Summer Interdisciplinary Research Opportunities Abound

A variety of summer research activities are planned for 2014-2015. Interested undergraduate and graduate students from a broad cross-section of disciplines have submitted proposals for internships in the Cobb Research Lab. After choosing a research topic team to be a part of, 10 students who have completed their CITI training will spend 9 weeks over the summer at the Cobb Research Laboratory. Here, they will be intensively engaged in studies of selected subsets of the Cobb Collection to address specific hypotheses. Links have been made with additional laboratories on campus and research institutes in the region to supplement student research exposures. After the summer work, students will have an opportunity to extend their research studies into the Fall Semester through active discussion and peer-reviewed writing sessions. In the Spring Semester 2015, students will present their research results during Howard University’s annual Research Day (Spring Semester) and submit a paper on their studies for peer-reviewed publication consideration. 


Digitization of the Cobb Collection and Creation of an Interactive Database
Provide standardized database on Cobb Collection individuals to facilitate identification and use of specific specimens.

Molecular and Osteological Identifications of Cobb Collection individuals
 What is the correspondence of genotype and phenotype in the morphometrics of the Cobb Collection individuals?
Rationale and Anticipated Impact: Little is known of the correlation of skeletal phenotype and specific candidate genes. This study could uniquely address this relationship through the collaboration of a number of key disciplinary experts.

Biomolecular Paleopathology of Cobb Collection individuals
 What is the skeletal and molecular evidence of disease pathology in the Cobb Collection individuals?
Infectious diseases that leave a record in the skeletal biology have not been studied intensively in African Americans, nor tied to their historical record of exposure. This study would be a significant contribution to understanding the past infectious disease exposure histories of East Coast African Americans by providing evidence-based data contextualized by population history.

Health of the mid-19th Century to mid-20th Century African American population as revealed by Cobb Collection individuals
 What were the major health constraints evident in The Cobb Collection individuals; to what extent did they reflect health inequities prevalent during slavery; and how might the health profiles have shifted over 100 years?
Rationale and Anticipated Impact: This research would greatly expand the current parameters of health disparities research and provide a unique integrated biosocial analysis and interpretation. This would be trend-setting among studies of diseases of public health significance.

Documenting the lives of the African Americans of The Cobb Collection
Provide visual and written documentation of this collection, highlights in the life of Professor Cobb, and detail the interdisciplinary research being done on the collected skeletons at Howard University. This project has great potential to integrate the Arts and Humanities into the larger university-wide project.

Geo-spatial assessments of the New York African Burial Ground gravesites
Researchers from the Cobb Research Laboratory and the University of Maryland’s Department of Geographical Sciences are collaborating on spatial evaluations of the gravesites of the New York African Burial Ground. Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), researchers are examining patterns in the horizontal and vertical placements of graves. These data, it is hoped, will provide preliminary data for an expanded 
(and fundable) future research proposal.


Cobb Lab