About me

I am an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Presidental Research Professor at the University of Oklahoma and a Research Affiliate of the Molecular Research Group at the University of Zurich’s Institute of Evolutionary Medicine. I received my Ph.D. from the Anthropology Department at Harvard University in 2010. I am currently working on multiple projects involving archaeogenetic and paleoproteomic research. I was recently named a 2014 Kavli Foundation Fellow and a 2012 TED Fellow, and my research has been featured in Wired UK, the UK Observer, the LA Times, CNN.com, and the New Scientist.

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. I currently co-direct the Laboratory for Molecular Anthropology and Microbiome Research (LMAMR) with Dr. Cecil M. Lewis Jr. at the University of Oklahoma.  I am currently working on several projects, including the investigation of human oral microbiome in preservation in ancient dental calculus. I am involved in a number of medically-oriented 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 am currently co-editing a book 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 Wired 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. A short documentary film about my research on the Iranian Salt Mummies played at the 2011-2012 UZH Mummy Exhibition. Click here to learn more.

Other Interests

I am committed to quality undergraduate and graduate education. I teach a course on the Anthropology of Human Diet and Nutrition at the University of Oklahoma, and provide training opportunities for visiting students in my laboratory. Previously, I served as a Tutor (academic advisor) at Harvard College from 2005-2010. 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 several guest lectures on ancient DNA at the University of Zurich and the University of Basel in Switzerland.