Research Interests

The drama of becoming human is a page turner, full of surprises and cliff hangers.  Beyond the sheer joy of self-knowledge, I study the nature of the process that produced us because it shapes my understanding of human biology and behavior.  Evolutionary biology is relevant and essential because there are many concrete practical applications where evolutionary baggage and ongoing evolutionary processes influence human biology, behavior, health and disease.

 I am interested in understanding how humans, hominins, and primates respond to stress, i.e. molecular, environmental, or social stimuli.  Plasticity is the ability of one genotype to produce more than one phenotype.   Phenotypic plasticity can help some taxa thrive in variable environments.  Understanding how plasticity shapes within species variation can aid attempts to sort fossils into species and discern the relationships among those species.  The underlying biological mechanism supporting plasticity itself can be the target of selection and consequently the source of phenotypic novelty.  I want to understand the ways in which evolutionary forces can interact with plasticity at different biological levels (on traits, on relationships between traits, and on relationships between traits and the physical or social environment).  My research incorporates population biology (epidemiology), comparative anatomy, molecular biology, and genetic methods.