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Anthropology | Robert Quinlan

Ph.D., University of Missouri, Columbia
Evolutionary and Cultural Anthropology

Interest and Current Research

My main interests are in human behavioral, evolutionary and cultural ecology; medical & psychological anthropology;  ethnobiology; collaborative ethnographic science; cross-cultural comparison; Africa; Caribbean; Central & South America; field and analytical methods. I received my Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and I was a NIH post-doctoral fellow in Human Biology at the University of Hawai’i.

My research focuses on the role of environmental risk in shaping human reproduction, livelihood, family relations, and cognition in small-scale production systems. Lately I’ve been especially interested in life history responses to culture change. I am also involved in collaborative research concerning the evolution and transmission of antimicrobial resistance among agro-pastoralists in Tanzania.

I regularly teach Human Issues in International Development; Cultural Ecology; and graduate seminars bridging sociocultural anthropology and evolutionary ecology.

ANTH 309 Cultural Ecology
ANTH 418 Human Issues in International Development
ANTH 463 Introduction to Anthropological Demography & Epidemiology
ANTH 564 Advances in Evolution & Human Behavior
ANTH 504 Culture, Ecology & International Development

Representative Publications:

Quinlan, R. (working paper under review) Life history psychology, culture change, and recovery from extrinsic household shocks among Ethiopian farmers.

Roulette, C., Caudell, M., Roulette, J., Quinlan, R., Quinlan, M., Subbiah, M., Call, D.  (in press) A two-month follow-up evaluation testing interventions to limit the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistant bacteria among Maasai of Northern Tanzania. BMC Infectious Disease.

Ahmed, H. Call, D., Quinlan, R. & Yoder, J. 2017 Relationships between livestock grazing practices, disease risk, and antimicrobial use among East African Agropastoralists. Environment & Development Economics. 1-18. doi:10.1017/S1355770X17000341

Caudell, M., Quinlan, M., Subbiah, M. Call, D., Roulette, C., Roulette, JW, Roth, A., Matthews, L., and Quinlan, RJ 2017 Antimicrobial use and veterinary care among agro-pastoralists in northern Tanzania. PloS One 12(1): e0170328. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0170328.

Caudell, M. Quinlan, M. Quinlan, R. & Call, D. 2017 Medical Pluralism and Livestock Health: Ethnomedical and biomedical veterinary knowledge among East African agropastoralists. Journal of Ethnobiology & Ethnomedicine. 13(7): DOI 10.1186/s13002-017-0135-1.

Quinlan, R., Rumas, I., Naisikye, G., Quinlan, M., Yoder, J. 2016 Searching for symbolic value of cattle: Tropical livestock units, market price and cultural value of Maasai livestock. Ethnobiology Letters 7(1):76–86.

Quinlan, R., Jilo Dira, S. Caudell, M. Quinlan, M. 2016 Culture and psychological responses to environmental shocks: Cultural ecology of Sidama impulsivity and niche construction in SW Ethiopia. Current Anthropology 57(5):632-652.

Quinlan, R., Quinlan, M. Jilo Dira, S., Caudell, M., Sooge, A., & Assoma Amzye, A. 2015 Vulnerability & resilience in Sidama enset & maize farms in Southwest Ethiopia. Journal of Ethnobiology. 35(2):314-336.

Macfarlan, S., Quinlan, R. and Remiker, M. 2013 Cooperative behavior and prosocial reputation dynamics in a Dominican village. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Science 280: 20130557.

Meehan, C. Quinlan, R. Malcom, C. 2012 Cooperative breeding and maternal energy expenditure among Aka foragers. American Journal of Human Biology. 25(1):42-57.

Placek, C.D. and Quinlan, R.J. 2012. Adolescent fertility and risky environments: a population level perspective across the life-span. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Science, 279:4003-4008.

Caudell, M. & Quinlan, R. 2012. Global resource availability, mortality and fertility: A Path Analytic Approach. Human Biology, 84(2):101-125.

Quinlan, R. 2010 Extrinsic mortality effects on reproductive strategies in a Caribbean community. Human Nature,21(2):124-139.

Gurven, M., Borgerhoff Mulder, M,. Bowles, S., Hooper, P. Kaplan, H., Quinlan, R., Sear, S., Schniter, E., von Rueden, C.,  Bell, A., & Hertz, T. 2010 Intergenerational wealth transmission and inequality among horticulturalists. Current Anthropology 51(1):49-64.

Borgerhoff Mulder, M, S. Bowles, T. Hertz, A. Bell, J. Beise, G. Clark, I. Fazzio, M. Gurven, K. Hill, P. L. Hooper, W. Irons, H. Kaplan, D. Leonetti, B. Low, F. Marlowe, R. McElreath, S. Naidu, D. Nolin, P. Piraino, R. Quinlan, E. Schniter, R. Sear, M. Shenk, E. A. Smith, C. von Rueden, P. Wiessner 2009 Intergenerational wealth transmission and the dynamics of inequality in small-scale societies. Science, 326. (5953): 682 – 688.

Quinlan, R.J. 2008 Human pair-bonds: Evolutionary functions, ecological variation and adaptive development. Evolutionary Anthropology. 17: 227-238.

Macfarlan, S.J. & Quinlan, R.J. 2008 Kinship, family & gender effects in the ultimatum game. Human Nature. 19: 294-309.

Quinlan, R. & Hagen, E. 2008 New genealogy: It’s not just for kinship anymore. Field Methods. 10:129-154.

Quinlan, R. & Quinlan, M. 2008 Human lactation, pairbonds & alloparents: A cross-cultural analysis. Human Nature. 19(2):87-102.

Quinlan, R. & Quinlan, M. 2007. Evolutionary ecology of human pair-bonds: Cross-cultural tests of alternative hypotheses. Cross-Cultural Research 41(2):149-69.

Quinlan, M. & Quinlan, R. 2007. Modernization and medicinal plant knowledge in a Caribbean horticultural village. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 21(2):169-92.

Quinlan, R. 2007. Human parental effort & environmental risk. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Science. 274(1606):121-125.

Quinlan, R. & Quinlan, M. 2007. Parenting & cultures of risk: A comparative analysis of infidelity, aggression & witchcraft. American Anthropologist, 109(1):164-179.

Quinlan, R. 2006. Gender & risk in a matrifocal Caribbean community: A view from behavioral ecology. American Anthropologist, 108(3): 464–479.

Quinlan, R. 2003 Father-absence, parental care & female reproductive development. Evolution & Human Behavior. 24(6): 376-390.

Quinlan, R., Quinlan, M. & Flinn, M. 2003. Parental investment & age at weaning in a Caribbean village. Evolution and Human Behavior. 24(1):1-16.

Quinlan, M., Quinlan, R. & Nolan, J. 2002. Ethnophysiology and botanical treatments of intestinal worms in Dominica, West Indies. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 80:75-83.


Current Students

Athar Khan

Mesganaw Adualem

Jamie Chambers (co_chair)


Contact Information

College Hall 219

Curriculum Vitae