About me

Christina Warinner, Ph.D., is director of the Laboratories of Molecular Anthropology and Microbiome Research (LMAMR) and an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma, which she joined in 2014. She also holds the title of Presidential Research Professor and is an adjunct professor of Periodontics at the University of Oklahoma’s College of Dentistry. She earned her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2010, and received her postdoctoral training at the University of Zurich, Switzerland (2010-2012) and the University of Oklahoma (2012-2014).

Dr. Warinner has pioneered the investigation of dental calculus using high-throughput metagenomics and metaproteomics approaches, and she published the first high-resolution biomolecular characterization of the ancient oral microbiome in Nature Genetics (February 2014). Recently, she has developed a novel metaproteomics technique using tandem mass spectrometry to identify the dietary proteins, such as the milk protei β-lactoglobulin (BLG), in modern and ancient human dental calculus (Scientific Reports, November 2014). Her current research focuses on examining major transitions in human diet and oral microbial ecology.

Her research has been featured in Science, Cell, Nature Genetics, Nature Reviews Microbiology, the Los Angeles Times, and the New Scientist, and Discover Magazine included her research in its top 100 stories of 2014. She is a 2014 Kavli Foundation Fellow (US National Academy of Sciences) and a 2012 TED Fellow, and she has given numerous invited lectures, including before the Royal Society of London and on behalf of the Leakey Foundation. She is committed to public education and engagement, and 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. 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.

Teaching and Training

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 I am currently developing a course on the Anthropology of Microbes. In addition to supervising my own Ph.D. and Master’s students, I also 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.