New paper out on the science of arm span in sports

Body proportions are significantly associated with athletic success in the NBA and MMA, according to new scientific report

July 16, 2018 – Berkeley, CA – Scientists at the University of California have released new research showing that body proportions are significantly associated with elite athletic success in the NBA and mixed martial arts (MMA). The study, led by Dr. Tesla Monson, looked at arm span (AKA wingspan, or reach) and height in more than 10,000 individuals, including 2,990 basketball players, 1,284 MMA fighters, and 6,068 recruits for the US Army. This is one of the first studies to scientifically compare body proportions and athletic success in the NBA and MMA and provides statistical evidence for the advantages of a wide arm span relative to height in athletes.

Moved to the Anthropologisches Institut at UZH!

I am happy to announce that I have officially started a postdoctoral research position at the Anthropologisches Institut und Museum at the Universität Zürich in Zürich, Switzerland! I am working with Drs. Christoph Zollikofer and Marcia Ponce de León on a project characterizing global variation in the enamel-dentine junction in modern humans. Be sure to check my research page to keep up to date on my current projects!

Tesla outside the Anthropology Museum at the University of Zürich.

New paper out in PNAS: Mother’s Milk

Our new paper on the evolution of the maternal:infant relationship came out last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Lead author, Dr. Leslea Hlusko, also wrote a blog post on the article, featured on The Conversation. I am really excited to be a part of this project that brings together dental anthropology, genomics, cellular biology, and paleoecology to pose a hypothesis about natural selection on a population of people living at high latitudes in the Beringian Refugium during the Last Glacial Maximum.

The article is open access, so anyone can read the article HERE.

Other press on our recent work:

Science Magazine: Gene linked to breastfeeding may have boosted survival of earliest Americans

UC Berkeley: Did last ice age affect breast feeding in Native Americans?

Newsweek: Genetic Mutation Behind Shoveled Teeth May Have Been Key to Ancestral Survival

We won Best Poster in Ecology and Evolution!

I am so proud of my undergraduates! They recently won Best Poster in Ecology and Evolution at the West Coast Biological Sciences Undergraduate Research Conference, hosted by St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, CA. They gave an exceptional presentation on dental variation in megabats (Pteropodidae). I can’t wait to see how this project develops! Congratulations again Maddie, Rena, and Shruti!

Rena (left) and Maddie (right) at the 2018 WCBSURC

Madeleine Zuercher (first author), undergraduate at UC Berkeley, and Tesla Monson.

AAPA meetings (2018)

While I am not able to attend the AAPA meetings in Austin this year, I am still pleased to be there in scientific spirit as a co-author on an excellent poster during the Saturday afternoon session: Primate Evolution and Anatomy. Please stop by and check out our work on dental variation in New World monkeys! 

Spring Semester

Here we are in the Spring semester! I had an amazing time teaching IB35AC, Human Biological Variation, last semester. Being at the head of a 300 person class was an incredible experience that gave me great insight into the intricacies of teaching such a large course. I am really grateful for all of the support I received from Dr. Hlusko and my five GSIs.

This Spring has been packed with activities. Just last night, I gave an invited DeCal lecture on “Medical Secrets” for a course at the intersection of journalism and public health. And I have a great lecture planned for the Marin Science Seminar next week. Other than that, it’s been all working on manuscripts, all the time. Big announcement coming soon on my plans for next year!Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 9.01.48 AM

Human Biological Variation (IB35AC)

welcomeslideAfter teaching a smaller version of the course this summer, I am very excited to be head instructor of IB35AC, a 300 student class on human biological variation, this fall. IB35AC is a lower-level class that fulfills the American Cultures component of the undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley, a breadth requirement unique to UC Berkeley that asks all students to explore the ethnic and racial variation within the United States from a comparative perspective. This course also addresses human biological variation, including phenotypes like skin pigmentation, intelligence, sex, and gender, from biomedical, anthropological, and evolutionary perspectives. A key goal of this class is to help students understand the role of both biological and cultural components of human variation in the evolution of our species.

I’m finished!

I am happy to announce that I have finished my PhD program at UC Berkeley. Yippeeee!!! It’s been an amazing 5 years in the Integrative Biology program, but I am ready to enjoy life as a doctor. Don’t worry – I’m not disappearing. I will be lecturing here at Cal this summer as head instructor of IB 35ac – Human Biological Variation. Then, it’s on to a postdoc!IMG_4937

Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award

I am happy to announce that I have received the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award from University of California, Berkeley for my work in IB 131, Anatomy Lab, and IB 140, Human Reproduction. It is an honor to be recognized amidst the numerous outstanding graduate student instructors on campus. I will be attending the award ceremony on May 2nd at I-House; I will be sure and post a picture from the event!

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