Sheila Vinton

Sheila Vinton

Adjunct Instructor in Anthropology
Sociology and Anthropology
Office location

Office of Sociology and Anthropology, Smith-Curtis 140

svinton [at]

My research and educational background allows me to engage with NWU students' varied cultural and biological interests. I conducted fieldwork and research in Peru and Chile for my masters degree which investigated dietary change from the pre-Inka to the Inka culture in the Lluta Valley near Arica, Chile. In order to do this, I developed a reference collection of botanicals, lived and worked among the Aymara and local population, and worked in an agricultural laboratory to process my coprolite samples. Analyzing the samples involved examining macroscopic residues and microscopic residues including pollen and starch using light and scanning electron microscopy.

I lived and worked in South Korea for four years and four months. Especially my two years working at a Korean airline allowed me to make ethnographic observations of corporate Korean culture and to travel extensively throughout Asia.

My Ph.D. research is with Sudanese New American families. The main objective for this research is to examine how past food difficulty due to war affects current food-related behavior and gender roles using a food-centered life history approach.


Nebraska Wesleyan University
B.S. 1994
Major: Psychology Minor: Biology

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
M.A. 1997
Major: Anthropology Minor: Botany

University of Kentucky
Ph.D. in progress

Courses taught

LAS: Intersections of Food, History, and Culture,
LAS: The Local and Global in Food Politics,
Asian Cultures,
Introduction to Anthropology,
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology,
Sub-Saharan African Cultures,
Physical Anthropology and Human Evolution,
Latin American Cultures

Research and academic interests

Very broadly, I’m interested in biocultural approaches to studying nutritional anthropology. This interest centers on archaeological and present day consumption of food whether it is what foods people choose to eat or the biological and social consequences of their food choices. Additionally, I’m interested in the environmental and social constraints on food choices and how constraints can be manipulated to influence overall health and wellbeing. Other broad issues of interest include biological consequences of rapid social and diet change, biological consequences of food insecurity and poverty, health disparities and child growth. Ultimately, I find that immigrant/refugee experiences present the opportunity to investigate the above issues.

Key words: biocultural and cultural approaches to nutritional anthropology and foodways; health disparities due to poverty and food insecurity; dietary reconstruction; food history; dietary transitions; paleoethnobotany; starch granule analysis; pollen analysis as related to diet; Great Plains and Andean botany; human variation and adaptability; peoples of the Andes, Asia, Sudan, and West Africa and forced migrants and other immigrants in the United States

Service interests

I think that service is a key component of lifelong learning. Therefore, I include service learning opportunities in most of my courses. I find that service learning especially enhances the anthropological concepts that I wish to convey to my students in a way that is more meaningful and enduring than classroom work alone. Places that my students have served include:

Asian Community and Cultural Center
El Centro
Caring People Sudan
Huntington and Elliott Elementary Schools
Community Crops
Food Bank of Lincoln
The Gathering Place
Various after school programs
And many other places

My Current Service:

Asian Community and Cultural Center, Board Member and Vice President

Professional and community affiliations, certifications and awards

Lambda Alpha, National Collegiate Honor Society for Anthropology, Member
Chapter President FA10/SP11

American Anthropological Association, Member

Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition, Member
Biological Anthropology Section, Member
Central States Anthropological Society, Member
National Association for the Practice of Anthropology, Member
Society for the Anthropology of North America, Member
Society for Urban, National, and Transnational/Global Anthropology, Member
Medical Anthropology Association, Member
ACC, Member
IGAPP, Member
IGNN, Member

Sudan Studies Association, Member