College of the Liberal Arts Alumnus Discovery of 3,000-Year-Old Shark Attack Victim Gets Media Attention


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Former Auburn student Alyssa Blanche was recently featured on CBC’s “As it Happens” podcast, for her research on a 3,000-year-old shark attack victim, the first evidence of such an attack.

White has taught as an assistant professor of anthropology at Auburn and is currently completing a doctorate in archeology at the University of Oxford in England. White received the prestigious Phi Kappa Phi National Fellowship and the Clarendon Fellowship from the University of Oxford to attend Oxford, where she searches for skeletal evidence of violence among prehistoric Japanese hunter-gatherers and early farmers who lived roughly between 1300 BC and the middle of the 3rd century AD.

Interview audio can be found here and anyone interested in its research can read it co-authored publication in the Journal of Archaeological Science Reports. News of White’s discovery has been reported by a number of media outlets including Smithsonian magazine and Gizmodo, among others.

White, originally from Auburn, graduated in the spring of 2014 from the College of Liberal Arts and Honors College with a double major in Anthropology and Spanish and a minor in East Asian Studies.

“My minor ended up being a great asset to my research in Japan,” White said of his Auburn experience in a recent interview with the College of Liberal Arts.

While at Auburn, White served as associate editor of the Auburn University Journal of Undergraduate Studies and deputy director of the campus biological anthropology lab. She was a two-time recipient of the university’s Competitive Undergraduate Research Fellowship, was shortlisted for the Phi Kappa Phi Most Outstanding Freshman Award and the Phi Kappa Phi Most Outstanding Second Year Award, and was one of the rare third year female students elected to Phi Beta. Kappa in spring 2013.

White was a Japanese tutor at the campus language lab, has presented her peer-reviewed research at national, regional, and national conferences, and is the author of two peer-reviewed publications. In March 2013, as a junior, she received the Undergraduate Student Excellence Award in Women’s Studies.

White credits Auburn with her liberal arts education to set her up for success.

“Without a doubt, without the care and attention given to me by professors of Anthropology, Asian Studies and Honors, especially Dr Kristrina Shuler, the late Dr John Cottier, Dr Makiko Mori and the Dr Paul Harris, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I pursue two of my passions, Japan and archeology, simultaneously, “White said in the recent interview.” The professors mentioned above, as well as d other members of the College of the Liberal Arts put a lot of emphasis on learning how to work critically on an issue, and then how to build and defend a position. ”


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