Nicholas Coutu

 Nicholas Coutu
Mentor: Dr. John Krigbaum
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
 
"I got involved with research in order to experience and further explore the academic fields I had only previously read about in the classroom. The hands-on application involved as well as the knowledge that you are making a contribution to the scientific community is very exciting. As an undergraduate unsure of my future career goals, I sought out research to help identify my academic and professional interests."
 

Major

Microbiology and Cell Sciences; Anthropology

Minor

N/A

Research Interests

  • Osteology
  • Indigenous Studies
  • Infectious Disease

Academic Awards

  • UF University Scholars Program
  • Coite and Mildred Hill Scholarship
  • Orlando Firefighters' Benevolent Association Educational Award
  • Florida Bright Futures

Organizations

  • UF Wildlife Society
  • UF Chemistry Club
  • UF Catholic Gators Newman Club

Volunteer

  • Florida Museum of Natural History

Hobbies and Interests

  • Ceramics
  • Comparative Skeletal Anatomy
  • Jogging

Research Description

Paleodiet Reconstruction of Woodland Native Americans in Florida
It is often cited that maize, as a staple crop, was not used by Native Americans in the southeast region until contact was established with European settlers in the New World during the 16th and 17th centuries. My project aims to test this idea by conducting a paleodiet analysis using stable isotope data from materials recovered from five important Woodland sites associated with Weeden Island culture: Mayport Mound, Ross Hammock, Bayshore Homes, Hughes Island Mound, and McKeithen. Specifically, I will collect stable isotope data from bone collagen and bone apatite: δ^13C and δ^15N from bone collagen; and δ^13C and δ^18O from bone apatite. Stable carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios are useful in determining ‘average’ diet consumed, and data are compared to known standards such that the extent of C_3 vs. C_4 plants, and marine vs. terrestrial foods consumed may be quantified using mass spectrometry. These ratios will be analyzed for intrasite variation by sex, and data produced will be compared to other sites in Florida which have been similarly analyzed. This project will contribute to a broader study conducted by Dr. Neill Wallis (FLMNH) and Dr. John Krigbaum (UF, Anthropology) to provide a more encompassing regional approach to understanding Weeden Island culture.