Lawrence M. Schell

Lawrence M. Schell

Distinguished Professor
Department of Anthropology
School of Public Health
Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics
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Office: Arts & Sciences Building, Room 116

PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 1980 

Lawrence M. Schell

My research concerns the interrelationship between biology and culture and focuses on biological responses to contemporary urban environments. The urban environment may be the new frontier for human adaptation because more and more people are living in urban environments and these environments are becoming less and less like the environments of our forebearers, i.e., more challenging. I have been researching this topic by looking at the health of people exposed to different features of the urban environment. I began with a study of how noise, as a type of urban stress, affected human development, both prenatal and post-natal. I have since branched out to consider other pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and lead.

I have three current research projects. One looks at the effect of lead on child physical and cognitive development in Albany, NY. It also examines the influence of nutrition and other maternal characteristics on the transfer of lead from mother to fetus and on child development itself.  The second project seeks to address the growing concern about the effect of certain pollutants on sexual and physical development. It is a study of how PCBs may affect physical and sexual development during adolescence. This study is conducted in partnership with the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne in upstate New York. The third study, also conducted in partnership with the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation, examines the relationship of pollutants to the reproductive health of Akwesasne women who are concerned that pollution exposure may have damaged their ability to have children. 


InterestsBiological anthropology, medical anthropology, human growth and development, cities and health.

Areas: Urban North America