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Department of Anthropology


Gail Wagner

Title: Associate Professor
Department: Anthropology
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 803-777-6548
Office: Gambrell Hall, 432
Resources: Curriculum Vitae [pdf]
My website

Gail Wagner


Gail Wagner joined the USC faculty in 1989 after completing her M.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. She is affiliated faculty with the Environment and Sustainability Program in the School of the Earth, Ocean, and Environment at USC. As a long-time member of the SC Humanities Council Speaker’s Bureau, she travels around the state giving public talks on human-plant relationships and on archaeology. Additionally, she has given numerous workshops and talks on science education at national and international conferences. Since 1978, she has served as a consultant and source for re-creating eastern North American Indian traditional gardens.


ANTH 101 Primates, People & Prehistory

ANTH 212 Food and Culture

ANTH 213 Ethnobotany: Plants and Peoples

ANTH 319 Principles of Archaeology

ANTH 322 Field School in Archaeology

ANTH 513 Anthropological Ethnobotany

ANTH 525 Ethnoecology

ANTH 550 Archaeological Laboratory Methods

ANTH 711 Professionalism and Ethics

ANTH 722 Summer Field School in Archaeology

Research Interests

Archaeology, paleoethnobotany, ethnobotany, chiefdoms


Dr. Wagner’s research centers on the relationships between people and plants, both in the past (paleoethnobotany) and the present (ethnobotany) in eastern North America. At times she has focused on the (pre)histories of specific plants (maize, tobacco, sumpweed) and on macrobotanical recovery methods. Her current paleoethnobotanical research explores changes in foodways associated with times of cultural contact and change. Her ethnobotanical research centers around issues of ecoliteracy and conceptual categories.

Representative Publications 

Refereed Articles and Chapters

2014   by Gail E. Wagner and Peter H. Carrington. Sumpweed or Marshelder (Iva annua). In New Lives for Ancient and Extinct Crops, edited by Paul E. Minnis, University of Arizona Press, Tucson. pp. 65-101.

2014   by Kelly M. Cobourn, Edward R. Landa, and Gail E. Wagner. Of Silt and Ancient Voices: Water and the Zuni Land & People, National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science.

2008   Botanical Knowledge of a Group of College Students in South Carolina, U.S.A. Ethnobotanical Research & Applications6:443-458.

2008   What Seasonal Diet at a Fort Ancient Community Reveals About Coping Mechanisms. In Case Studies in Environmental Archaeology, 2nd ed., edited by Elizabeth J. Reitz, C. Margaret Scarry, and Sylvia J. Scudder, Springer, NY. pp. 277-296.

2005   Anthropogenic Changes at the Carlston Annis Site. In Archaeology of the Middle Green River Region, edited by William H. Marquardt  and Patty Jo Watson, Institute of Archaeology and Paleoenvironmental Studies,  Monograph No. 5. University of Florida, Gainesville. pp. 213-242.

2003   Eastern Woodlands Anthropogenic Ecology. In People and Plants in Ancient Eastern North America, edited by Paul E. Minnis. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. , pp. 126-171.

2000   Tobacco in Prehistoric Eastern North America. In Tobacco Use by Native North Americans: Sacred Smoke and Silent Killer, edited by Joseph C. Winter, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. pp. 185-201.

1993  Corn in Eastern Woodlands Late Prehistory. In Corn and Culture in the Prehistoric New World, ed. by S. Johannessen and C. Hastorf, Westview Press, Boulder. pp. 335-346.

1990  Charcoal, Isotopes, and Shell Hoes: Reconstructing a 12th Century Native American Garden. Expedition 32(2):34-43.

1988  Comparability Among Recovery Techniques.  In Current  Paleoethnobotany: Analytical Methods and Cultural Interpretations of Archaeological Plant Remains. ed. by C. A. Hastorf and V. Popper, University of Chicago Press. Pp. 17-35.

Recent Accomplishments 

2014   Presidential Award from the Society for Economic Botany, for outstanding service

2009-2014  NSF RCN-UBE grant co-PI, Open Science: An Education Network in Ethnobiology to Coordinate the Development of a New Culture in the Undergraduate Science Classroom.

2014   Research-Based Learning. In Innovative Strategies for Teaching in the Plant Sciences, edited by Cassandra L. Quave, pp. 61-82. Springer Press, NY. DOI 10.1007/978-1-4939-9422-8_5

2013   Represented Society for Economic Botany at “Vision and Change in Biology Undergraduate Education: Chronicling Change, Inspiring the Future”. AAAS, with  support from NSF, NIH, HHMI, PULSE, and USDA. Washington, D.C. (by competitive application). Member of “How to Build Networks for Change” Working Group. 28-30 August.

2013   Vision & Change for Undergraduate Ethnobiology Education in the U.S.A.: Recommended Curriculum Assessment Guidelines. Will C. McClatchey, Gail E. Wagner, Karen Hall, and Patricia D. Harrison, editors. Produced by the Open Science Network, Botanical Research Institute of Texas Press, Fort Worth, TX.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.