About me

Dr. Christina Warinner earned her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2010, and received her postdoctoral training at the University of Zurich (2010-2012) and the University of Oklahoma (2012-2014). In 2014, she became a Presidential Research Professor and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma, where she co-founded the Laboratories for Molecular Anthropology and Microbiome Research. Since 2016 she is a W2 Professor in Microbiome Sciences at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany.

Dr. Warinner is pioneering the study of ancient human microbiota, and in 2014 she published the first detailed metagenomic and metaproteomic characterization of the ancient human oral microbiome. In 2015, she published a seminal study on the identification of milk proteins in ancient dental calculus and the reconstruction of prehistoric European dairying practices. In the same year, she also was part of a large team that the published the first South American hunter-gatherer gut microbiome and identified Treponema as a key missing ancestral microbe in industrialized societies.

She has published two books and numerous peer-reviewed journal articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Nature Genetics, PNAS, Current Biology and Nature Communications, and she serves on the Editorial Board of Scientific Reports. Her research has earned her Honorable Mention for the Omenn Prize, an annual prize for best article published on evolution, medicine and public health, and her ancient microbiome findings were named among the top 100 scientific discoveries of 2014 by Discover Magazine.

Her research has been featured in more than 75 news articles, including stories in ScienceCellNature GeneticsNature Reviews Microbiologythe Los Angeles Times, the New Scientist, Scientific American, Archaeology Magazine, the Guardian, El Pais, WIRED UK, and CNN, among others. She has presented before the Royal Society of London (2013) and on behalf of the Leakey Foundation (2013, 2016), and in 2015 she was an invited participant at the White House Microbiome Innovation Forum sponsored by the US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). She has been featured in two documentaries produced by the genome sequencing company Illumina, and her current work on ancient Nepal appears in the award-winning children’s book, Secrets of the Sky Caves. She is a US National Academy of Sciences Kavli Fellow (2014) and a 2012 TED Fellow. Her TED Talks on ancient dental calculus and the evolution of the human diet have been viewed more than 1,000,000 times.


Research Interests

I am interested in evolutionary medicine and how understanding the ways in which humans have co-evolved with environments, diets, and pathogens allows us to better understand health and disease. My research draws on the methods and theoretical frameworks of several fields, including: molecular biology, archaeology, archaeogenetics (ancient DNA), stable isotope-based paleodietary and paleomigratory analysis, archaeobotany, and zooarchaeology. Links to open-access PDFs of my publications can be found on my Academia.edu and ResearchGate profiles.

Current Research

I came to the University of Oklahoma in September of 2012 after finishing a two-year postdoc in the Molecular Research Group of the Centre for Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich, and I now co-direct the Laboratory for Molecular Anthropology and Microbiome Research (LMAMR) with Dr. Cecil M. Lewis Jr. I am currently working on several projects, including the evolution of the human oral microbiome and the origins and spread of dairying. I am involved in a number of archaeogenetic projects in Asia, as well as a project aimed at evaluating genetic health risk factors in a German medieval population. I have a strong interest in ancient human diet and nutrition, and I recently developed a new paleoethnobotanical reference collection website called Paleobot.org with fellow collaborators Jade d’Alpoim Guedes and David Goode. I am a collaborator on several stable isotope and archaeogenetic botanical studies, and I recently published an edited volume on archaeobotany with John Mac Marston and Jade d’Alpoim Guedes.

Media and Popular Press

I am committed to public education and have been interviewed for several scientific and popular publications and documentaries. My research has been featured in Scientific American, Discover MagazineWired UK, the UK ObserverCNN.com, and Fox News, and as a 2012 TED Fellow I presented my research at the 2012 TED Talks in Long Beach, California and at the 2013 TEDxOU Talks in Norman, Oklahoma. My research has been featured in several short documentaries, including Archaeology of the Invisible (Illumina), Ancestral Microbiomes (Illumina), and a film played at the 2011-2012 UZH Mummy Exhibition. Click here to learn more.

Teaching and Training

I am committed to quality undergraduate and graduate education. I have taught courses on the Anthropology of Microbes and on the Anthropology of Human Diet and Nutrition at the University of Oklahoma, and as a PhD student I designed laboratory curricula for life sciences and archaeology courses at Harvard University. In addition to supervising my own Ph.D. and Master’s students, I also provide training opportunities for visiting students and faculty in my laboratory. To date, I have hosted visitors from the UK, the Netherlands, Mexico, and the US.  Previously, I served as a Resident Tutor (academic advisor) at Harvard College from 2005-2008. I also served as the laboratory manager for the Harvard Archaeology Multi-User Laboratory from 2008-2009, and continued to be involved with laboratory training of graduate students in archaeology through 2010. At the University of Zurich, I assisted with introductory histology classes for medical school students, and I gave guest lectures on ancient DNA at the University of Zurich and the University of Basel in Switzerland.