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STEM Scholars Lecture Series springs forth


Professor Samantha Hens’ STEM lecture focuses on the health of ancient Romans.

Samantha Hens, professor of anthropology at Sacramento State, delivered the first presentation of the spring Sacramento State STEM Scholars Lecture Series at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 22, in the University Union, Redwood Room.

Her presentation, “About Face: Using symmetry to measure the health of ancient Romans," explored fluctuating asymmetry as an indicator of developmental stress in Imperial Roman populations.

The concept of symmetry, which has many applications in biology, is considered an important indicator of good health and survival prospects in animals, including humans. It’s also believed to be a measure of an individual's genetic quality.

People with symmetric faces are generally considered more attractive, and may have a better chance of success in attracting mates and reproducing, allowing for the survival of their genes.

Conversely, severe asymmetry may indicate underlying genetic problems, or that the individual suffered from ill health that affected facial development - suggesting to potential mates that they should look elsewhere. Similarly, it appears that levels of symmetry in an entire population can predict the survival prospects for the group.

Hens joined the Anthropology faculty at Sacramento State in 2000. Her extensive research has focused recently on three-dimensional analyses of growth and development in past human populations, particularly the individuals from Ancient Rome. She was awarded the College Of Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Studies Outstanding Teaching Award in 2006.

For information concerning the STEM Scholars Lecture Series, visit, or call (916) 278-2789.