Graduate Students





Dr. Seamus Decker


... The second ongoing thread is ethnographic field-based research in the Caribbean island nation of Dominica in collaboration with Dr. Mark Flinn and his colleagues who have for more than a decade conducted longitudinal studies of family process, stress and health in a remote rural village. I completed my Masters degree training with a field-based project in Dominica many years ago under the supervision of Dr. Flinn, so my “pilot” trip to Dominica in 2007 was a bit of a homecoming for me; I hope to leverage this pilot research to procure significant external funding (e.g., NSF) to conduct further research in collaboration with Dr. Flinn and his crew. The present focus of this work is on the long-term life-time effects of early life developmental experiences, such as parent-child relationships or “parental bonding,” on risks related to reward-seeking behaviors (substance use, obesity, and related disease). My most recent papers and manuscripts from this work focus on the effects of controlling or intrusive parenting style on adult risk for alcoholism as well as the relationship of reward-seeking personality dimensions to activity levels and body composition (measured with anthropometrics and bio-electric impedance).

I am convinced of the value-added from an integration of experimental or lab-based social biological research methods and field-based ethnographic or “naturalistic” methods, and as my research evolves I hope that these two distinct approaches will produce synergy and provide deeper insights into the topics of interest. It is my hope that findings from laboratory work will provide a basis to develop future studies that will “take lab-methods into the field” and explore new ways to investigate the influence of sociocultural contextual factors (e.g., ethnicity or race, economic status, family process), and life-history processes by guiding efforts to in Dominica.

I presently have one graduate student who is working on her Masters degree, and two undergraduate research assistants who assist me with experimental work in the PAHA lab. I hope in future to provide opportunities for additional students (both graduate and undergraduate) to gain research experience working either in my laboratory or field-based research.

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Contact Information:
Department of Anthropology
240 Hicks Way

Machmer Hall W-12, W14, W16
(W-16) 413-545-380