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Anthropology | Evolutionary Program

Evolutionary Anthropology

The Evolutionary Anthropology Program at WSU is open to graduate students interested in cultural, biocultural, biological anthropology and archaeology. Students in the program can pursue research any of the major areas of anthropological science. Evolutionary theory is applied to a broad swath of anthropological issues including cultural change and transmission; cultural cognition; cultural ecology; interactions among culture, behavior and human biology; human development; genetics; health; and prehistory.
Our program is built on a strong and unified theoretical foundation in human behavioral ecology, evolutionary psychology, and cultural transmission. We engage in laboratory and field research that makes use of computer simulation, molecular, ethnographic, and ethological methods. We have a strong record of research funding from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. State Department and a variety of private foundations. Graduate students are regularly involved in research and teaching from their first semester at WSU. We maintain a strongly collegial environment with national and international collaborations that facilitate comparative research and a broad student experience. As a result, many of our graduate students obtain experience at several field sites and laboratories early in their careers. Current research projects include multiple field sites in Africa, the Caribbean, and North America.

Evolutionary anthropologists at WSU use the conceptual and analytical tools of evolutionary theory to address questions such as:

How do risky social and physical environments influence the development of human behavior, culture and cognition?

What was the demographic and genetic consequence of the transition from foraging to farming witnessed by populations in the North American Southwest?

From where did the first humans to enter the Americas originate? What has happened to this population in the ensuing 15,000-20,000 years?

How does cooperative child-rearing influence human reproductive decisions and child physical, social and emotional development?

How do ecology, environmental risk and cultural practice, in regards to child rearing and early infant feeding, influence human breast milk nutrient and non-nutrient composition?

When did high fidelity cultural transmission appear in human evolution history, and what are some of the important biocultural consequences of this adaptation?

How might Pleistocene paleodemography help us better understand why the archaeological record of the Lower and Middle Paleolithic appears temporally staid and spatially homogeneous?

How does social network topology affect rates of culture change and the spatial distribution of cultural diversity?

What insights does evolutionary theory provide into mental health problems, such as depression and substance use?

The Evolutionary Anthropology graduate program at WSU organizes and builds upon the strengths of the faculty to provide graduate students with cutting-edge training and coursework that combines theoretical sophistication with analytical rigor. Unlike other programs in anthropology, the interests and expertise of the WSU faculty offer a uniquely broad range of courses, covering some of the most important strains of evolutionary anthropological research.

As with other graduate programs in the Department of Anthropology, the evolutionary anthropology program is committed to fostering and strengthening intellectual interactions between students and faculty. We periodically hold brownbag and journal club meetings where students and faculty discuss their current research. Participation in both groups is voluntary, but students are strongly encouraged to become involved.

Evolutionary Anthropology Faculty

Interests: Human biology, ecological immunology, reproductive ecology, host-parasite interactions, evolutionary medicine, human growth, endocrinology, life history theory.


Interests: Darwinian medicine, mental health, drug use, child growth and development. Sub-Saharan Africa


Interests: Quantitative methods in anthropology, agent based models, evolutionary ecology. Archaeology of Southwestern and Southeastern North America


Interests: Evolutionary Biocultural Anthropology, Life History Theory, Human Milk Composition, Human Milk Microbiome (HMM), Gut Microbiome, Cooperative Breeding, Infant and Child Development, Child Growth, Hunter-gatherers, Agro-Pastoralists, Sub-Saharan Africa, Cross-Cultural Research.


Interests: Human sociality, collective action, risk management, human behavioral ecology, evolutionary psychology, cultural anthropology, development anthropology, behavioral economics, social psychology, Latin American anthropology, applied statistics.


Interests: Agent-based modeling, cultural evolution and diversity, cultural transmission, evolution of altruism, gene-culture coevolution, human evolution, life history, multilevel selection, paleodemography, spatially explicit models.


Interests:  Behavioral & evolutionary ecology, medical anthropology, ethnography, life history & reproductive behavior, cultural responses to environmental risk, household demography & economics. East Africa, Caribbean.

Graduate Coordinator
Dr. Luke Premo

Student Representative

Courtney Love