RESEARCH
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At a glance: research interests and program
My research program incorporates evolutionary theory, morphological trait variation, functional anatomy, and skeletal biology. Together, I apply these fields in the investigation of human diversity, mostly within an archaeological context. The research I perform focuses on the following topics:

Evolution of human body form (body size, shape, proportions, & morphological integration)

Ascertaining skeletal trait variance in relation to population structure, cultural history, natural selection, and environmental factors (e.g., subsistence, climate, and ranging behavior)

Ontogenetic effects of environmental factors on skeletal biology

Metabolic and mechanical effects on cortical bone geometry

Human morphological variation in the Americas, and the late Pleistocene & Holocene movement of groups into & within the Americas

Concordance of biological and archaeological evidence

Reconstruction and scaling effects in skeletal metrics

Download a copy of my CV here.
 
Current Projects
 
Evolutionary processes in human trait variance
Collaborators: Dr. Charles Roseman, Kristen R.R. Savell (ABD), Elizabeth R. Agosto (ABD)

The evolution of morphological traits is shaped by a combination of evolutionary forces, especially by genetic drift, gene flow, and natural selection. The detection of the influence of each of these forces in human morphological variation, however, has largely been left to inferences made by examining the distribution of patterns in trait variance. This project seeks to address this shortcoming by using genetic and anthropometric data to model human trait variance in relation to population structure. These models, further, are used to assess prior arguments for adaptation in human body size, shape, and proportions in relation to environment and population history.

Project outcomes:

Savell KRR. In prep. Evolvability and conditional evolvability of human body form. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Savell KRR, Auerbach BM, & Roseman CC. 2016. Constraint, natural selection, and the evolution of human body form. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 113:9492-9497

Roseman CC & Auerbach BM. 2015. Ecogeography, genetics, and the evolution of human body form. Journal of Human Evolution 78:80-90.

 
Human pelvic morphological variation and evolution
Collaborators: Dr. Cara Wall-Scheffler, Dr. Helen Kurki, Dr. Kathryn King, Dr. Adam Sylvester, Angela M. Mallard, Kristen R.R. Savell (ABD)

The human pelvis is uniquely at the confluence of multiple selection pressures. Namely, its morphology must meet the demands of obstetric sufficiency, while also allowing for energetically efficient locomotion. In addition, its size relates to efficient thermoregulation. Understanding the relative influences of these factors on the evolution of the pelvis has been a topic of study within biological anthropology for decades. Our research examines this topic using new research avenues, including model-fitting approaches, sampling from human groups with narrow genetic variance, and incorporating energetics data. Ultimately, a new synthesis of understanding the evolution of human pelvic morphology is a goal of this research.

Project outcomes:

National Science Foundation — BCS Division Collaborative Grant, Biological Anthropology Program #0962752: "Pelvic shape and differential mortality: obstetric variation among indigenous North American populations".

Mallard AM, Savell KRR & Auerbach BM. In press. Morphological integration of the human pelvis with respect to age and sex. Anatomical Record.

Auerbach BM, King KA, Campbell ML, Campbell RM & Sylvester AD. In review. Variation in obstetric dimensions of the human bony pelvis in relation to age-at-death and latitude. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Wall-Scheffler CM, Auerbach BM, Kurki HK. Under contract. The Evolutionary Biology of the Human Pelvis: An Integrative Approach. Cambridge University Press. (planned publication in 2018)



Current & Former Doctoral Students

Interested in pursuing doctoral studies with Dr. Auerbach?
See the Information for Prospective Doctoral Students page.

Students are listed in reverse chronological order

Angela M Mallard, M.A. (2015 - Present) [amallard@vols.utk.edu]
Mallard AM, Savell KRR & Auerbach BM. In press. Morphological integration of the human pelvis with respect to age and sex. Anatomical Record.
Elizabeth R Agosto, M.A., ABD (2014 - Present) [eagosto@vols.utk.edu]
Agosto ER, Williams SJ & Auerbach BM. In prep. Technical Note: Evaluation of Interior and Exterior Cranial Base Angle Measurement Methods. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
Samuel J Williams, B.S. (2014 - Present) [swill140@vols.utk.edu]
Agosto ER, Williams SJ & Auerbach BM. In prep. Technical Note: Evaluation of Interior and Exterior Cranial Base Angle Measurement Methods. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
Kristen RR Savell, M.A., ABD (2013 - Present) [ksavell@vols.utk.edu]
Mallard AM, Savell KRR & Auerbach BM. In press. Morphological integration of the human pelvis with respect to age and sex. Anatomical Record.

Savell KRR, Auerbach BM, & Roseman CC. 2016. Constraint, natural selection, and the evolution of human body form. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 113:9492-9497

Savell KRR. In prep. Evolvability and conditional evolvability of human body form. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
Kimberly T Wren, M.A., ABD (2015 - Present) [kwren@vols.utk.edu]
Dissertation: The Effects of Racialization on European American Stress in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century
David Echeverry, B.A., ABD (2011 - Present; co-chair with Dr. David Anderson)
[dechever@vols.utk.edu]

Amber D Wheat, M.A., Ph.D. (2010 - 2015) [awheat@vols.utk.edu]
Dissertation: Investigating Postnatal Ontogeny in the Craniofacial Complex of Human Juveniles.

Algee-Hewitt BFB & Wheat AD. 2016. The reality of virtual anthropology: Comparing digitizer and laser scan data collection methods for the quantitative assessment of the cranium. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 160:148-155.

Wheat AD. 2012. Survey of professional opinions regarding the peopling of the Americas. The SAA Archaeological Record 12:10-14. ( DOWNLOAD LINK)
Nicole M Reeves, M.A., Ph.D. (2009-2014) [NicoleReeves@RossU.edu]
Current position: Assistant Professor, Faculty of Anatomy, Ross University School of Medicine

Dissertation: Augmenting Functional Adaptation: Does Obesity have a Systemic Effect on Bone Strength in Humans? (DOWNLOAD LINK)

Reeves NM, Auerbach BM, & Sylvester AD. 2016. Fluctuating and directional asymmetry in the long bones of captive cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus). American Journal of Physical Anthropology 160:41-51.
Rebecca K Scopa Kelso, M.A., Ph.D. (2010-2013) [rkelso@osteo.wvsom.edu]
Current position: Assistant Professor of Anatomy, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (website)

Dissertation: A Comparison of Mississippian Period Subadults from the Middle Cumberland & Eastern Tennessee, and the Role of Biological Indicators in Assessing the Health and Migration of Past Populations (DOWNLOAD LINK)
Courtney D Eleazer, M.A., Ph.D. (2008-2013) [celeazer@osteo.wvsom.edu]
Current position: Assistant Professor of Anatomy, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine

Dissertation: The Interaction of Mechanical Loading and Metabolic Stress on Human Cortical Bone: Testing Anthropological Assumptions Using Cross-Sectional Geometry and Histomorphology (DOWNLOAD LINK)

Eleazer CD, & Jankauskas R. 2016. Mechanical and metabolic interactions in cortical bone development. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 160:317-333.

Cowgill LW, Eleazer CD, Auerbach BM, Temple DH, & Okazaki K. 2012. Developmental variation in ecogeographic body proportions. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 148:557-570. (DOWNLOAD LINK)


External Links

Professional affiliations
 


 
Former institutions
 
Additional external links of interest
  • The eSkeletons Project, a decent place to go brush up on your osteology. (Although, nothing is better than picking up a textbook and some bones.)


  • A curious site (introduced by Dr. Trent Holliday of Tulane University) that lists fallacious arguments (a good resource for critical thinking when making assertions and arguments).


  • PhD Comics, possibly one of the most humorously accurate portrayals of life in academia.


  • Official National Park Service site regarding NAGPRA.
 
Site design by B.M. Auerbach. Last updated: March 2016