Kate Magargal portrait
  • Graduate Research Assistant, Anthropology Department
  • Postdoc Paid Dir, BenElg, Anthropology Department
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Anthropology Department


  • BA, Anthropology, University of Arizona
  • MS, Anthropology, University of Utah
  • PhD Student, Anthropology, University of Utah


I am a Postdoctroal Research Associate in the Anthropology Department. My current research focuses on how human economic decisions contribute to ecological disturbance regimes. Most of my work focuses on this process in the prehistory of the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau and employs archaeological and paleoecological data.

I am also interested in developing curricula that utilize research as a teaching tool. I am always on the lookout for new science outreach opportunities. I am currently working on developing such opportunities at the Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa, a field station operated by the University of Utah near Moab.

Before starting my PhD, I earned an MS in Anthropology at UU in 2014 and a BA in Anthropology at University of Arizona, Tucson in 2004. I spent the intervening years mostly working for the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management. Issues in public land management heavily inform my research interests.

Current Research

Interests: Archaeology, paleoecology, ethnoarchaeology, palynology, Behavioral Ecology, ecological disturbance, anthropogenic fire, science outreach and education.


Firewood Harvesting and Traditional Livelihoods

The collection and use of biomass fuels is part of humaity's global ecological legacy. Today, a third of the world's population still relies of this fuel source for daily energy needs. This project examines the specific cultural, economic, and ecological relationships between traditional firewood collectors and nearby woodlands in the four-corners region.


This research is part of CNH-L: Dynamic Impacts of Environmental Change and Biomass Harvesting on Woodland Ecosystems and Traditional Livelihoods.



Intermountain Foraging Strategies

The Intermountain West was occupied by speakers of Numic languages who lived small sociopolitical groups called bands. These populations thrived by adopting a unique strategy that included intensive pine nut processing, private property, and the management of resources with fire.

For more, see Magargal et al. (2017) The ecology of population dispersal: Modeling alternative basin-plateau foraging strategies to explain the Numic expansionAmerican Journal of Human Biology. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.23000.