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Health Sciences staff profiles

Sindy Luu

PositionPhD Student
DepartmentDepartment of Anatomy
QualificationsMSc BSc(Hons) BA
Research summaryEvaluating genetic methods in the study of zooarchaeological remains across Near Oceania
TeachingDemonstrator and tutor for anthropology and archaeology undergraduate papers
  • Co-Convenor, Department of Anatomy Emerging Researchers Group Committee
  • Committee member, Department of Anatomy Outreach and Engagement Committee
  • Postgraduate representative, Department of Anatomy


Ancient DNA (aDNA) and genetic analyses have immense potential to describe the dynamic relationships between humans and animals, and their environments. I focus on how aDNA investigations of zooarchaeological materials can engage with longstanding archaeological research questions relevant to Near Oceania and the Pacific. Themes include human subsistence strategies, resource use over time, and the translocation of commensal species into new regions.

Overall, my thesis aims to demonstrate the feasibility of various aDNA and High-Throughput Sequencing (HTS) approaches within a tropical context. Key sites include New Ireland (testing DNA preservation within tropical environments); the Papua New Guinea highlands (exploitation of mammals for subsistence); and the Solomon Islands and Adele Island in Australia (commensal model, migration of people and commensal animals). The HTS approaches I use include bulk bone metabarcoding and complete mitochondrial genome sequencing.


Roberts, P., Douka, K., Tromp, M., Bedford, S., Hawkins, S., Bouffandeau, L., … Luu, S., … Summerhayes, G., & Spriggs, M. (2022). Fossils, fish and tropical forests: Prehistoric human adaptations on the island frontiers on Oceania. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 377, 20200495. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2020.0495

Gaffney, D., Summerhayes, G. R., Luu, S., Menzies, J., Douglass, K., Spitzer, M., & Bulmer, S. (2021). Small game hunting in montane rainforests: Specialised capture and broad specturm foraging in the Late Pleistocene to Holocene New Guinea Highlands. Quaternary Science Reviews, 253, 106742. doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2020.106742

Wang, N., Brown, S., Ditchfield, P., Hebestreit, S., Kozilikin, M., Luu, S., … Summerhayes, G., … Douka, K. (2021). Testing the efficacy and comparability of ZooMS protocols on archaeological bone. Journal of Proteomics, 233, 104078. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2020.104078

Gaffney, D., Greig, K., Stoddart, D., Tromp, M., Field, J. H., Luu, S., … Russell, T., … Summerhayes, G. R. (2020). Tropical foodways and exchange along the coastal margin of Northeastern New Guinea. Journal of Field Archaeology, 45(7), 498-511. doi: 10.1080/00934690.2020.1786285

Field, J. H., Summerhayes, G. R., Luu, S., Coster, A. C. F., Ford, A., Mandui, H., … Kealhofer, L. (2020). Functional studies of flaked and ground stone artefacts reveal starchy tree nut and root exploitation in mid-Holocene highland New Guinea. Holocene, 30(9), 1360-1374. doi: 10.1177/0959683620919983