About Me

I am a biological anthropologist, and the director of the SMU Molecular Anthropology Laboratories. Biological anthropology is the discipline that seeks to understand and explain biocultural variation in primates generally, and humans in particular, across both time and space. Crucial to the discipline is the rejection of any perception that nature and nurture, that biology and culture, can be considered dichotomous. Within biological anthropology, I specialize in molecular anthropology and use modern laboratory techniques to address classic anthropological questions. The lab embraces anthropology’s long tradition of scavenging for insight across other disciplines and thus employs theoretical and methodological approaches from across the social and life sciences. Members of the SMU Molecular Anthropology Laboratories are currently working in two major areas: 1) understanding the prehistoric transition to food production in southern Africa as foragers, pastoralists and farmers came to occupy the same landscape employing analyses of both ancient and modern DNA and 2) formulating biocultural models of health and disease, in particular interrogating the role of stress in well-being, using a range of ethnographic methods and laboratory assays of endocrinological biomarkers and epigenetic marking.