I am a biologist/bioanthropologist interested in human adaptation. My particular focus is on the human sense of smell–its evolutionary biology and genetics within the ecological and cultural context. I also explore human adaptation in the paleobiological record via developmental stability and archaeological evidence for fragile cultural systems.
My human olfaction research is framed by theory evolutionary theory and sensory ecology and uses a multi-disciplinary set of tools that range from population genetics to behavior. As humans, we engage with the environment directly via our senses, which are refined by evolution through behavioral interactions with ecological settings. Through these interactions, sensory filters evolve to differentiate species’ perceptual worlds; through this unwelt, we obtain information about food, mates, social interactions, and danger. I am particularly interested in olfaction as a mechanism for obtaining this information. My work explores how olfaction functions in humans from both modern and evolutionary perspectives. I aim to disrupt the commonly accepted notion that our sense of smell is not useful and demonstrating how we use it to adapt to different environments. See specific project pages for more details.
I received my BA from Flagler College in St. Augustine Florida, two MAs from Florida State University, and my PhD from Southern Illinois. I have been a Visiting Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and a Research Fellow at Durham University, Newcastle University and Nishi Kyushu University. I serve as a PeerJ Editor in Environmental Sciences, previously served on two NSF panels in SBE, and have received funding for my work from NIH EPScoR, National Science Foundation, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and the British Academy.
Labs: Molecular Anthropology Lab is equipped with an Idaho Technologies Lightscanner 32, Eppendorf Silver EP Thermalcylcer, fumehood, UV filtered PCR hood, chemical storage facilities, -20C freezer, two thermomixes, Accuspin 17 centrifuge, mini-centrifuge balance, vortex, vertical and horiztonal electrophoresis boxes, water access (for preparation of organic material), emergency shower, a large number of disposables, DNA kits, PC, and printer.
The Ancient DNA dry lab space is used to prepare animals and bone/teeth specimens for ancient DNA analysis and extract DNA. This facility is PCR free with separate powder safe biosafety cabinets for animals and humans.