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Viking Fund Medalist
The Board of Trustees of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, upon the recommendation of the Foundation's Advisory Council of anthropologists, has awarded the 2005 Viking Fund Medal to Dr. George Armelagos, Professor of Anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
First awarded in 1946, the Viking Fund Medal continued to be presented to exceptional anthropologists until 1972. Reinstituted in 2003, the medal rewards a scholar still active in scholarship, pedagogy, and service to the profession. The Viking Fund Medal is given to an anthropologist who has achieved real breakthroughs in scholarship, as well as contributing in other ways to the field such as mentoring distinguished new researchers, creating new professional institutions, and developing new curricula.
Dr. Armelagos is a biological anthropologist whose contributions and numerous publications span the broad field of Anthropology. His special interests lie in the interaction of biological and cultural systems within an evolutionary context. Through his research in the 1960s and 1970s with Sudanese Nubia, Dickson Mounds, and elsewhere, he revolutionized the study of ancient disease in human populations by promoting an epidemiological approach and highlighting the evolutionary and ecological factors that are instrumental to the disease process. He has also done influential work on the evolution of food choice and the impacts of the agricultural transition on human populations in terms of health and disease. This work has resulted in a general theory of the evolution of human disease and the epidemiological transitions that have taken place throughout the course of human history. Through his work he has also encouraged a new generation of skeletal biologists to think about disease in prehistory in complex theoretical ways and back it up with good, empirical research.
One of Dr. Armelagos' main contributions is the central role he has played in the establishment, development an