Tuesday Frasier, M.S.
Education: Bachelor of Science in anthropology (May 2017)
Master of Science in anthropology at Syracuse University
Currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in applied anthropology (biological track) at the University of South Florida
McNair Project: The Effect of Nutritional Stresses on the Cortical Thickness in New Zealand White Rabbits (2016)
Mentor: Marta Alfonso-Durruty, Ph.D.
Cortical thickness has been occasionally used as a non-specific indicator of stress to study past population's health status. However, further study, based on experimental models, is needed to assess cortical thickness potential as a non-specific marker of stress. Using an experimental animal model, this study evaluates cortical-thickness response to nutritional conditions. The cortical thickness was assessed in the osteological remains of 45 New Zealand White rabbits (NZW). During their developmental period, NZW were divided into three dietary groups; Control (normal diet), Experimental-1 (chronically undernourished), and Experimental 2 (periodically fasted). The left humerus and femur were CT scanned and the cortical thickness in the anterior aspect at the 40% maximum length site of both bones was measured in mm using the imaging software 3-D slicer. Cortical thickness in the femur showed to be similar the Control (x̅=1.22, SD=.25), Experimental-1( x̅=1.27, SD=.31) and Experimental-2 groups (x̅=1.48, SD=.28). Likewise, results for the humerus's cortical thickness showed the Control (x̅=1.39, SD=.36), Experimental-1 (x̅=1.30, SD=.39) and Experimental-2 (x̅=1.63, SD=.23) to be similar. Comparisons between the groups failed to reveal any significant difference between the groups (p>.05). Thus, preliminary results suggest that cortical thickness is not sensitive to general nutritional stress, or that the nutritional treatments were not severe enough to alter the cortical thickness of these NZW. Further analyses of other sites in these two bones are needed, and other experimental studies are also required to assess the sensitivity of cortical thickness to stresses, and its potential as a non-specific stress marker in past populations.