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Anthropology | Courtney Meehan

Ph.D., Washington State University
Evolutionary and Cultural Anthropology


My research focuses on global maternal-child health, the evolution of human childhood and allomaternal care (care and provisioning by non-maternal caregivers). I conduct cross-cultural research in the Central African Republic among the Aka hunter-gatherers and the Ngandu horticulturalists, Ethiopia among the Sidama agro-pastoralists and across the United States. I also co-direct an interdisciplinary and international research study on human microbiomes and milk composition in Ethiopia, Kenya, The Gambia, Ghana, Sweden, Spain, Peru, and the United States.  As a biocultural anthropologist, my research is informed through life history theory and behavioral ecology. My current projects are focused on understanding: 1) COVID-19 infection in mothers to learn more about how it influences maternal and infant health (; 2) social and environmental factors associated with human microbiomes and health; and 3) social and environmental factors associated with parental caregiving patterns.

Recent Courses:

ANTH 302 Childhood and Culture
ANTH 268 Sex, Evolution, and Human Nature
ANTH 591 Evolutionary and Cultural Anthropological Approaches to Childhood
ANTH 568 Grant Writing and Professional Development

Representative Publications:

Lackey KA, Pace RM, Williams JE, Bode L, Donovan SM, Järvinen KM, Seppo AE, Raiten DJ, Meehan CL, McGuire MA, McGuire MK. SARS‐CoV‐2 and human milk: What is the evidence?. (2020) Maternal & Child Nutrition. 11:e13032.

Lane AA, Mcguire MK, McGuire MA, Williams JE, Lackey KA, Hagen EH, Kaul A, Gindola D, Gebeyehu D, Flores KE, Foster JA, Sellen DW, Kamau-Mbuthia EW, Kamundia EW, Mbugua S, Moore SE, Prentice AM, Kvist LJ, Otoo GE, Rodríguez JM, Ruiz L, Pareja RG, Bode L, Price WJ, & Meehan CL. (2019). Household composition and the infant fecal microbiome: The INSPIRE study. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Lackey KA, Williams JE, Meehan CL, Zachek JA, Benda ED, Price WJ, Foster JA, Sellen DW, Kamau-Mbuthia EW, Kamundia EW, Mbugua S, Moore SE, Prentice AM, K DB, Kvist LJ, Otoo GE, García-Carral C, Jiménez E, Ruiz L, Rodríguez JM, Pareja RG, Bode L, McGuire MA, McGuire MK. (2019) What’s Normal? Microbiomes In Human Milk And Infant Feces Are Related To Each Other But Vary Geographically: The INSPIRE Study. Front Nutr, 6:45. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2019.00045.

Meehan CL, Lackey KA, Hagen EH, Williams JE, Roulette J, Helfrecht C, McGuire MA, McGuire MK. (2018). Social networks, cooperative breeding, and the human milk microbiome. Am J Hum Biol. 2018;e23131.

Helfrecht C, Hagen, EH, DeAvila D, Bernstein, RM, Dira SJ, Meehan, CL (2017). DHEAS production across childhood in three Sub-Saharan populations: A case study using hair hormone analysis. American Journal of Human Biology. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.23090.

Ruiz L, Espinosa-Martos I, García-Carral C, Manzano S, McGuire MK, Meehan CL, McGuire MA, Williams JE, Foster J, Sellen DW, Kamau-Mbuthia EW, Kamundia EW, Mbugua S, Moore SE, Kvist LJ, Otoo GE, Lackey KA, Flores K, Pareja RG, Bode L and Rodríguez JM (2017). What’s normal? Immune profiling of human milk from healthy women living in different geographical and socioeconomic settings. Frontiers in Immunology

McGuire MK, Meehan CL, McGuire MA, Williams JE, Foster J, Sellen DW, Kamau-Mbutia EW, Kamundia EW, Mbugua S, Moore SE, Kvist LJ, Otoo GE, Brooker SL, Price WJ, Shafii B, Placek C, Lackey KA, Robertson B, Manzano S, Ruiz L, Prentice, A, Rodriguez JM, Pareja R, Bode L.  (2017). What’s normal? Oligosaccharide concentrations and profiles in milk produced by healthy women vary geographically. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 105(5):1086-1100.

Meehan, CL, Hagen, EH, Hewlett, BS. (2017). Persistence in infant care patterns among Aka foragers. In Victoria Reyes Garcia & Pyhälä, Aili A (eds.) Hunter-gatherers in a changing world, Pp. 213-232. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

Meehan, CL, Crittenden, AN (eds.) (2016). Childhood: Origin, Evolution, and Implications. Albuquerque: NM: University of New Mexico Press & Santa Fe, NM: School of Advanced Research Press.

Gartstein M, Wolayte Bogale Gessamo, Meehan, CL. (2016). Adaptation of the infant behavior questionnaire-revised for use in Ethiopia: Expanding cross-cultural investigation of temperament development. Infant Behavior and Development, 45:51-63.

Meehan, CL, Helfrecht, C, Malcom, C. (2016). Implications of lengthy development and maternal life history: Allomaternal investment, peer relationships, and social networks. In Courtney L. Meehan and Alyssa Crittenden (eds.) Childhood: Origin, Evolution, and Implications. Albuquerque: NM: University of New Mexico Press. Santa Fe, NM: School of Advanced Research Press.

Helfrecht, C, Meehan, CL. (2016). Sibling effects on nutritional status: intersections of cooperation and competition across development. American Journal of Human Biology, 28:159–170.

Meehan, CL, Helfrecht, C, Quinlan, R. (2014). Allomaternal networks and children’s nutritional status: Is flexibility key to cooperative breeding? American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 153:513-525.

Meehan, CL, Hawks, S. (2014). Maternal and allomaternal responsiveness: The significance of cooperative caregiving in attachment theory. In Hiltrud Otto and Heidi Keller (eds.) Different Faces of Attachment: Cultural Variations of a Universal Human Need. Cambridge University Press.

Meehan, CL, Hawks, S. (2013).  Cooperative child rearing and multiple attachments. In N Quinn & J Mageo (Eds.), Attachment Reconsidered: Cultural Perspectives on a Western Theory. New York, NY: Palgrave.

Meehan, CL. (2013).   Allomothers and child well-being. In Ben-Arieh, Asher, Casas, Ferran, Frones, Ivar. and Korbin, Jill E. (Eds.), Handbook of Child Well-Being. Theories, Methods and Policies in Global Perspective. Dorcrecht: Springer.

Meehan, CL & Roulette, JW. (2013). Early supplementary feeding among central african foragers and farmers: A biocultural approach. Social Science and Medicine, 96:112-120.

Meehan, CL, Quinlan, R, Malcom, C. (2013). Cooperative breeding and maternal energy expenditure among Aka foragers. American Journal of Human Biology, 25(1):42-57.

Meehan, CL. (2009). Maternal time allocation in two cooperative childrearing societies. Human Nature, 20(4): 375-393.

Meehan, CL. (2008). Allomaternal investment and relational uncertainty among the Ngandu farmers of the Central African Republic. Human Nature, 19:211-226.

Meehan, CL. (2005). The effects of residential locality on parental and alloparental care among the Aka foragers of the Central African Republic, Human Nature, 16 (1) 58-80.


Contact Information

College Hall 342

For more information on my research visit my Website