I am an anthropologist and human biologist who uses evolutionary theory to better understand variation in human physiology, health, and behavior. I am particularly interested in how humans have evolved to manage energetic resources across the life course and the impact of economic development on child growth, immune function, and metabolic health (e.g., obesity, inflammation, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes). My long-term field and laboratory research is performed with subsistence-based populations in Ecuador, Papua New Guinea, and Mexico. My work addresses fundamental topics in anthropology and evolutionary biology but also strives to improve the lives of the people that participate in my research.
I received my Ph.D. in Human Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University (with Peter Ellison) in 2016. I am currently a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University (with Herman Pontzer), working on an NSF-funded postdoctoral research project titled, Tradeoffs in childhood energy allocation and the impact of market integration on ontogeny and health (PI, #SMA1606852).
My research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the LSB Leakey Foundation, the Czech Science Foundation, and others. It has been featured by a number of media outlets, including The Scientist magazine, Discover magazine, and Science Daily. I have discussed the implications of my work for improving child health at the United Nations headquarters and elsewhere. Please contact me with public outreach opportunities.
Follow me on Twitter @SSUrlacher