Undergraduate Courses

Anth 103: Introduction to Biological Anthropology, Spring 2015

This course will focus on the study of human origins and the human experience from a bioanthropological perspective. Course readings, lectures, and videos will emphasize the fossil, genetic, isotopic, and archaeological evidence on the evolution of humankind.

Anth 273: Human Evolutionary Genetics, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

The aim of this course is to explore how genetic data can be applied to address core issues in human evolution and population genetics. While learning these topics, you will also develop your analytical and critical thinking skills through reading, interpreting, and critiquing the most recent and important studies and topics in the field of anthropological genetics. The course will cover the reconstruction of population history using evidence from studies of contemporary and ancient DNA. We will explore sources of human genetic diversity, including mutation, migration, drift, gene flow, and selection. Through critical evaluation of the latest publications in genetic anthropology, we will discuss the molecular evidence for the origin of modern humans, race, reconstruction of key human migrations, and methods for detection of genetic admixture between populations. The final unit of the course will focus on the role of the environment in shaping human biological diversity and implications for human disease, including examples of gene-environment interactions and epigenetics.

ANBI 130/Anth 242: Biology of Inequality, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015

The aim of this course is to explore the biological consequences of racial and social inequalities. Through readings and discussions, this course will discuss the role of psychosocial stress resulting from discrimination, racism, poverty, neighborhood violence, among other stressors, in affecting the health of minority populations and across different strata of socioeconomic status. Students will learn about the psychological, behavioral, and psychosocial pathways through which these societal factors may lead to biological changes that impact health. Students will learn ways to measure the health impact of these sociocultural and environmental factors, through studies that test their associations with disease and precursors to disease, including measures of molecular biology (e.g. epigenetics, gene expression, telomeres), and biomarkers of inflammation, cardiometabolic health, and immune function. We will also discuss the health impact of these exposures throughout different periods of the life course, with a focus on the theory of developmental origins of health and disease. Finally, we will discuss some policy implications of these findings.

 Anth 272 Genetic Anthropology Lab Techniques, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

The aim of this course is to provide hands-on experience with the latest molecular techniques as applied to questions of anthropological and human genetic interest. Students will isolate their own DNA from hair and buccal samples and generate DNA sequence data using an automated DNA analysis system. They will also measure the percent of DNA methylation at certain regions of their own genomes. Data will be analyzed using current computer software packages that are widely available. The course will also include some discussion of measurement and analysis of other non-genetic biomarkers that can be incorporated into anthropological research of living populations, e.g. cortisol measures. The class will culminate in the production of a 4-5 page research paper summarizing lab results generated in the course, in the format of a publishable scientific manuscript.

ANBI 131/Anth 241: Biology and Culture of Race, Spring 2014, Winter 2016

This course examines conceptions of race from both evolutionary and socio-cultural perspectives. We will examine current patterns of human genetic variation and critically examine how these patterns map onto current conceptions of race. The second part of the course will focus on the history of the race concept and the social construction of race, and the experiences and consequences of racism and discrimination on health in the US and internationally. The final part of the course explores the ways in which biomedical researchers and physicians use racial categories today.

Middle School Outreach

I have also taught 7th Grade Life Sciences through the NSF GK-12 Program, SPICE. For links to downloadable lesson plans for teaching concepts of natural selection and heritability, among other 7th grade biology topics, see my module on the SPICE homepage.