The Department of Anthropology has a strong research profile and has historically been a leader in SBS for sponsored research. Read on to learn about some of the grants our faculty and graduate students have been awarded, and the amazing research each supports.
Professor Brigitte Holt, Bone Strength and Physical Activity Over the Life Course, National Science Foundation ($788,000, exp. 6/30/2022)
Holt's grant builds on previous research in biological anthropology that has shown a positive relationship between physical activity and bone mass. Data from modern human groups with very high activity levels and pathogen loads have been limited-this project will study bone mass in such a modern human population and examine the relationship between bone mass, population history, energetics, and physical activity across the lifespan. Holt's research will advance our understanding of modern human skeletal evolution and adaptation, as well as the skeletal impacts of the sedentary lifestyle of many industrialized societies, including the U.S. It will also provide training opportunities for graduate ad undergraduate students, support international research collaborations and public science outreach activities and contribute bone-related data to a larger ethnographic and biological database for a non-industrialized population.
Professor Lynnette Sievert, Brown Adipose Tissue: Biological Variation and Senescence in Humans, National Science Foundation ($230,000, exp. 5/31/2022)
Sievert's grant focuses on the study of hot flashes relating to menopause. Her research has kept her busy estimating brown adipose tissue activity (see thermal images before and after cooling protocol) and was featured in a recent Smithsonian Magazine article. "How Much Did Grandmothers Influence Human Evolution?" Her findings on menopause challenge the popular Grandmother Hypothesis, supporting the idea that grandmothers played an important role in the survival and success of their supporting idea that grandmothers played an important role in the survival and success of their grandchildren because of their post-reproductive life. Read the full article at: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-much-did-grandmothers-influence-human-evolution-180976665/
Emerita Professor Laurie Godfrey, Human and Non-Human Influences on Species Biodiversity in an Island Ecosystem, National Science Foundation ($207,000, exp. 2/28/2023)
Godfrey has published an online blog about her experience with the project studying recently discovered fossils from flooded caves in Madagascar's Tsimanampetsotse National Park. She worked with a large, international, interdisciplinary team of researchers who found that Madagascar's megafauna survived a major, 700-year drought and only began disappearing after the arrival of farmers and herders. Her hope is that understanding how biodiversity changed over the past several millennia will help to preserve the species that remain today. Read the blog at: https://beta.nsf.gov/science-matters/fossils-flooded-caves-madagascar-offer-new-perspective-regions-history
Professor Krista Harper, Co-PI, ELevating Equity VAlues in the Transition of the Energy System (ELEVATE), National Science Foundation ($6.3 million, awarded Oct. 2020)
Harper was amongst a team awarded $6.3 million from the NSF to pursue research on renewable energy systems, social equity, and climate change resiliency (October 2020). The project called ELevating Equity VAlues in the Transition of the Energy System (ELEVATE(, involves scholars from UMass Engineering, Natural Sciences, Computer Science, and Social and Behavioral Sciences who will collaborate to study the intersections of electricity technology, energy economics, and policy, climate science, and social equity. Harper's specialties in qualitative and community-based participatory research methods will be particularly valuable in understanding the human dimensions of electricity, including "how people make sense of changing environmental conditions, social inequalities, and technological systems". The program will also provide many paid fellowship opportunities for graduate students interested in energy and climate justice. Read more at: https://www.umass.edu/anthro/news/faculty/krista-harper-among-researchers-awarded-63m-nsf-funding-study-energy-transition
Graduate Student Amanda Fuchs, The Effects of Food and Water on Kinda Baboon Movement Ecology and Gut Microbiome Diversity, National Science Foundation, and Leakey Foundation ($33,000 combined total, exp. 4/30/2023, PI Jason Kamilar)
Graduate Student Alum Andrew Best, Evolution and diversity of human eccrine sweat glands, The Leakey Foundation ($15,000, exp. 12/31/2022, PI Jason Kamilar)
Best's research is testing whether the observed variation in sweat gland density actually affects how well we cool. This research informs essential questions about the evolution of the human lineage directly connected to the evolution of big brains, walking and running, and the origin of our genus. Building on work done in the 1960s and 1970s by a handful of researchers, and with input from his advisor Jason Kamilar, he devised an innovative research methodology to measure sweat production. Another phase of his project involves measuring heat production and heat dissipation in athletes cycling in a hot metabolic chamber in the UMass Human Testing Center.
2018-2019 Grant Awards
Laurie Godfrey, Human and Non-Human Influences on Species Biodiversity in an Island Ecosystem ($97,900). National Science Foundation.
Krista Harper PI, and Jacqueline Urla, Co-PI. National Science Foundation Grant # IIA-1261172. “Cultural Heritage in European Societies and Spaces (CHESS). $249,000.
Krista Harper, PI. National Science Foundation Dissertation Research Improvement Grant.
Dana Conzo Co-PI. The Cultural and Economic Logic of Small-Scale Farming. (expired)
Jacqueline Urla, PI. National Science Foundation Dissertation Research Improvement Grant. Award Number: NSF: 1823645. Ana del Conde, Co-PI. “Security Policies and Indigenous Women in Rural Mexico: An Ethnographic Study of Local Security.” $24,423 (expired)
Jacqueline Urla, and Emiliana Cruz, PI, Vanessa Miranda-Juarez, Co-PI. Nahuatl Discourses and Political Speeches, Hidalgo, Mexico. NSF DEL-DDRG. ( $19,308) (expired)
Brigitte Holt, Bone Strength and Physical Activity Over the Life Course. National Science Foundation. ($369,423).
Jason Kamilar, Understanding Temporal Variation in Primate Communities: Integrating Data from Extant and Fossil Species. National Science Foundation.
Lynette Sievert, Brown Adipose Tissue: Biological Variation and Senescence in Humans ($230,678). National Science Foundation. $230,000.
Andrew Best, Evolution and diversity of human eccrine sweat glands The Leakey Foundation. $14,999
Andrew Zamora, Socio-genomic evolution of Sifakas (Propithecus). The Leakey Foundation. $14,4994. (expired)
Erica Kowsz. NSF GRFP Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW) in partnership with the Norwegian Research Council. ($39,706) (expired)