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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:

Subbiah, M., Caudell, M.A., Mair, C., Davis, M.A., Matthews, L.,  Quinlan, R.J., Quinlan, M.B., Lyimo, B., Buza, J., Keyyu, J., &  Call,D.R., 2020 Antimicrobial resistant enteric bacteria are widely distributed amongst people, animals and the environment in Tanzania. Nature Communications 11(1):228 pdf

Caudell, M. Mair, C., Subbiah, M., Matthews, L., Quinlan, R., Quinlan, M., Zadoks, R., Keyyu, J., Call, D. (2018) Identification of risk factors associated with carriage of resistant Escherichia coli in three culturally diverse ethnic groups in Tanzania: a biological and socioeconomic analysis. The Lancet Planetary Health. pdf

Roulett, J.*, Roulette, C., Quinlan, R., Call, D., Hewlett, B., Caudell, M., Quinlan, M.  2018 Children’s ethnobiological notions of contamination and contagion among Maasai agro-pastoralists of northern Tanzania. Journal of Ethnobiology. 38(2):261-275. pdf

Roulette, C., Njau, E., Quinlan, M., Quinlan, R., Call, D. 2018 Medicinal foods and beverages among Maasai agro-pastoralists in northern Tanzania. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 216, 191-202. pdf

Ahmed, H* Call, D., Quinlan, R. & Yoder, J. 2018 Relationships between livestock grazing practices, disease risk, and antimicrobial use among East African Agropastoralists. Environment & Development Economics. 1-18. doi:10.1017/S1355770X17000341 pdf

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. pdf

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. pdf

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. pdf

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. pdf

Quinlan, R. & Quinlan, M. 2007. Evolutionary Ecology of Human Pair-Bonds: Cross-Cultural Tests of Alternative Hypotheses. Cross-Cultural Research 41(2):149-69. pdf

Quinlan, R. 2007. Human Parental Effort & Environmental Risk. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Science. 274(1606):121-125. pdf

Quinlan, R. 2006. Gender & Risk in a Matrifocal Caribbean Community: A View from Behavioral Ecology. American Anthropologist, 108(3): 464–479. pdf



Current Students

Athar Khan

Mesganaw Adualem

Jamie Chambers (co_chair)


Contact Information

College Hall 219

Curriculum Vitae