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Hands-on learning is key to the educational experience in the Saint Louis University Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Offering lab opportunities in archaeology, forensic science, health policy, geospatial science and urban policy, the department supports research and innovation at every turn.

Our advanced laboratories enhance student learning through applied research. The academic work done in the labs not only helps students develop new skills but also provides a new way of seeing and applying lessons from the classroom.

The labs promote analytic thinking and fact-based decision making, giving students who want to work on academic publications, grants or applied solutions to local challenges the chance to get started as early as their freshman or sophomore years. Faculty in the labs serve as mentors for the students as they conduct their own cutting-edge applied research.

Erik Hall teaches SOC 4550: Crime Scene Investigation in the Forensic Science Lab.

Lab Options

Archaeology Lab

Principal Investigator: Mary R. Vermilion, Ph.D.

SLU’s Archaeology Lab is located on the third floor of Morrissey Hall and provides a workspace where students can explore and contribute to the science of archaeology. The lab provides hands-on opportunities for students to explore prehistoric and historic lithics, ceramics and other materials. During the summer, the lab is the site for processing artifacts recovered from excavations. In addition to washing, sorting and creating an inventory of the archaeological record, students learn to identify, sketch and photograph the diagnostics, and to analyze and interpret the remains.

Students enrolled in a research activity, advanced independent study or capstone course have access to the lab to work on their own research or that of the principal investigator. They also have the opportunity to publish their research or to contribute to the excavation site reports.

The lab computer is equipped with ArcGIS and is available for students to implement their research. School groups and other members of the community can also visit the lab to learn about our human past.

Forensic Science Lab

Principal Investigator: Richard Colignon, Ph.D.

SLU’s Forensic Science Lab is a teaching and research space that explores chemical and biological evidence as it applies to civil and criminal law. Located in Beracha Hall, the lab offers the latest hardware, software and safety equipment. It has adjoining offices and classrooms to provide a teaching and research suite with an up-to-date learning environment for students and a state-of-the-art installation for forensic science experimentation and research. The lab can fulfill some curricular needs for forensic anthropology, biology and chemistry. It houses SOC 4550: Crime Scene Investigation, offered each spring and taught by Erik Hall of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

Health Policy Research Lab

Principal Investigator: Hisako Matsou, Ph.D.

SLU’s Health Policy Research Lab focuses on applied and community-based research relevant to health issues.

Areas of research include:

  • Access to healthcare among immigrants
  • Physical and mental health of older adults
  • Refugee children's health
  • Language development of internationally adopted children
  • Artificial reproductive treatment
  • Caregiving insurance

Learn More

Geospatial Science Research and Innovation (GeoSRI) Lab

Principal Investigator: J.S. Onésimo Sandoval, Ph.D.

SLU’s GeoSRI lab explores the intersection of spatial statistics, demography, inequality, policy and justice. Of special interest to the lab is the role that cutting-edge geoinformatics and computational spatial science can play in exploring the relationship between quality of life, social inequality, space and justice.

The lab is located in Morrissey Hall and has 26 high-powered specialized computers. It supports "R", "STATA", "SAS" and "SPSS" programming, as well as numerous geospatial mapping and related programs with applications across disciplines and areas of specialization in the sciences, social sciences and humanities.

Areas of research include:

  • The intersection of neighborhood demographic transitions and racial inequality
  • Spatial segregation in American cities
  • Latino demographic trends
  • Demographic analysis of immigrant mobility
  • Journey-to-crime spatial models
  • Spatial analysis of food deserts
  • The spatial hierarchy cities: a computational approach to measure spatial inequality
  • A spatial analysis of warrants in Saint Louis County: municipal courts, race and place
  • Urban heat island effects and socio-environmental inequality in humid environments: a case study in the St. Louis Metropolitan region

Learn More 

Urban Lab

Principal Investigators: Bruce O'Neill, Ph.D. and Daniel Monti, Ph.D.

The Urban lab explores issues related to urban sociology, urban anthropology and urban social policy.