Biological Anthropology

The department offers training in primate and human anatomy and evolution, primate behavior and ecology, human variation and ecology, nutritional anthropology and human and non-human primate growth and development; developmental, reproductive, and behavioral endocrinology and lactation biology. Faculty research interests include the following: primate health and disease ecology, general ecology, and conservation biology (with research sites in Madagascar and Vietnam); primate evolution (with research sites in Wyoming and Vietnam); early hominid paleoecology (with study areas throughout Africa); human reproductive and nutritional ecology (with research sites in Colombia and Brazil); development of preventative and therapeutic strategies aimed at eliminating enteropathy and growth failure among women in rural Gambian villages; and biogeochemical techniques for studying the diets and habitats of modern and fossil fauna. Please note that we do not train students specifically in forensics.

Additionally, the biological faculty have interests and research strengths that cross sub-disciplinary boundaries and foster collaboration with faculty and graduate students in both archaeology and cultural anthropology. For example, we share an interest in human ecology, the broad integrative area of anthropology that focuses on the interactions of culture, biology and the environment. We also share an interest in the processes of globalization, which are rapidly changing many aspects of the modern world. As biological anthropologists, we are well positioned to analyze the impact of globalization on the interaction between biology and behavior, including changes in fertility and mortality rates, nutritional status and disease prevalence. We are also well positioned to analyze human and primate adaptations to changing environments and declining biodiversity.

Biological Faculty

  • Robin Bernstein - Growth and development; endocrinology; maternal-infant physiology; life history evolution; lactation biology and breastfeeding
  • Herbert Covert - Conservation and ecology of Southeast Asian colobines; biology of the earliest primates of North America, Europe, North Africa
  • Darna Dufour - Biological & behavioral responses of human populations to nutritional problems    
  • Michelle Sauther - Primate biology and ecology. Primate evolutionary biology, growth and development, life history, bio-behavioral responses to anthropogenic change.         
  • Matt Sponheimer - Ecology of early human ancestors in Africa