Dr. Sophia C. Dent


Ph.D. 2020 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
B.A. 2013 Lehigh University 

Areas of Research:

Biological anthropology, skeletal biology and osteology, stable isotope analysis, nutrition, food security, periodontal disease and dental calculus, physiological plasticity; Southeastern North America


Our Primate Heritage labs, Biological Anthropology, Nutritional Anthropology, Human Osteology, Bioarchaeology, Anthropology and Global Health


Dr. Dent is a biological anthropologist who focuses on nutrition and skeletal biology. Her research has two broad themes: (1) She combines stable isotope analysis, paleomicrobial analysis, and osteological analysis to reconstruct the food practices and nutrition of past populations.  The goal of this work is to understand change over time in foodways and amplify Indigenous knowledge to address critical challenges in food sovereignty, nutritional ecology, and nutritional equity. And, (2) she analyzes the role of the skeleton in whole-body health – particularly the interplay between the skeletal system, the immune system, and nutrition – to understand how the skeleton shapes and is shaped by stress across the life course. She is committed to community engagement through her research projects and courses, as well as advancing minimally-destructive and ethically-compliant methods in her research and teaching.

Representative publications:

Dent SC & Hutchinson DL. 2023. Employing local food resources for dietary reconstruction via stable isotope analysis. In CM Scarry, DL Hutchinson, & BS Arbuckle (Eds.), Ancient Foodways (pp. 279-304). University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

Dent SC, Hutchinson DL, & Bruce MW. 2023. The effects of foodways practices on nutritional availability. In CM Scarry, DL Hutchinson, & BS Arbuckle (Eds.), Ancient Foodways (pp. 305-326). University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

Dent SC, Berger SM, & Griffin JS. 2021. Biocultural pathways linking periodontal disease expression to food insecurity, immune dysregulation, and nutrition. American Journal of Human Biology, 33(2), e23549. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.23549

Griffin JS, Dent SC, & Berger SM. 2021. Pathways linking activity, adiposity, and inflammation to bone mineral density in women and men from NHANES 2007 to 2010. American Journal of Human Biology, 33(2), e23583. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.23583

Berger SM, Griffin JS, & Dent SC. 2021. Phenotypes and pathways: Working towards an integrated skeletal biology in biological anthropology. American Journal of Human Biology, 33(2), e23450. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.23450

Dent SC. 2017. Interindividual differences in embodied marginalization: Osteological and stable isotope analyses of antebellum enslaved individuals. American Journal of Human Biology, 29(4), e23021. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.23021

Title: Visiting Assistant Professor
Department: Department of Anthropology

Email address: Email me

Phone: (828) 262-7784

Fax: (828) 262-2982

Office address
324 Anne Belk Hall