New course offering – Evolution of Cognition

I am excited to be offering a brand-new course for Spring Quarter, entitled ‘Evolution of Cognition.’ There are still spots available, so feel free to sign up. This course also fulfills the Writing Proficiency 3 requirement.

The goal of the course is to discuss the evolution of large brain size in primates and how it interacted with reproductive ecology (e.g., parental care, lactation and resource availability, changes in ovulation/estrus, and mating systems) as well as anatomical changes related to bipedality. Students will be asked to write a grant-proposal style paper on a topic of their choice, related to the class. This is a biology-heavy class focused on the evolution of cognition in our species and other primates (with comments on other animals, e.g., dolphins, canids, elephants), leading to humans today.

Fall quarter is underway!

Fall quarter is officially up and running here at Western! I am teaching ANTH 215 Intro to Biological Anthropology this quarter. This class is designed to introduce students to the biological side of anthropology, including human osteology, primate paleontology, human evolution, and primate behavior, as well as comparative biology, evolutionary theory, and genetics. Additionally, this course addresses modern human biological variation from historical, comparative, evolutionary, biomedical, and cultural perspectives. I have a great group of students in my class, an excellent graduate student instructor running the labs, and I am looking forward to a great quarter!

Another successful ICVM meeting

I just got back from Prague where I attended and presented at ICVM 19. It was an excellent meeting with a lot of really interesting research, and it was great getting to talk science with so many colleagues! While I was there, I presented my ongoing work on human enamel-dentine junction morphology, and I was happy to receive a lot of really useful feedback on the research. I also got spend some time enjoying Prague – it is a beautiful city! Thank you ICVM 19, and I hope to see you in Australia in 2022!

Future PI at Western Washington University

I am honored to announce that I have accepted a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Western Washington University, beginning fall 2009.

At Western, I will be running the Bioanthropology lab and teaching Intro to Bio Anth and Osteology. I will also be conducting research on primate evolution, life history, and reproductive ecology in conjunction with undergraduate and graduate researchers.

I am very excited to start this next chapter of my academic career, and I can’t wait to join the community and faculty at Western. It’s a dream to head back to the Pacific Northwest! And I am looking forward to working with Washington students in anthropology and biology, with goals of advancing science, science communication, and outreach.

Integrative Human Evolution Symposium 2019

Along with PhD student Rahel Brügger, I am hosting the 2019 Integrative Human Evolution Symposium! The Integrative Human Evolution Symposium (IHES 2019) is a one-day Symposium, the first of its kind in Zurich, to be held at the University of Zurich Irchel Campus on April 11th, 2019. The Symposium is free, open to the public, and in English. 

At the Symposium, invited early-career researchers from universities in Switzerland in the fields of Anthropology, Evolutionary Medicine, Comparative Linguistics, Philosophy, Paleogenomics, Environmental Systems Science, and Geography will talk about human evolutionary studies, past and future.

We were awarded funding from the Graduate Campus at UZH to organize and host this interdisciplinary symposium, with four primary mission goals: 1) To provide career development opportunities for junior researchers (graduate students and postdoctoral researchers), 2) To facilitate an interdisciplinary research environment, 3) To promote a platform for diversity in academia and the sciences, and 4) To offer an opportunity for science communication and education. 

Everyone is welcome and invited to attend this free Symposium. If you are in Zurich, we hope to see you there!

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.

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.

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