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Research Interests

Paleoneurology

Thesis Advisor:
Dr. Dean Falk
 
Dissertation Committee:
 
Dr. Tim Gage
Dr. Gordon G. Gallup Jr.

 

The evolution of the hominin cerebellum

My dissertation research focused on the size and shape of the cerebellum as seen from endocranial casts (endocasts). I used traditional linear metric techniques along with geometric morphometric techniques to evaluate both size and shape change in the cerebellar region of extant primates and fossil hominins.

Results indicate that not only does the cerebellum increase in absolute size through hominin evolution but shape also changes with size. This may indicate a reorganization effect in the cerebellum as well as in the areas more traditionally associated with higher cognitive functions.

landmarks

White DD (2005) Size And Shape Of The Cerebellum In Catarrhine Primates And Plio-Pleistocene Fossil Hominins: A Paleoneurological Analysis Of Endocranial Casts pdf version (3.29MB)

 

Evolution and human behavior

Peer victimization from an evolutionary perspective

Since 2005, I have been collaborating with colleagues from the Psychology Department at the University at Albany and more recently the Department of Biological Sciences at Binghamton University on the evolutionary underpinnings of bullying and victimization in adolescence.

bully_slide

My colleages and I have attempted to look for the ultimate evolutionary root of this ubiquitous and cross-cultural behavior. We have recently contributed a paper to the journal "Evolution and Human Behavior" which looks specifically at bullying behavior, strength, and mating opportunities in college students.

My collaborator, Andrew Gallup, won the 2007 UAlbany President's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research for this paper. He is now working with Dr. David Sloan Wilson (Binghamton University) on an extension of this work.

Our November 2007 article in Evolution and Human Behavior has received attention from Pour la science (the official French version of Scientific American) and Science.

Principle Collaborators

Dr. Gordon G. Gallup Jr. and
Andrew C. Gallup

 

Evolutionary Anthropology in Costa Rica
Rey Curré Reservation

I have joined a group of colleagues from the Department of Anthropology at University at Albany, SUNY who have been working in southern Costa Rica on politics and ecology since the late 1980s. Most recently, a survey was conducted by my colleagues of the Rey Curre reservation that is the home territory of the Boruca (Brunka) people of southern Costa Rica. Data were gathered about politics, Boruca language, and health. My role in this group is to study the ecology of schools and how it relates to human behavior and body morphology. I have made two reconnaissance trips and hope to secure funding to do my own survey and anthropometry to help better understand this important and interesting group.

 

Las Mercedes, Guacimo, Costa Rica

The site of Las Mercedes is one of, if not the largest excavated archaeological sites containing monumental architecture in Costa Rica. The site archaeological site has been excavated by several teams since its scientific discovery in 1901. My colleagues Ricardo Vazquez Leiva (National Museum of Costa Rica) and Robert Rosenswig (University at Albany) recently completed a field season which further demonstrated the scope and and importance of the Las Mercedes sight. I am hoping to get back to Costa Rica in 2009 to collaborate with Mr. Vazquez on a project that uses social neurocognition research to make predictions about past behavior and artifact types.

 

Talamanca 2009

In 2009 my colleagues and I from the University at Albany did some reconnaissance in southeastern Costa Rica in a small village called Amubri. We hope to conduct research in this area in the next year.

Dr. Tom Brutsaert and I in front of the EBAIS clinic in Amubri Costa Rica
Dr. Lee Bickmore and a Bribri politician on the way to Amubri Costa Ric

 

   
American Association of Physical Anthropologists

 

Human Behavior and Evolution Society