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Teaching Overview

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Purdue University, where I won the 2016 "Excellence in Teaching Award." I teach several courses in Biological Anthropology; some of their descriptions are provided below.

ANTH 535: Foundations of Biological Anthropology (Graduate)

Students will gain an advanced overview of the seminal research and perspectives that have shaped the discipline of Biological Anthropology. Topics include: History of Biological Anthropology, Evolutionary Theory and Genetics, Biological Bases of Human Behavior, Non-Human Primate Ecology and Evolution, Evolution of Humans, and Evolutionary Medicine. Students will gain advanced understanding of the breadth of research in biological anthropology through critical reading and discussion of peer reviewed literature, and have opportunities to teach and gain feedback on select topics.

ANTH 392: Pregnancy, Birth and Babies

The human reproductive strategy is characterized by subsidized reproduction, intensive and prolonged parental investment, and high fertility. This course will examine both biological universals and cross-cultural variation in pregnancy, birth, and infant development and care. The first part of the course includes an introduction to life history theory, the energetics of pregnancy, and the evolution of assisted birth in humans. Students will study the expectations and systems surrounding pregnancy and birth in a cross-cultural context. In the second part of the course, students will study the developmental biology of infants and neonates. This is followed by examination of cross-cultural variation in: infant care strategies, infant feeding and weaning, and infant health outcomes. Throughout the course students will discuss current controversies surrounding medical models of childbirth, breastfeeding, and co-sleeping.

ANTH 212: Culture, Food And Health

This course introduces the field of Nutritional Anthropology, including its method and theories and the roles of food and diet in shaping human health. Food is essential for human survival and is inherently biocultural: nutritional contents of foods consumed significantly impact human biology, while patterns of food procurement, processing and consumption are strongly influenced by sociocultural factors. Using an integrated biocultural approach, this course deciphers the connections of food and health around the globe. We explore the evolutionary history of human dietary patterns, nutrition across the life course, and nutritional factors in growth and development. We survey dietary practices and how food is used as medicine, using case studies from around the world. Through lecture and class discussion, students learn about the contributions of anthropological perspectives in solving global health dilemmas. For example, we assess some of the causes and consequences undernutrition and overnutrition and attempts to address these challenges at different academic and policy levels.

ANTH 204: Introduction to Biological Anthropology

What makes us human? Is it the use of language, the ability to manipulate material culture or the fact that we are bipedal? The purpose of this course is to explore and understand evolutionary theory in order to gain a better understanding of the past, the present and the future of the human species. The first part of this course introduces the foundations of evolutionary theory and natural selection. The second part of the course builds upon this theory while exploring the behavior and anatomy of non-human primates. The third section of the course explores the evolution of modern humans from our first primate ancestors. Hominin evolution is emphasized, particularly the transition to bipedal locomotion, the diversification of bipedal hominin species, rapid brain expansion in the genus Homo, and the emergence of anatomically modern humans.

ANTH 203: Biological Bases of Human Social Behavior

This course is an introduction to human social behavior from the perspective of biological anthropology, with special emphasis on human evolution and non-human primates. The human condition is characterized by immense biological and behavioral variation. The extent to which such variation is adaptive is topic a great importance and controversy. Current research in the field of human behavioral ecology reflects a growing interaction between the social and biological sciences. The objectives of this course are to critically examine the origin and development of this discipline, and to survey the physiological and behavioral ways that humans interact with their environment. Topics include cooperation, conflict, communication, learning, maturation, sexuality, parenting and the evolution of complex social systems.