Assistant Professor, Geography and Anthropology
Director, Quaternary Isotope Paleoecology Laboratory

Contact info

Geography-Geography & Geology Building 107
Anthropology-Baldwin Hall 265A
Lab-Center for Applied Isotope Studies
Phone Number:
Research Interests:

I have a joint appointment in Geography and Anthropology and direct the Quaternary Isotope Paleoecology Lab. My research is focused on human adaptation and resilience to climate change and natural resource unpredictability in prehistory, and how our understanding of past human response to environmental change informs current thinking about these issues. I combine archaeology and biogeochemistry to investigate changes in diet, mobility, and settlement systems in the period spanning the end of the last ice age to the arrival of farming. 

My other research interests include the initial domestication of livestock, diffusion of domesticates across Eurasia, the transition from hunting to herding, seasonality and human mobility, multispecies archaeology, and advancing methodologies in zooarchaeology and stable isotope analysis. I am an active advocate of open access publishing and online data and research sharing. I co-founded and moderate the blog TrowelBlazers, which highlights women in the fields of archaeology, paleontology, and geology. I am also an editor-in-chief of the open access journal for Quaternary science, Open Quaternary.

  • Ph. D. (2012), University of Cambridge Archaeology
  • M. Phil. (2009), University of Cambridge Archaeological Science
  • B. Sc. (2008), Rutgers University Evolutionary Anthropology and Paleoecology

[5] University of Georgia Research Foundation. Faculty Research Grant. “Archaeologically-Linked Paleoenvironmental Reconstruction” PI ($10,000) 2016-2017

[4] Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Connection Grant. “Reconstructing Hunter-Gatherer Mobility: Building New Inter-disciplinary Frameworks in the Quaternary” Co-PI with Julien Riel Salvatore and Rebecca Wragg Sykes ($15,612 CAD) 2015-2016

[3] UGA STEM Initiative Small Grants Program. “Enhancing and Diversifying Geosciences Instruction through Popular Gaming Platforms and Multi-user Virtual Environments (MUVES)” Co-PI with Marshall Shepherd, Jerry Shannon, and Thomas Mote ($8,000) 2015

[2] International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA) Project Grant. “Reconstructing Hunter-Gatherer Mobility: Building New Inter-disciplinary Frameworks in the Quaternary” Co-PI with Rebecca Wragg Sykes and Julien Riel Salvatore (€4,000) 2015-2016

[1] National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration. “Neolithization of Europe: New Zooarchaeological and Stable Isotope Evidence from Uğurlu Höyük, Gökçeada, Turkey” Co-PI with Levent Atici ($22,000) 2015-2016

Of note:

President’s Venture Fund, UGA 2015
Sarah H. Moss Fellowship, Center for Teaching and Learning, UGA 2015
Lilly Teaching Fellowship, Center for Teaching and Learning, UGA 2015-2016
Online Learning Fellow, Franklin College, UGA 2014

Courses Regularly Taught:
Selected Publications:

[17] Pilaar Birch, S.E. and Vander Linden, M. 2017. “A long hard road... Reviewing the evidence for environmental change and population history in the eastern Adriatic and western Balkans during the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene.” Quaternary International. DOI:10.1016/j.quaint.2016.12.035

[16] Pauli, J.N., Newsome, S.D., Cook, J.A., Harrod, C., Steffan, S.A., Baker, C., Ben David, M., Bloom, D., Brown, G., Cerling, T., Cicero, C., Cook, C., Dohm, M., Eherlinger, J., Federhen, S., Frey, B., Ghosh, P., Graves, G., Gropp, R., Hobson, K., Jordan, C., Pilaar Birch, S.E., Poelen, J., Ratnasingham, S., Russell, L., Stricker, C., Uhen, M., Yarnes, C., Harden, B. 2017. “Why we need a centralized repository for isotopic data” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In press. 

[15] Pilaar Birch, S.E. 2017. “From the Aegean to the Adriatic: Exploring the Earliest Neolithic Island Fauna” Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology. In press.

[14] Pilaar Birch, S.E. 2017. “Seasonal mobility and multispecies interactions in the Mesolithic northeastern Adriatic.” in S.E. Pilaar Birch (ed.), Multispecies Archaeology. Archaeological Orientations Series. London: Routledge.

[13] Pilaar Birch, S.E. & P.T. Miracle. 2017 “Human response to climate change in the Northern Adriatic during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene” G. Monks (ed.), Climate Change and Human Responses: A Zooarchaeological Perspective. Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series. New York: Springer. In press.

[12] Hassett, B.R., Pilaar Birch, S.E., Herridge, V.L., & R.M. Wragg Sykes. 2017. “TrowelBlazers: Accidentally crowd-sourcing an archive of women in archaeology.” Apaydin, V. and Jameson, J. (ed.) Public Participatory Archaeology. New York: Springer.* In press.

[11] Pilaar Birch, S.E. 2017. “Neolithic subsistence at Vela Špilja on the island of Lošinj, Croatia” D. Serjeantson, P. Rowley-Conwy and P. Halstead (eds.), Economic Zooarchaeology: Studies in Hunting, Herding and Early Agriculture. Oxford: Oxbow.* In press.  Chapter 30.

[10] Pilaar Birch, S.E., Miracle, P.T., Stevens, R.E. & T.C. O’Connell. 2016.“Reconstructing late Pleistocene/early Holocene migratory behavior of ungulates using stable isotopes and its effects on forager mobility” PLOS ONE 11(6): e0155714. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155714. OA

[9] Leppard, T.P. and S.E. Pilaar Birch. 2016. “The insular ecology and palaeoenvironmental impacts of the domestic goat (Capra hircus) in Mediterranean Neolithization” in Géoarchéologie des îles de la Méditerranée, edited by M. Ghilardi, F. Leandri, J. Bloemendal, L. Lespez, and S. Fachard. Paris: CNRS Editions Alpha. pp. 47-56. 

[8] Pilaar Birch, S.E. 2015. “Diversity and demographics of zooarchaeologists: Results from a digital survey” Ethnobiology Letters 6(2): 59-67. OA

[7] Pilaar Birch, S.E. and R.W. Graham. 2015. “A stable isotope data repository as part of Neotoma, a paleoecological database” BioScience 65(10): 953. DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biv133 OA

[6] Pilaar Birch, S.E. & P.T. Miracle. 2015. “Subsistence continuity, change, and environmental adaptation at the site of Nugljanska, Istria, Croatia” Environmental Archaeology 20(1):30-40. OA

[5] Çakırlar, C., Gourichon, L., Pilaar Birch, S.E., Berthon, R., Akar, M., & A. Yener. 2014. “Provisioning an urban center under foreign occupation: Zooarchaeological insights into the nature of Hittite presence in late 14th century BCE Alalakh” Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 2(4): 259-276.*

[4] Herridge, V., Wragg Sykes, R., Hassett, B. & S.E. Pilaar Birch. 2013. “‘A splendid regiment of women’: 20th century archaeologists and palaeontologists” in S. Charman-Anderson (ed.), A Passion for Science: Stories of Discovery and Invention. London: Finding Ada.

[3] Pilaar Birch, S.E. 2013. “Using social media for research dissemination: The Digital Research Video Project” Internet Archaeology 35. OA.

[2] Pilaar Birch, S.E. 2013. “Stable isotopes in zooarchaeology” Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 5: 81-83.

[1] Zeder, M.A. & S.E. Pilaar.2010.  “Assessing the reliability of criteria used to identify mandibles and mandibular teeth in sheep, Ovis, and goats, Capra” Journal of Archaeological Science 37: 225-242.