Sloan R Williams

    Email Address:
    College: Liberal Arts and Sciences Department: Anthropology
    Title: Associate Professor
    Office: 1015 SEL Phone: 312-413-8051
    Participating in the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Awards program: Yes

    Research Interest:
    I am currently interested in working with undergraduates on two projects that focus on the genetic relationships among modern and ancient people from southeastern and coastal Kenya.

    1) The first project involves the study of the Mijikenda and Taita people using Y chromosome markers. We are establishing the biological relationships between these groups in order to understand how this area was settled. We will also assess the impact that the caravan networks of the ancient Swahili empire had on these two groups. The coastal Swahili brought goods from the interior of Africa with the help of these two groups and traded them to other parts of the Indian Ocean. We may find genetic traces of their Arab or Indian trading partners in the modern African groups we study.

    2) The second project focuses on the history and origins of the Swahili people using genetic data obtained from skeletons buried at two Swahili archaeological sites. The student would sequence the mitochondrial HVRI and compare the haplogroups with modern African populations.

    Minimum time commitment in hours per week: 10 hours

    Qualifications of a Student:
    I would prefer that the students be anthropology majors who have already had some coursework in biological anthropology. I would also consider a biology major who has taken the genetics course. The students should be strong academically with a minimum 3.0 GPA. No prior lab experience is needed.

    Brief Summary of what is expected from the student:
    A student working on the first project will learn PCR, gel electrophoresis and Y chromosome haplotyping lab techniques and to use genetic analysis software.

    A student working on the second project will help with the mitochondrial DNA sequencing and analysis. They will learn PCR, gel electrophoresis and sequencing lab techniques and to use genetic analysis software.

    NOTE: This researcher is currently not accepting applications for the Undergraduate Research Experience program.

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