Faculty Profile - Robert Patalano - 460x460

Robert Patalano

I am an archaeologist and biological anthropologist who specializes in early human paleoecology. Currently, I'm a Lecturer in the Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, School of Health & Behavioral Sciences, Bryant University and a Research Affiliate in the isoTROPIC Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Geoanthropology.

My research lies at the intersection of paleoanthropology, paleoecology, and geochemistry and combines traditional archaeological field methods with area-defining laboratory techniques to cast new, detailed light on relationships between environmental processes, cultural change, and human evolution. I have an extensive research portfolio and network which geographically spans eastern, southern, and western Africa, the Middle East, east and southeast Asia, and western Europe, and temporally covers the past two million years.

Much of my work investigates the role climatic and environmental variability had in shaping human origins and diversification. To do so, I use a suite of archaeological biomarkers to reconstruct past plant ecology and water availability (plant waxes), anthropogenic fire history (aromatic hydrocarbons), and population dynamics (faecal stanols and sterols). I am also an expert in multiple gas chromatography and mass spectrometry analytical techniques, including compound specific stable isotope ratio mass spectrometry.

Ph D, University of Calgary

MS, University of New Haven

BA, Bryant University

I have encountered many types of classes and pedagogical approaches during my journey in higher education, a journey that began with a concentration in business administration, followed by a shift to environmental science, and finally a move to paleoanthropology and archaeology. These experiences have allowed me to develop strong sentiments toward situational teaching and learning and have strengthened my ability to engage with students with varied abilities, motivations, and learning styles who come from distinct backgrounds and skillsets. Whether as a teaching assistant, laboratory instructor, or lecturer, I always try and include my educational, field, and laboratory experiences and emphasize the global perspective of my research to engage students and help them excel in courses that may or may not be part of their core curriculum.

Much of my research can be broadly defined as the development of 'on-site' isotopic records of human-environment interaction from archaeological- and hominin-bearing sediments. Mainly, I am interested in paleoenvironmental proxies of immediate relevance to the archaeological record, and use biogeochemical methods, such as plant wax biomarker stable isotopes, to provide detailed insight into vegetation change, precipitation patterns, biodiversity, and other paleoclimatological and paleoecological conditions. However, while this research theme has been applied in archaeology and paleoanthropology, records often remain at some distance from archaeological sites of interest.<br><br>My current research falls into three overarching themes:<br>1) Reconstruction of Pleistocene climates and environments to look at the ways in which hominins responded physically, technologically, and culturally to differing ecological settings throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe.<br>2) Application of innovative field and laboratory methods to address how early <i>Homo </i>adaptations to climatic shifts and environmental reorganizations differed from that of other hominins.<br>3) Production of higher temporal and spatial resolution paleoecological datasets within multidimensional archaeological and paleoanthropological projects to understand biome- and intrabiome-scale ecological change and the influence on human origins.<br><br><b>Publications</b><br><br>2022. Patalano, R., Hu, J., Leng, Q., Liu, W., Wang, H., Roberts, P., Storozum, M., Yang, L., Yang, H. Ancient Great Wall building materials reveal environmental changes associated with oases in northwestern China. Sci Rep 12, 22517. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-27071-4">https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-27071-4</a>.<br><br>2022. Mercader, J., Beley, G., Bushozi, P., Clarke, S., Favreau, J., Itambu, M., Jianfeng, Z., Koromo, S., Larter, F., Lee, P., Maley, J., Fernández-Marchena, J., Mohamed, A., Mwambwiga, A., Ngisaruni, B., Kingi, M., Olesilau, L., Patalano, R., Pedergnana, A., Sammynaiken, R., Siljedal, J., Soto, M., Tucker, L., Walde, D., Olle, A. Microbotanical residues for the study of early hominin tools. Scientific Reports 12(1): 2951. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-06959-1">https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-06959-1</a>.<br><br>2021. Patalano, R., Hamilton, R., Finestone, E., Amano, N., Heddell-Stevens, P., Itambu, M., Petraglia, M. D., Roberts, P. Microhabitat Variability in Human Evolution. Frontiers in Earth Science. Special Issue: Extreme Events in Human Evolution: From the Pliocene to the Anthropocene. 9:787669. <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/feart.2021.787669">https://doi.org/10.3389/feart.2021.787669</a>.<br><br>2021. Patalano, R., Roberts, P., Boivin, N., Petraglia, M., Mercader, J. Plant Wax Biomarkers in Human Evolutionary Studies. Evolutionary Anthropology 1–14. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/evan.21921">https://doi.org/10.1002/evan.21921</a>.<br><br>2021. Mercader, J., Akuku, P., Boivin, N., Bugumba, R., Bushozi, P., Camacho, A., Carter, T., Clarke, S., Cueva-Temprana, A., Durkin, P., Favreau, J., Fella, K., Haberle, S., Hubbard, S., Inwood, J., Itambu, M., Koromo, S., Lee, P., Mohammed, A., Mwambwiga, A., Olesilau, L., Patalano, R., Roberts, P., Rule, S., Saladie, P., Siljedal, G., Soto, M., Umbsaar, J., Petraglia, M. Earliest Olduvai hominins exploited unstable environments ~ 2 million years ago. Nature Communications 12, 3. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20176-2.">https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20176-2.</a><br><br>2020. Patalano, R., Zech, J., Roberts, P. Leaf Wax Lipid Extraction for Archaeological Applications. Current Protocols in Plant Biology 5, e20114. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/cppb.20114">https://doi.org/10.1002/cppb.20114</a>.<br><br>2020. Favreau, J., Soto, M., Nair, R., Bushozi, P.M., Clarke, S., DeBuhr, C.L., Durkin, P.R., Hubbard, S.M., Inwood, J., Itambu, M., Larter, F., Lee, P., Marr, R.A., Mwambwiga, A., Patalano, R., Tucker, L., Mercader, J. Petrographic Characterization of Raw Material Sources at Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania. Frontiers in Earth Science 8. <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/feart.2020.00158">https://doi.org/10.3389/feart.2020.00158</a>.<br><br>2020. Tucker, L., Favreau, J., Itambu, M., Larter, F., Mollel, N., Mwambwiga, A., Patalano, R., Roberts, P., Soto, M., Mercader, J. Initial Assessment of Bioavailable Strontium at Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania: Potential for Early Mobility Studies. Journal of Archaeological Science 114. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2019.105066">https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2019.105066</a>.<br><br>2020. Soto, M., Favreau, J., Campeau, K., Carter, T., Abtosway, M., Bushozi, P.M., Clarke, S., Durkin, P.R., Hubbard, S.M., Inwood, J., Itambu, M., Koromo, S., Larter, F., Lee, P., Mwambwiga, A., Nair, R., Olesilau, L., Patalano, R., Tucker, L., Mercader, J. Fingerprinting of quartzitic outcrops at Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 29, 102010. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2019.102010">https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2019.102010</a>.<br><br>2019. Mercader, J., Clarke, S., Bundala, M., Favreau, J., Inwood, J., Itambu, M., Larter, F., Lee, P., Lewiski-Mcquaid, G., Mollel, N., Mwambwiga, A., Patalano, R., Soto, M., Tucker, L., Walde, D. Soil and plant phytoliths from the Acacia-Commiphora mosaics at Oldupai Gorge (Tanzania). PeerJ 7, e8211. <a href="https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.8211">https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.8211</a>.<br><br>2019. Soto, M., Inwood, J., Clarke, S., Crowther, A., Covelli, D., Favreau, J., Itambu, M., Larter, S., Lee, P., Lozano, M., Maley, J., Mwambwiga, A., Patalano, R., Sammynaiken, R., Vergès, J.M., Zhu, J., Mercader, J., Structural characterization and decontamination of dental calculus for ancient starch research. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 11, 4847-4872. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-019-00830-7">https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-019-00830-7</a>.<br><br>2018. Mercader, J., Abtosway, M., Bird, R., Bundala, M., Clarke, S., Favreau, J., Inwood, J.L., Itambu, M., Larter, F., Lee, P., Patalano, R., Soto, M., Tucker, L., Walde, D. Morphometrics of Starch Granules From Sub-Saharan Plants and the Taxonomic Identification of Ancient Starch. Frontiers in Earth Science 6. <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/feart.2018.00146">https://doi.org/10.3389/feart.2018.00146</a>.<br><br>2018. Mercader, J., Akeju, T., Brown, M., Bundala, M., Collins, M.J., Copeland, L., Crowther, A., Dunfield, P., Henry, A.G., Inwood, J., Itambu, M., Kim, J.-J., Longo, L., Oldenburg, T., Patalano, R., Sammynaiken, R., Soto, M., Tyler, R., Xhauflair, H. Exaggerated expectations in ancient starch research and the need for new taphonomic and authenticity criteria. Facets 3, 777-798. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1139/facets-2017-0126">https://doi.org/10.1139/facets-2017-0126</a>.<br><br>2017. Mercader, J., Abtosway, M., Baquedano, E., William Bird, R.W., Diez-Martin, F., Domínguez-Rodrigo, M., Favreau, J., Itambu, M., Lee, P., Mabulla, A., Patalano, R., Pérez-González, A., Santonja, M., Tucker, L., Walde, D. Starch Contamination Landscapes in Field Archaeology: Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Boreas. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/bor.12241">https://doi.org/10.1111/bor.12241</a>.<br><br>2016. Mercader, J., Patalano, R., Favreau, J., Itambu, M., Kumbani, J., Marufu, H. Acheulean prepared core technologies from the eastern Zimbabwe Escarpment, Maunganidze (Manicaland). Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 8, 47-62. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2016.05.046">https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2016.05.046</a>.<br><br>2015. Patalano, R., Wang, Z., Leng, Q., Liu, W., Zheng, Y.F., Sun, G.P., Yang, H. Hydrological changes facilitated early rice farming in the lower Yangtze River Valley in China: A molecular isotope analysis. Geology 43, 639-642. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1130/G36783.1">https://doi.org/10.1130/G36783.1</a>.