I am an anthropologist and human evolutionary biologist with a multidisciplinary research program. My lab's primary aim is to define the evolved energetic pathways that drive variation in human development, metabolism, and health. We are particularly interested in how children adaptively allocate calories to competing physiological tasks (e.g., immune activity, brain development, body growth, digestion, physical activity), and how and why such patterns vary across contexts. Using a life history approach, this work ultimately focuses on the way in which early adverse environments and economic development “get under the skin” to generate lifetime variation in phenotype and disparities in metabolic health (e.g., obesity, type 2 diabetes, chronic stress and inflammation).
The Human Evolutionary Biology and Health Lab that I direct in the Department of Anthropology at Baylor University specializes in the measurement of human energy expenditure (via doubly labeled water stable isotope tracking) and physiological biomarkers and hormones. My long-term field research is performed collaboratively with Indigenous populations in Ecuador and Papua New Guinea. This work addresses fundamental topics in anthropology and biology, but it also strives to reduce health disparities and to improve the lives of the amazing people that participate in my research.
My research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Leakey Foundation, the Czech Science Foundation, and others. It has been featured by several media outlets, including The New York Times, Good Morning America, Healthline, El País, The Chicago Tribune, and The Scientist magazine. I am currently a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar in the Child and Brain Development Program.
See my department profile. Follow me on Twitter @SSUrlacher. Listen to me on recent Sausage of Science or Brains On podcasts. Come chat in person as part of the Mayborn Museum Portal to the Public Network.
Please contact me with education and public outreach opportunities!