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Department of Anthropology
5 The Green
Medford, MA 02155
Associate Professor Emeritus
Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Michigan
Biological and nutritional anthropology; growth and body composition; methodology; Latin America, China, Southwest US
Scholarship & Research
My research interests center on how the growth of children in stressful environments is mediated by their genetic background. Much of my work has taken place at high altitude. Over 140 million people live above 8,000 feet worldwide; children typically grow and mature more slowly because of the multiple environmental stresses. Since 1995, I have worked in Tibet and western Sichuan to elucidate differences among children of five nationalities in their bodies' ability to adjust to chronic hypoxia, or lack of tissue oxygen. My most recent analyses focus on how these children's differing body proportions represent adaptive tradeoffs at the cellular level between lacks of oxygen and calories. These tradeoffs, in turn, bear on future health outcomes. Out of this, we have developed a simple clinical marker to identify at risk children.
Recently, I have begun to develop a project in Hawaii with the Univ. of Hawaii, Hilo, that would address remarkably high risks of obesity and Type II Diabetes in children of Pacific Basin ancestry. We would isolate both independent and interactive contributions of genes, class, activity patterns, food habits, and psychological stress in shaping that risk.
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