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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, 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 436: Human Evolution

This class focuses on the fossil evidence for human evolution as well as the implications of our evolution for understanding the adaptations of modern humans. The origin of the primates, including humans, will be covered in detail. Students will learn about the nature and timing of some of the developments that led from our distant, rodent-like ancestors to humans as we are today, and some of the evolutionary theories that have been proposed to explain these changes. The adaptive significance of important changes in the relationship between members of our lineage is also stressed. This course will mix lecture, laboratories with fossil casts and discussions.

ANTH 392: Evolution of 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 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. The final section of the course addresses contemporary human biological diversity and human behavioral ecology.

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.