Cooke named interim head of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures

Bill Cooke

A veteran administrator at Mississippi State University has been appointed to serve as the interim department head for the university’s Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures (AMEC).

Bill Cooke comes to AMEC with five years of department head experience and has more than 26 years of experience in remote sensing and GIS research at MSU. He obtained his Ph.D. in forestry in 1997 from MSU. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at MSU in 1978 and 1991, respectively.

“I am humbled, honored, and very excited to serve as interim department head for the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures. Our AMEC faculty are world-renown researchers and highly-motivated teachers that offer undergraduate and graduate students an incredible opportunity to learn about human biology and culture,” Cooke said.

"Bill is no stranger to academic leadership in our college, having served for five years as the head of geosciences. While in geosciences, Bill's commitment to his department, his sage decision-making, and his ability to manage people in a positive fashion were all instrumental in helping the department to flourish, Dean of Arts and Sciences Rick Travis said.

“On occasion, big problems and perfect solutions align. When the faculty in AMEC found out that Mike Galaty was stepping down as head, more than one of them contacted me to ask if Dr. Cooke might be available to fill in as the interim head. I was ahead of them by a few days and had already inquired. His acceptance of this role means that the faculty in the department can focus on their scholarship and teaching knowing that they are in safe hands,” Travis said.

AMEC is committed to holistic research concerning past and present human artifactual, biological, cultural, and historical diversity and to the training of students in anthropology and Middle Eastern studies. The department’s overriding goal is to assess, develop, and apply anthropological method and theory in ways that acknowledge and engage an ever-changing world.

“My simple goal for this next academic year is to work daily to facilitate the success of our AMEC faculty in pursuit of excellence in education and in pursuit of research opportunities,” Cooke said.

Cooke has been published in over 30 peer-reviewed journals and has been invited to present at conferences across the nation. He says he was honored to have been invited to speak at the 2012 National Hurricane Conference in Orlando, Florida, where he presented a paper titled "Tools for Rapid Prediction of Hurricane Damage Probability and Debris Generation."

He has also published and presented on various remote sensing and GIS modeling efforts including landscape risk assessment and human exposure potential for vector-borne diseases, as well as wildfire fuel potential. Cooke has engaged in research targeted towards ecological and economic impacts of wildfires in the Southeastern U.S.

The College of Arts and Sciences is the largest college at MSU and is home to 14 departments. With more than 5000 students and 300 faculty members, the college offers students 25 academic programs.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Sarah Nicholas | College of Arts and Sciences

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