B.A., Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, 1984; M.A., Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, 1987; Ph.D., University of Missouri-Columbia, 1999
Area(s) of Specialization:
Biological anthropology, human evolution (Upper Paleolithic/Ice Age), skeletal robusticity and physical activity
I am a biological anthropologist interested in human evolution, and in the ways humans adapt, biologically and culturally, to their environment. I am passionate about all things relating to the last Ice Age and have published on the behavior and lives of modern humans and Neandertals during that fascinating time period. One of my research interests has been on the relationship between physical activity and postcranial skeletal robusticity as a means of inferring behavior in past populations. Some of my research has focused on the link between lower limb bone strength and long distance mobility in Upper Paleolithic populations from Europe. More recently, I have, along with colleagues in the US and Europe collected postcranial robusticity data on over 2000 human skeletons from Upper Paleolithic to the present. This data allowed has revealed how changes in physical activity across major socio-economic transitions such as hunter-gathering to agriculture, the rise of social inequalities and the Industrial Revolution has affected limb robusticity patterns in men and women.
I am very excited about two current projects. One aims to link bone robusticity patterns with observed physical activity in a living population (a group of horticulturalists in Bolivia called the Tsimane). This project will provide funding and opportunities for independent research for several graduate students. A second project, currently on going, aims to reconstruct the lives of people in a Medieval coastal town in Italy (11th-14th centuries). A large human skeletal collection from one of the town’s cemetery is housed in my lab. I currently have six students working on this exciting material. I encourage any student interested in working on the collection, either for experience working with human remains, or for undergraduate and graduate research projects, to contact me. There is plenty of work to do!