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Lovis, William A., Ph.D.

Curator of Anthropology, MSU Museum
Professor, Department of Anthropology

Research Interests/Experience

Curator Lovis’ research explores the relationship between human economic adaptation and mobility and changing Holocene environments in both the Great Lakes region and northern England. His multidisciplinary perspective includes collaborative experiments on carbonized food residue formation and interpretation of resultant isotope signatures to Image of William Lovistrack the transition from hunting and gathering to horticulture in the Great Lakes. He harbors a continuing interest in applied theory and method, especially as it relates to research design. Dr. Lovis has been heavily engaged in issues of public policy in archaeology, particularly surrounding repatriation at the national level as well as forensic applications including law enforcement training and human remains investigations. Dr. Lovis is currently engaged in multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research into the formation and preservation of stratified archaeological sites within the dynamic coastal dune settings of Lake Michigan, and continues to engage in research from a decade of fieldwork on Mesolithic sites in Yorkshire with his colleagues at the University of Bradford. Dr. Lovis has held numerous elected and appointed offices in professional organizations, and is the recipient of the 2011 Distinguished Career Award from the Midwest Archaeological Conference.

The MSU Museum houses numerous Great Lakes/Michigan archaeological collections accessible to faculty and students for engaged research and curation experiences. Most recently, these collections were central to major geoarchaeological syntheses of data from southern Michigan floodplains and Lake Michigan coastal dunes by Dr. Lovis and his collaborators, resulting in predictive models for site burial and preservation, baseline paleoenvironmental information, and planning and heritage management frameworks. Dr. Lovis along with Co-PI Lynne Swanson was recently awarded an Institute for Museum and Library Services Museums for America Program Grant to upgrade storage of the MSU Museum Archaeological Collections with installation of compact storage units.

Curator and Professor Lovis currently advises five doctoral students, and will no longer be accepting new advisees.

Books, Monographs, Edited Journal Issues

  • Raviele, M.E. and W.A. Lovis (Co-Editor and Contributor). 2014. Reassessing the Timing, Rate and Adoption Trajectories of Domesticate Use in th Midwest and Great Lakes.¬† Occasional Papers, Volume 1.¬† Midwest Archaeological Conference, Inc. (iv+174 pp, figures, references) (Refereed ISSN 23729899)
  • Brashler, J.G. and W.A. Lovis¬† (Guest Co-Editor and Contributor). 2008 (published 2013).¬† The Tie that Binds: Essays in Honor of Margaret B. Holman. Special issue of The Michigan Archaeologist 54(1-4):1-224.¬† (Editorial Board Review ISSN 0543-9728)
  • Lovis, W.A., A.F. Arbogast and G.W. Monaghan.¬† 2012.¬†¬† The Geoarchaeology of Lake Michigan Coastal Dunes.¬† Environmental Research Series No. 2.¬† Michigan Department of Transportation, Michigan State University Press, East Lansing.¬† (xvi+194 pp, figures, references, appendices) (Refereed ISBN 978-1-61186-051-1; ebook ISBN 978-1-60917-348-7)
  • Whallon, R., W.A. Lovis and R.K. Hitchcock (Co-Editor and Contributor).¬† 2011.¬† Information and Its Role in Hunter-Gatherer Bands. Ideas, Debates and Perspectives 5.¬† Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, University of California ‚Äď Los Angeles, Los Angeles.¬† (xvi+368 pp., 55 Figures and Plates, References)¬† (Paper ISBN 978-1-931745-64-2; Cloth¬† ISBN 978-1-931745-63-5)
  • Lovis, W. A., R. Whallon and R. E. Donahue (Guest Co-Editor and Contributor).¬† 2006. Mesolithic Mobility, Exchange, and Interaction.¬† Special Issue of Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 25(2):175-274.¬† Elsevier Press.¬† (i+99 pp., figures, tables, references) (ISSN 0278-4165)
  • Monaghan, G.W. and W. A. Lovis. 2005.¬† Modeling Archaeological Site Burial in Southern Michigan: A Geoarchaeological Synthesis. Environmental Research Series No. 1, Michigan Department of Transportation. Michigan State University Press, East Lansing. (v + 278pp, CD-ROM)¬† (Refereed ISBN 0-87013-738-7)
  • Lovis, W.A. (Editor). 2004. An Upper Great Lakes Archaeological Odyssey: Essays in Honor of Charles E. Cleland. Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills, MI. (xiv + 247 pp) (ISBN 0-87737-045-1)

Selected Articles and Book Chapters Since 2010

  • Hart, J. P. and W. A. Lovis. 2014. ‚ÄúA re-evaluation of the reliability of AMS dates on pottery food residues from the late prehistoric Central Plains of North America: Comment on Roper (2013)‚ÄĚ.¬† Radiocarbon: An International Journal of Cosmogenic Isotope Research 56(1):341-353.¬† (Refereed ISSN 0033-8222; doi: 10.2458/56.16898)
  • Cook, R. A. and W. A. Lovis.¬† 2014. ‚ÄúLake Levels, Mobility, and Lithic Raw Material Selection and Reduction Strategies: A Great Lakes Case Study‚ÄĚ.¬† Environmental Archaeology 19(1):55-71.¬† (Refereed ISSN 1461-4103; DOI 10.1179/1749631413Y.0000000001).
  • Hart, J. P., W.A. Lovis, G.R. Urquhart and E.A. Reber.¬† 2013.¬† ‚ÄúModeling Freshwater Reservoir Offsets on Radiocarbon Dated Charred Cooking Residues‚ÄĚ.¬† American Antiquity 78(3):536-552.¬† (Refereed ISSN 0002-7316)
  • Hart, J. P. and W. A. Lovis. 2013. ‚ÄúReevaluating What We Know About the Histories of Maize in Northeastern North America: A Review of Current Evidence‚ÄĚ.¬† Journal of Archaeological Research 21(2):175-216. Springer.¬† (Refereed ISSN 1059-0161 print; 1573-7756 electronic; DOI 10.1007/s10814-012-9062-9)
  • Lovis, W. A.¬† ‚ÄúRevisiting the Johnson Site (20CN46): A Winter Camp in a Cedar Swamp on Mullett Lake, Michigan‚ÄĚ.¬† 2008 (published 2013). In The Tie that Binds: Essays in Honor of Margaret B. Holman , guest edited by J. G. Brashler and W. A. Lovis. The Michigan Archaeologist 54(1-4):73-92.¬† (Editorial Board Review ISSN 0543-9728)
  • Lovis, W. A., G. W. Monaghan, A. F. Arbogast, and S. L. Forman. 2012.¬†¬† ‚ÄúDifferential Temporal and Spatial Preservation of Archaeological Sites in a Great Lakes Coastal Zone‚ÄĚ. American Antiquity 77(3):591-608.¬† (ISSN 0002-7316)
  • Hart, J. P., W. A. Lovis, R. J. Jeske, and J. D. Richards.¬† 2012.¬† ‚ÄúThe Potential of Bulk őī13C on Encrusted Cooking Residues as Independent Evidence for Regional Maize Histories‚ÄĚ. American Antiquity 77(2):315-325.¬†¬† (ISSN 0002-7316)
  • Lovis, W. A., G. R. Urquhart, M. E. Raviele, and J. P. Hart.¬† 2011.¬† ‚ÄúHardwood Ash Nixtamalization may Lead to False Negatives for the Presence of Maize by Depleting Bulk őī13C in Carbonized Residues‚ÄĚ. Journal of Archaeological Science 38:2726-2730.¬† (ISSN 0305-4403)
  • Lovis, W. A. and R. E. Donahue. 2011. ‚ÄúSpace, Information and Knowledge: Ethnocartography and North American Boreal Forest Hunter-Gatherers‚ÄĚ,¬†¬† In Information and Its Role in Hunter-Gatherer Bands, edited by R. Whallon, W. A. Lovis and R. K. Hitchcock, pp. 59-88.¬† Ideas, Debates, and Perspectives 5.¬† Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, University of California ‚Äď Los Angeles, Los Angeles.
  • Whallon, R.¬† and W. A. Lovis. 2011. ‚ÄúA Synopsis of Information and its Role in Hunter-Gatherer Bands‚ÄĚ.¬† In Information and Its Role in Hunter-Gatherer Bands, edited by R. Whallon, W. A. Lovis and R. K. Hitchcock, pp. 281-288.¬† Ideas, Debates, and Perspectives 5.¬† Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, University of California ‚Äď Los Angeles, Los Angeles.
  • Evans, A. A., J. L. Langer, R. E. Donahue, Y. B. Wolframm and W. A. Lovis. 2010.¬† ‚ÄúLithic Raw Material Sourcing and the Assessment of Mesolithic Landscape Organization and Mobility Strategies in Northern England‚ÄĚ. The Holocene 20:1157-1163.¬† (ISSN 0959-6836)
  • Hirshman, A. J., W. A. Lovis and H. P. Pollard. 2010.¬† ‚ÄúSpecialization of Ceramic Production: A Sherd Assemblage Based Analytic Perspective‚ÄĚ. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 29:265-277.¬† (ISSN 0278-4165)
  • Lovis, W. A. 2010. ‚ÄúA Pedagogue‚Äôs Tale of Laurel Scrapers, Caching, and Collective Behavior‚ÄĚ. In A Superior Archaeology: Papers in Honor of Marla M. Buckmaster. The Wisconsin Archeologist, guest edited by J. Richards and J. Skibo, 90(1&2):132-154.¬† (ISSN 0043-6364)

Selected Exhibitions

  • "Regional Settlement in Mesolithic Northern England" and "Predicting Mesolithic Settlement in the Yorkshire Dales" produced with R.E. Donahue and H. Russ. Yorkshire Dales National Park Visitor Center, Malham, North Yorkshire, England. 2007 and ongoing.
  • ‚ÄúMichigan‚Äôs First Farmers‚ÄĚ, co-curated with Maria Raviele and Julie Fick.¬† MSU Museum, 2012-2013.

Selected Honors

  • Distinguished Career Award, Midwest Archaeological Conference, Inc., 2011
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, James B. Hoffa Case, 2006
  • Society for American Archaeology Presidential Recognition Award, 1998
  • Testimony to Senate and House of Representatives Committees of U. S. Congress, 1992-1995
  • Woodrow Wilson Fellow, 1973
  • New York University Scholar, 1965-1969


Ph.D., Anthropology, Michigan State University, 1973
M.A., Anthropology, Michigan State University, 1972
B.S., History Secondary Education, New York University, 1969