. Will Pestle, U Miami, Dr. Francisca Santana, Universidad de Chile), and has also resulted in several publications in the last three years. Their current NSF is on its last year of execution, as they finished the last field season during the summer of 2017. They are currently establishing contacts with Argentinean colleagues to expand their work into NW Argentina, and establishing a regional comparative framework to the results of their analyses on the Atacama oases.
Since the establishment of HEADS, Mark has also been developing a series of smaller research projects that share his interest in pursuing a critical review of some of the theoretical and methodological assumptions there is in Biological Anthropology and associated disciplines. Ultimately, his goal is to contribute towards generating a better empirical framework for all efforts to reconstruct life in the past. These smaller projects have actively engaged students and colleagues from OSU and other institutions, and have already generated a series of peer reviewed articles (e.g., Stewart et al., 2015; Clark et al., 2015; Pestle et al., 2015; Piperata et al., 2014), and a high number of papers presented in academic meetings. This new broad academic interest derives from his insertion in the North American academic universe, where a high critical mass derived from the number of qualified students and colleagues is readily available, which allows him to contribute his expertise in quantitative analyses to a series of different questions. Because of the impact Mark believes this kind of critical appraisal of the field has towards the advancement of our knowledge, he intends to invest more efforts on such endeavors in the future, expanding further his collaborations with students and colleagues from multiple fields.