H. Thomas Foster, II

Thomas Foster

Associate Professor of AnthropologyHarwell Hall Room 109

My teaching and research use models of economic behavior to understand how humans react to and manage environmental and social variability and how those decisions in turn affect resources in the biophysical environment. As an archaeologist, I have been using the time depth of archaeological and historical data to test models about resilience and adaptation among the Native Americans of the southeastern United States in response to colonialism and ecological change. I have published this research in two books and in journals such as Human Ecology, Human Organization, American Antiquity, the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, and the Journal of Anthropological Research.

I am currently working on a three year grant ($211,320) from NSF to identify the resilience of the Muscogee Creek people in the face of economic change and anthropogenic effects on their environment. This interdisciplinary project includes collaboration between The University of Tulsa, University of Arizona, Pennsylvania State University, Columbus State, University of West Florida, and the descendant communities. Understanding how human societies adapt to regime change and the long term effects of those changes on ecosystems is an important line of research for modern environmental managers and policy makers.

My specialty in anthropogenic and historical ecology has developed into a unique application of anthropology research. I have published on the use of archaeological information for modern environmental management and I serve as co-chair of the steering committee for Past Global Changes in the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP) which is funded by the NSF in the United States and Switzerland. I am working with the IGBP to inform international policy and research on environmental changes.

Education and Degrees Earned

  • Ph.D.(Anthropology), The Pennsylvania State University
  • M.A. (Anthropology), The Pennsylvania State University
  • B. A. (Anthropology), University of Georgia

Areas of Academic Specialty

Archaeology, Native Americans of the Southeastern United States, Anthropogenic ecology, GIS, Heritage management

Areas of Research Focus

Native Americans of the Southeastern United States, Anthropogenic ecology, GIS, modeling, Heritage management, curation, risk management

Previous Teaching Experience

  • The University of West Georgia
  • Northern Kentucky University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Elizabethtown College

Previous Relevant Work Experience

  • 2008-2012 Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, University of West Georgia
  • 2008-2012 Director, Antonio J. Waring, Jr. Archaeological Laboratory, University of West Georgia
  • 2005-2008 Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Philosophy, Northern Kentucky University
  • 2004-2005 Associate Director of Cultural Resources, BHE Environmental, Inc.
  • 2001-2004 Senior Archaeologist, Panamerican Consultants, Inc.
  • 1998-2001 Research Associate, Oak Ridge Laboratories, Oak Ridge, Tennessee
  • 1996-2001 Instructor, Department of Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University
  • 1999 Instructor, Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania

Professional Affiliations

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Anthropological Association (Life)
  • Society for American Archaeology
  • Southeastern Archaeological Conference (Life)
  • Society for Georgia Archaeology
  • Georgia Council of Professional Archaeologists
  • International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme - Past Global Changes

Courses Taught at TU

  • Culture, People, and Nature: General Anthropology (ANTH 1063)
  • Cultures Before History:Archaeology (ANTH 2053)

Awards & Recognition

  • 2011 Gaquere, Anne, Thomas Foster, Farooq Khan, and Kevin Shunn. Enhancing Undergraduate Chemistry Education through Incorporation of Art-based Experiments. National Science Foundation, DUE-1043847
  • 2010 Foster, Thomas, Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman, and Roger Brown. Collaborative Research: Apalachicola Ecosystems Project. National Science Foundation, BCS-1026542, BCS-1026308, and BCS-1026652
  • 2010 Foster, Thomas. Consultation of Archaeological Collections for the creation of a long-range plan at the Antonio J. Waring, Jr. Archaeological Laboratory, University of West Georgia. National Endowment for the Humanities
  • 2008 Historic Preservation Award, Historic Columbus Foundation, for the museum exhibit "The Chattahoochee Valley: Colonial Frontier" at the Columbus Museum, Columbus, Georgia, March 2 - September 6
  • 1998-2001 Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program Research Grant, Department of Defense


  • Managing biodiversity using long-term regional data in the southeastern United States
    2011 Foster, Thomas. Past Global Changes, 19(2): 56-57. International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, 2011. Peer Reviewed Journal Article
  • Editorial: Integrative Paleoscience for Sustainable Management
    2011 Dearing, John, Markus Dotterweich, Thomas Foster. Editorial: Integrative Paleoscience for Sustainable Management. Past Global Changes, 19(2): 43. International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme,Peer Reviewed Journal Article.
  • Sampling of Data Derived from Historical Documents in Anthropological Research
    2010 Foster, Thomas and Arthur Cohen. American Antiquity 75(4): 973-977. Peer Reviewed Journal Article
  • Studying the Past for the Future: Managing Modern Biodiversity from Historic and Prehistoric Data
    2010 Foster, Thomas, Lisa Olsen, Virginia Dale, and Arthur Cohen. Human Organization 69(2): 149-157. Peer Reviewed Journal Article
  • Archaeology of the Lower Muskogee Creek Indians
    2007 Foster, Thomas. 1715-1830. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.
  • The Collected Works of Benjamin Hawkins, 1796-1810
    2003 Foster, Thomas, editor. University of Alabama, Press Tuscaloosa