Anthropology of Health position at Baylor

Anthropology of Health position at Baylor

Assistant Professor in Human Genetics

The Department of Anthropology within the College of Arts & Sciences at Baylor University is accepting applications for an assistant professor (tenure-track).  This position is open to applicants with research and teaching interests in human genetics, including molecular anthropology, genetics of modern diseases, genetic epidemiology, evolutionary/population genetics, behavioral genetics, epigenetics, the microbiome, ancient DNA, bioinformatics, and all related topics.  Preference will be given to those who use genetic methods to study human health, and who are capable of teaching laboratory-based courses to undergraduate and graduate students.  Someone with a combination of active field and laboratory research is preferred.  The candidate should possess an earned doctorate (at the time of appointment) in an appropriate field of study.

The new faculty member will join a growing department with interest in applied perspectives on the anthropology of health, broadly conceived.  Interest in contributing to a new PhD program (in the Anthropology of Health) is required, and skills appropriate for training graduates for non-academic jobs are preferred.  Faculty members are required to contribute to teaching, research, and service.  Expectations for an active research agenda include publishing and granting, as well as involving students as appropriate.

The Department of Anthropology values diversity and is especially interested in candidates who can contribute to the diversity and excellence of our academic community through research, teaching, and service.  We also accept the American Association of Physical Anthropologists’ Code of Ethics, the Society for Applied Anthropology’s Statement of Ethics and Professional Responsibilities, and the American Association of University Professors’ Sexual Harassment Policy.  We pledge to respect each other, our students, and the people, animals, and places we study.

Applications will be reviewed beginning 08/19/2019 and will be accepted until the position is filled. To ensure full consideration, complete applications must be submitted by 10/01/2019.  The following materials should be uploaded into Interfolio ( letter of application (explaining your qualifications, current and future research plans, and teaching experience and philosophy), current curriculum vitae, transcript of highest degree earned (or if PhD is in progress, a copy of official transcript showing completed PhD hours), and the contact information (names, email addresses, and phone numbers) for three potential references.  Finalists for this position will be required to submit official doctoral transcripts in advance of a campus visit.  Employment will be contingent upon the successful completion of a background check.

To learn more about the above position, the Department of Anthropology, the College of Arts and Sciences, and Baylor University, please visit .  Please contact Dr. Michael Muehlenbein ( with any questions.

Baylor University is a private not-for-profit university affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.  As an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer, Baylor is committed to compliance with all applicable anti-discrimination laws, including those regarding age, race, color, sex, national origin, marital status, pregnancy status, military service, genetic information, and disability.  As a religious educational institution, Baylor is lawfully permitted to consider an applicant’s religion as a selection criterion.  Baylor encourages women, minorities, veterans, and individuals with disabilities to apply.

The Evolution of Evolutionary Medicine

The Evolution of Evolutionary Medicine

This is an open access preprint of a book chapter by Derek Painter, Julia Damerow and Manfred Laubichler that will be published in The Dynamics of Science: Computational Frontiers in History and Philosophy of Science. It follows the genesis of evolutionary medicine from combination of evolutionary biology and human health & disease to a scientific field flush with global conferences and its own journal.

Abstract: For several decades interdisciplinary research has been pushed by funding agencies, science administrators and generations of well-intentioned scientists. Interdisciplinary research is needed, so the argument, because the problems we face in medicine, environmental sciences, sociology or anthropology — the list can go on — are too complex to be mapped onto one traditional discipline. While the motivation for interdisciplinary research is clear, its actual success is less obvious. For one, we don’t quite know how to measure interdisciplinarity. We also have a difficult time distinguishing different degrees of interdisciplinarity. Do we mean actual collaborations between scholars from different disciplines or are we more interested in a combination of different conceptual and methodological approaches, perhaps even in one person’s work? And how closely are those two layers linked? Does the successful application of different approaches require collaboration between scholars with different backgrounds? How can we tell whether any interdisciplinary approach is “better” and in what ways? Traditionally these questions are addressed in the context of individual case studies, such as with breakthrough discoveries. While those narratives provide detailed insights into some localized scientific cultures, we have no way of answering questions about interdisciplinarity at a larger scale. Yet understanding across individual cases is exactly the kind of information we need if we want to retool the scientific enterprise towards greater degrees of interdisciplinarity. In this study of evolutionary medicine, we asked these questions using an evolutionary biology analogy based on a complete data set (continuously growing) of all publications in evolutionary medicine over the last four decades. By using this analogy, we are able to frame results in familiar terms and better understand the nature of interdisciplinarity and how to measure it. Evolutionary medicine is an interesting case, as it was quite intentionally created as an interdisciplinary field by Randolph M. Nesse and George C. Williams through a conceptual essay \cite{Williams1991Dawn} and a successful book \cite{Nesse1994} — these publications serve, in effect, as the founder effect for the field. Their argument was quite straight forward. Humans are the product of evolution, so are diseases. In order to better understand and treat them, medicine needs to incorporate evolutionary perspectives. Conceptually the argument was easy to follow and quite convincing. Yet the actual scientific practice is another matter, and it is difficult to assess from individual reports whether and how evolution was actually making a difference to clinical practice. Looking at the large corpus of all publications claiming to incorporate evolutionary biology into medicine can give us an answer to the question: “what difference did it make to bring evolution into medicine?” And to ask, in effect, did evolutionary medicine become a new scientific field distinguishable from other disciplines?

EMPH gets Impact Factor of 4.4

EMPH gets Impact Factor of 4.4

Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health has just received its first Impact Factor–4.4. This places the journal 10/50 in category of Evolutionary Biology and 23/185 in category of Public, Environmental & Occupational Health.

The official journal of the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, & Public Health, EMPH is published Open Access by Oxford University Press and edited by Charles Nunn. It was founded by Stephen Stearns.

The journal is the preeminent prefered place to publish articles on evolution, medicine, and public health. A selection of highly cited articles in the journal is here.

Submitted articles get prompt professional review. Author’s fees are dramatically discounted for ISEMPH members and options are available to ensure all accepted articles can be published. Each year the best article in the journal receives the $5000 Williams Prize.

To submit your article, see the journal website.

The State of Undergrad EvMed Education

The State of Undergrad EvMed Education

Grunspan, D. Z., Moeller, K. T., Nesse, R. M., & Brownell, S. E. (2019). The state of evolutionary medicine in undergraduate education. Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health, 2019(1), 82–92.


Background and objectives

Undergraduate courses that include evolutionary medicine (EM) are increasingly available, but quantified data about such courses are lacking. In this article, we describe relevant course offerings by institution and department type, in conjunction with information on the backgrounds and experiences of associated instructors.Methodology


We searched course catalogs from 196 American universities to find courses that include EM, and sent a survey to 101 EM instructors to ask about their backgrounds and teaching experiences.

Research-focused universities (R1) were much more likely to offer at least one course that covers evolutionary applications to health and disease than universities that granted only bachelor’s or master’s degrees. A survey course on EM was offered in 56% of 116 R1 universities, but only 2% of the 80 non-R1 universities we searched. Most EM instructors have backgrounds in anthropology or biology; each instructor’s area of expertise provides clues as to how continued growth of EM may occur differently by discipline.

Conclusions and implications

Undergraduates are most likely to learn about EM in research-intensive universities from an anthropological or biological perspective. Responses from anthropology and biology instructors, including whom they share course materials with, highlight that courses may differ depending on the discipline in which they are taught.

Cooperation and Conflict in Human Pregnancy

Cooperation and Conflict in Human Pregnancy

A new short review by David Haig will be of interest to all who study human reproduction and pregnancy.

Haig, D. (2019). Cooperation and conflict in human pregnancy. Current Biology, 29(11), R455–R458.

Abstract: For many humans living today, obstetric care begins early in pregnancy, and most babies are born in hospitals. These are precautionary measures. Medical complications during the brief nine months of pregnancy are such a common part of human experience that we rarely ask ourselves why gestation does not always proceed as smoothly and reliably as the lifelong beating of our heart or filtration of blood by our kidneys. The birth of a healthy child is central to reproductive fitness and must have been subject to strong natural selection. Why then should placentas be less reliable organs than hearts or kidneys? Why should maternal hearts and kidneys be more subject to catastrophic failures during pregnancy than at other times? A crucial contrast distinguishes obstetrics from cardiology and nephrology. The coordinated activities of heart and kidneys take place within an individual comprised of genetically largely identical cells, whereas pregnancy involves an interaction between genetically-distinct individuals whose cooperation is obviated by evolutionary conflicts of interest.

Can the Pregnancy Compensation Hyp. Explain Why Women Get More Autoimmune Disorders?

Can the Pregnancy Compensation Hyp. Explain Why Women Get More Autoimmune Disorders?

Natri, H., Garcia, A. R., Buetow, K. H., Trumble, B. C., & Wilson, M. A. (2019). The Pregnancy Pickle: Evolved Immune Compensation Due to Pregnancy Underlies Sex Differences in Human Diseases. Trends in Genetics, 35(7), 478–488.

Abstract: We hypothesize that, ancestrally, sex-specific immune modulation evolved to facilitate survival of the pregnant person in the presence of an invasive placenta and an immunologically challenging pregnancy – an idea we term the ‘pregnancy compensation hypothesis’ (PCH). Further, we propose that sex differences in immune function are mediated, at least in part, by the evolution of gene content and dosage on the sex chromosomes, and are regulated by reproductive hormones. Finally, we propose that changes in reproductive ecology in industrialized environments exacerbate these evolved sex differences, resulting in the increasing risk of autoimmune disease observed in females, and a counteracting reduction in diseases such as cancer that can be combated by heightened immune surveillance. The PCH generates a series of expectations that can be tested empirically and that may help to identify the mechanisms underlying sex differences in modern human diseases.