Anne R. Skinner

Anne Skinner

Senior Lecturer in Chemistry, Emerita

At Williams since 1967

Areas of Expertise

My work focuses on the interface between chemistry and two other disciplines, geology and archaeology or paleoanthropology. A relatively new way of determining the age of materials is to look at radiation damage caused by radioisotopes in the material itself and in its surroundings. Oversimplified, the longer something has been buried, the more damage should be found. The extent of damage can be measured with electron spin resonance (ESR), a technique that looks at the unpaired electrons often found when a stable bond is broken. Geological applications have included following the rise and fall of sea levels due to ice ages by dating shells of species known to live in shallow water, or looking at sediments buried by glaciers during ice ages. Applications to archaeology and paleoanthropology cover the time range from New World flint artifacts to teeth and bones from million-year old sites associated with human evolution. The usual samples are teeth of large mammals found in the same site as hominid remains and/or artifacts. Hominid teeth themselves are generally too rare and too small to yield good results. Sites I have studied include Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania to look at early human evolution, Iringa in Tanzania to estimate the evolutionary history of our own Homo sapiens speices, Mesmaiskaya Cave in Russia where there may have been overlap of modern humans and Neanderthals, and Moendas Cave in Brazil, location of the oldest human skeletal remains in the Western Hemisphere. ESR can also detect heating. An exciting application here has been the study of burnt bones from South Africa. Evidence shows that they had to be heated in a campfire. As these bones are 1.5 million years old, this represents the earliest use of fire by hominids. Interesting problems are found worldwide.

Scholarship/Creative Work

  • “Geochronology of Quaternary Coastal Plain Deposits, Southeastern Virgina, U.S.A.” June E. Mirecki, John. F. Wehmiller and Anne R. Skinner, Journal of Coastal Research (in press).
  • “Dating human occupation at Toca do Serrote das Moendas, Sao~Raimundo Nonato, Piauí-Brasil by electron spin resonance and optically stimulated luminescence.” Angela Kinoshita, Angela, Gisele Daltrini Felice, Ana Maria Graciano Figueiredo, Anne R. Skinner, Cristiane de A. Buco, Sonia Tatumi, Niede Guidon, Oswaldo Baffa, Journal of Human Evolution 77, 187-195 (2014).
  • “General Principles of Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) Dating.” Anne R. Skinner, In: Encyclopedia of Scientific Dating Methods, (W.J.Rink, J. Thompson, eds.), Springer Publishing (2014).
  • “Reconstructing Paleoenvironments in the Western Desert, Egypt: ESR Dating Freshwater Molluscs from Kharga Oasis.” Anne R. Skinner, Bonnie A. B. Blackwell, Maxine R. Kleindienst, Jennifer R. Smith, Johanna M. Kieniewicz, Katherine A. Adelsberger, C. S. “Rufus” Churcher, Aislinn E. Deely, Faizullah Mashriqi, Kassandra V. Spiller*, Joel I. B. Blickstein, Jane J. J. Gong, Rebecca A. Long (2013). In: Archaeological Chemistry VII (R. A. Armitage, J. Burton, Eds.) American Chemical Society, Washington, DC. Pp 321-364 (2013).
  • “Current Topics in ESR Dating”. Anne R. Skinner, Radiation Measurements 46, 749-753 (2011).
  • “Initial excavation and dating of Ngalue Cave: A Middle Stone Age Site along the Niassa Rift” J. Mercader, Y. Asmerom, T, Bennett, M. Raja, A. Skinner, Journal of Human Evolution, 57, 63-74 (2009).
  • “New geochronological, paleoclimatological and Paleolithic data from the Narmada Valley hominin locality, Central India” R. Patnaik, P. R. Chauhan, M. R. Rao, B.A.B. Blackwell, A. R. Skinner, A. Sahni, M.S. Chauhan, H. S. Kahn, Journal of Human Evolution, 56, 114-133 (2009).
  • “Expanding the Range of Electron Spin Resonance Dating” Anne R. Skinner, B. A. B. Blackwell, M. M. Hasan, J. I. B. Blickstein, in Archaeological Chemistry: Analytical Techniques and Archaeological Interpretation. ACS Symposium Series No. 968, Michael Glascock, Robert Speakman and Rachel Poelka-Filcoff, eds. American Chemical Society, Oxford University Press, pp. 1-14 (2007).
  • “ESR analyses on tooth enamel from Paleolithic layers of the Obi-Rakhmat hominid site, Uzbekistan: tackling a dating controversy” Anne R. Skinner, B. A. B. Blackwell, Patrick J. Wrinn, Abubakar Main, Shaunte Baboumian, J. I. B. Blickstein, A. I. Krivoshapakin, A. P. Derevianko, J. A. Lundburg, Radiation Measurements, 42, 1237-1242 (2007).
  • “ESR Analyses for Teeth from the Open-Air Site at Attirampakkam, India: Clues to Complex U Uptake and Paleoenvironmental Change” Bonnie A.B. Blackwell, Andrés Montoya, Joel I.B. Blickstein, Anne R. Skinner, Shanti Pappu, Yanni Gunnell, Maurice Taieb, Akhilesh Kumar, Joyce Lundberg, Radiation Measurements, 42, 1243-1249 (2007).
  • “Coupled 230Th/234U-ESR Analyses for Corals: A New Method to Assess Sealevel Change”, Bonnie A.B. Blackwell, Steve J.T. Teng, Joyce A. Lundberg, Joel I.B. Blickstein, Anne R. Skinner, Radiation Measurements, 42, 1250-1255 (2007).
  • “ESR Dating at Divje Babe I, Slovenia” Bonnie A. B. Blackwell, Edwin S. K. Yu, Anne R. Skinner, Ivan Turk, Joel I. B. Blickstein, Janez Turk, Vicky S. W. Yin and Beverly Lau, In: Divje Babe I: Upper Pleistocene Paleolithic site in Slovenia, Part 1: Geology and Paleontology, Ivan Turk, ed. Opera Instituti Archaeologici Slovenia #13, Ljubljana, ZRC, pp. 151-157 (2007).
  • “Franco-American renewed research at the Late Villafranchian locality of Senèze (Haute-Loire, France)” Delson, E., Faure, M., Guerin, C., Aprile, L., Argant, J., Blackwell L, B. A. B., Debard, E., Harcourt-Smith, W., Martin-Suarez, E., Monguillon, A., Parentia, F., Pastre, J.-P., Sen, S., Skinner, A. R., Swisher III, C. C., & Valli, A. M. F., Proceedings of the 18th International Senckenberg Conference (VI International Palaeontological Colloquium in Weimar) Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, vol. 256, pages 275-290 (2006).
  • “An Introduction to Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) Dating in Archaeology and Paleontology” Anne R. Skinner, The Review of Archaeology, 27, 87-97 (2006).
  • “ESR Dating at Mezmaiskaya Cave, Russia” A.R. Skinner, B.A.B. Blackwell, Sara Martin*, J.I.B. Blickstein, L.V. Golovanova & V.B. Doronichev, Applied Radiation and Isotopes, 62, 219-224 (2005).
  • “Fossilization Effects on U Uptake by Tooth Enamel: Insights into an ESR Dating Problem” A.R. Skinner, N.D. Chasteen, J.L. Shao, G.A. Goodfriend, B.A.B. Blackwell, Quaternary International, 135, 13-20 (2005).
  • “New Clues to Limits on ESR Dating” Anne R. Skinner, N. Dennis Chasteen, Pierre Brassard, and Bonnie A.B. Blackwell, Proceedings of the International Symposium on New Prospects in ESR Dosimetry and Dating (2003).
  • “Dating the Naisiusiu Beds, Olduvai Gorge, by Electron Spin Resonance (ESR)” A.R. Skinner, R.L. Hay, F. Masao, B.A.B. Blackwell, Quaternary Geochronology, 22, 1361-1366 (2003).
  • “Recent findings on the Acheulian of the Hungsi and Baichbal valleys, Karnataka, with special reference to the Isampur excavation and its dating” K. Paddayya, B.A.B. Blackwell, R. Jhaldiyal , M. D. Petraglia, S. Fevrier*, D. A. Chaderton II, J.I.B. Blickstein, A.R. Skinner, Current Science, 83, 641-647 (2002).
  • “Calibrating ESR ages in the 2-Ma range at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania” A.R. Skinner, B.A.B. Blackwell, V. Lothian*, Paleoanthropology Society, Kansas, MO, Journal of Human Evolution, 40, (3), A22 (2001).
  • “ESR dating: Is it still an “experimental” technique?” Anne R. Skinner, Applied Radiation & Isotopes, 52, 1311-1316 (2000).
  • “Improvements in dating tooth enamel by ESR,” A.R. Skinner, B.A.B. Blackwell, D.E. Chasteen, J.M. Shao, S.S. Min*, Applied Radiation & Isotopes, 52, 1337-1344 (2000).

* Williams student collaborator

Courses Taught

  • CHEM 151: Introductory Chemistry Laboratories
  • CHEM 153: Concepts of Chemistry Laboratories
  • CHEM 251: Organic Chemistry: Intermediate Laboratories
  • CHEM 255: Organic Chemistry – Special Laboratory Section
  • CHEM 256: Advanced Chemical Concepts Laboratories
  • CHEM 262T: Applying the Scientific Method to Archaeology & Paleoanthropology

Research Students

    • Kevin Eagan, ’16, Summer 2014, Independent Research Fall 2014
    • Selena Castro, ’16, Summer 2014
    • Terrance Mensah, ’16, Summer 2014
    • Kassandra Spillar, ’14, Summers 2011, 2013, Thesis, 2013-14
    • Tre’dez Colbert, ’14, Summer 2013
    • Logan Lawson, ’15, Summer 2013
    • Justin Mangope, Summer 2010, 2012
    • Nicole L Weiss, ’12, Summer 2011, Thesis 2011-2012
    • Natalie D. Loewen ’11, Summer 2010
    • Ivory N. Goudy, ’13, Summer 2010
    • Clarissa Andre ’12, Summer ’09
Sarah Franklin ’10, Summer ’09
    • Charles Shafer ’10, Summer ’09
    • Ruth Ezra ’10, Summer ’08
    • Leah Shoer ’09, Summer ’08
    • Michael Tcheyan ’10, Summer ’08
    • Ashwin Chandar ’09, Summer ’07
    • Claudia Lord ’09, Summer ’07
    • Kelly Smith ’09, Summer ’07
    • Ophelia Adipa ’06, Summer ’04
    • Abelee Ruth Esparza ’07, Summer ’04 & ’05
    • Sara Martin ’05, Summer ’02 & ’04
    • LaVonna Bowen ’06, Summer ’03
    • Joanna Lloyd ’05, Summer ’03
    • Catherine Mercado ’06, Summer ’03
    • Terry-Ann Suer ’05, Summer ’03
    • Drew Thompson ’05, Summer ’03
    • Dean Laochamroonvorapongse, Summer ’02
    • Ivan Manolov, Summer ’02
    • Terry-Ann Suer, Summer ’02
    • Arthur Okwesilsi, Summer ’01 & ’02
    • Kendrid LeShawn Mays, Summer ’00 & ’01
    • Valerie Lothian, Summer ’99 & ’00
    • Alan Velander, Summer ’99
    • Haibo Gu, Summer ’98
    • Zuzana Tothova, Summer ’98
    • Stephanie Min, Summer ’97
    • Kristen Hem, Summer ’96