Ph.D., Penn State University
How did humans become humans? (The same for chimpanzees, dogs, etc.) And how does evolution work? These are the questions that drive my research and educational endeavors.
As part of an international team, I perform paleoanthropological fieldwork on Rusinga and Mfangano Islands in Western Kenya. Fossils from these sites represent plants and animals that lived in the early Miocene epoch (dating to about 20-18 million years ago), some of which, like the primate Proconsul, are good candidates for some of the earliest apes. Without the origin of apes, chimpanzees and humans would not have occurred. This work is not only geared toward finding more specimens of Proconsul and other primates, but we are also reconstructing the paleoenvironments in which these primates lived and evolved.
Living apes, not just fossils, also offer a glimpse of evolution. So along with another team of collaborators, I study energy use in apes and other mammals. Mammals process energy differently from one another and these differences may reflect different evolutionary selection pressures both internally within the organism and externally from the environment. Energetic use in humans is fairly well understood but it's only through comparison with other species that we can understand human energetics from an evolutionary perspective. Likewise, human data are necessary for understanding the energetic use of the chimpanzees and gorillas that we have studied. I am particularly interested in the energetics and metabolic parameters of pregnancy, fetal growth, infant growth, and lactation and how those determine the timing of birth in humans and other mammals.
I teach courses in biological anthropology which include Human Origins (APG 201), Human Variation (APG 350), and The Human Fossil Record (APG 300).
Anthropology Honor Society
URI Anthropology students have been chartered as the Alpha Rhode Island Chapter of Lamda Alpha, the national anthropology honor society. This is a tribute to the hard work of several students and to the academic excellence of our majors and our faculty. Right now, the recruitment of charter members is underway. If you're interested in being one of the first Lamda Alphas, shoot off an email to Ashley Waggoner for all the details.
The URI Anthropology Society is also up and running. Check out their page too.
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