Faculty Spotlight


Faculty Spotlight

After leaving Chile as a young girl, Maria Rosado, Ph.D. did not see her grandmother again until she finished her graduate studies in anthropology 18 years later. When she returned to visit, her grandmother suggested stopping by a small, local museum, knowing that her granddaughter enjoyed history. Not particularly interested, but wanting to please her grandmother, Rosado agreed to the visit.

The decision changed her life.

“I walked into this museum and saw hundreds of human skeletons from ancient Chilean populations,” Rosado says. “And I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if anyone is studying these bones?’”

Rosado has since built a career out of being the person who studies those bones. As a paleopathologist she researches ancient diseases by studying human bones. Her research contributes to the world’s understanding of the history of disease and how long-ago populations of people adapted culturally over time.

Today, Rosado has a Rowan partnership with the Chilean museum she visited as a young anthropologist. Every August she travels to the Museo de la Serena (the Archaeological Museum of La Serena) with a small team of undergraduate students, to continue studying the skeletons and to lead a workshop on forensic anthropology for local police and medical examiners. The students teach the law enforcement professionals how to differentiate between ancient bones and modern bones, and instruct them on the proper handling of ancient remains. Once home, the students continue their research, presenting their findings at professional conferences and publishing research with Rosado.

“I am very glad that I told my grandmother I would go with her to the museum that day,” Rosado says. “This is a part of the world that hasn’t really been studied or documented, and I am proud of the work that my students and I have done.”