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. These are studied through the lens of quantitative genetics and evolutionary modeling. The research I perform focuses on the following topics:

Trait complex evolution within primates and within Australian marsupials

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

Ascertaining skeletal trait variance in relation to population structure, cultural history (in humans), 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 primate morphological variance across multiple traits
Collaborators: Dr. Charles Roseman, Dr. Kristen R.R. Savell, Dr. Elizabeth R. Agosto, Kelsey D. O'Neill, M.A.

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 primate 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 osteometric data to model trait variance in relation to population structure, and to examine potential for evolution across multiple traits in the primate skeleton. These models, further, are used to assess prior arguments for adaptation in relation to environment, population history, and functional morphology.

Project outcomes:

Auerbach BM, Agosto ER, & Savell KRR. In prep. Morphology, evolution, and the whole organism imperative. Yearbook of Biological Anthropology.

Auerbach BM & Agosto EA. In prep. Evolutionary covariance in the primate veterbral column with traits of the shoulder, basicranium, and pelvis.

Agosto ER, O’Meara BC, & Auerbach BM. In prep. Evolution within the primate axial skeleton: assessing univariate models of trait evolution using a phylogenetic comparative approach.

Savell KRR, Katz DC, Weaver TD, & Auerbach BM. In press. Mixed models for the relationship between latitude, temperature, and human postcranial evolution. American Journal of Biological Anthropology.

Agosto EA & Auerbach BM. 2022. Morphological integration and evolutionary potential of the primate phoulder: Variation among taxa and implications for genetic covariances with the basicranium, pelvis, and arm. Journal of Human Evolution.

Agosto EA & Auerbach BM. 2021. Evolvability and constraint in the primate basicranium, shoulder, and hip and the importance of multi-trait evolution. Evolutionary Biology https://doi.org/10.1007/s11692-021-09532-2

Savell KRR. 2020. Evolvability in human postcranial traits across ecogeographic regions. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 172:110-122.

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, Dr. Terence D. Capellini, Dr. Mark Grabowski, Dr. Angela M. Mallard, Dr. Kristen R.R. Savell

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. We also are working toward new evo-devo models of pelvic morphology. 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".

Young M, Richard D, Grabowski M, Auerbach BM, Muthuirulan P, Kharkar V, Kurki HK, Betti L, Birkenstock L, Lewton KL, & Capellini TD. In press. The developmental impacts of natural selection on human pelvic morphology.

Wall-Scheffler CM, Kurki HK, & Auerbach BM. 2020. The Evolutionary Biology of the Human Pelvis: An Integrative Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 978-1-107-19957-6

Auerbach BM, King KA, Campbell ML, Campbell RM & Sylvester AD. 2018. Variation in obstetric dimensions of the human bony pelvis in relation to age-at-death and latitude. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 167:628-643.

Mallard AM, Savell KRR & Auerbach BM. 2017. Morphological integration of the human pelvis with respect to age and sex. Anatomical Record 300:666-674.



Current Graduate Advisees

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

Students are listed in reverse chronological order

Marta M Paulson, M.A. (2022 - Present) [mpaulso1@vols.utk.edu] Ph.D. Student

Kelsey D O'Neill, M.A. (2019 - Present) [koneill5@vols.utk.edu] Ph.D. Student

Grace S Kilroy, M.A. (2019 - Present) [gkilroy@vols.utk.edu] Ph.D. Student

Gregory J Wehrman, M.A. (2018 - Present) [gwehrman@vols.utk.edu] Ph.D. Student
[projected completion in 2023]
Co-advised with Dr. Dawnie Steadman
Haley E Horbaly, M.A. (2018 - Present) [hhorbaly@vols.utk.edu] Ph.D. Student
Co-advised with Dr. Dawnie Steadman

Dissertation: Articular Morphology in Human Limb Synovial Joints: Variation, Covariation, and Application [projected completion June 2022]
Katharine G Ryan, M.A. (2017 - Present) [kryan19@vols.utk.edu] Ph.D. Student
Dissertation: Variation and covariation of the sphenoidal sinus with respect to the cranium in Homo sapiens [projected completion July 2022]



Former Graduate Advisees

Justin S Bailey, M.A. (2019 - 2022)
Current position: Archaeologist, Tennessee Valley Authority

Thesis: Exchange and Social Interaction in the Tennessee River Valley: A Geospatial Approach to the Analysis of Late Archaic Archaeological Sites - under embargo until May 2023
Angela M Mallard, M.A., Ph.D. (2015 - 2021) [angmalla@iu.edu]
Current position: Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Anatomy, Cell Biology, & Physiology, Indiana University School of Medicine

Dissertation: Assessing Multiple Lines of Evidence for Gene Flow in Archaeological Contexts - under embargo until August 2022

Mallard AM, Savell KRR & Auerbach BM. 2017. Morphological integration of the human pelvis with respect to age and sex. Anatomical Record 300:666-674.

Elizabeth R Agosto, M.A., Ph.D. (2014 - 2019) [eagosto@iu.edu]
Current position: Assistant Professor of Clinical Anatomy, Department of Anatomy, Cell Biology, & Physiology, Indiana University School of Medicine

Dissertation: The Evolution of the Primate Shoulder: Assessing Constraint and Evolvability (DOWNLOAD LINK)

Auerbach BM, Agosto ER, & Savell KRR. In prep. Morphology, evolution, and the whole organism imperative. Yearbook of Biological Anthropology.

Auerbach BM & Agosto EA. In prep. Evolutionary covariance in the primate veterbral column with traits of the shoulder, basicranium, and pelvis.

Agosto ER, O’Meara BC, & Auerbach BM. In prep. Evolution within the primate axial skeleton: assessing univariate models of trait evolution using a phylogenetic comparative approach.

Agosto EA & Auerbach BM. 2022. Morphological integration and evolutionary potential of the primate phoulder: Variation among taxa and implications for genetic covariances with the basicranium, pelvis, and arm. Journal of Human Evolution.

Agosto EA & Auerbach BM. 2021. Evolvability and constraint in the primate basicranium, shoulder, and hip and the importance of multi-trait evolution. Evolutionary Biology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11692-021-09532-2.

Kristen RR Savell, M.A., Ph.D. (2013 - 2018) [savellk@sacredheart.edu]
Current position: Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Sacred Heart University

Dissertation: Postcranial Evolution in Humans with Respect to Trait Covariance and Ecogeography (DOWNLOAD LINK)

Auerbach BM, Agosto ER, & Savell KRR. In prep. Morphology, evolution, and the whole organism imperative. Yearbook of Biological Anthropology.

Savell KRR, Katz DC, Weaver TD, & Auerbach BM. In press. Mixed models for the relationship between latitude, temperature, and human postcranial evolution. American Journal of Biological Anthropology.

Savell KRR. 2020. Evolvability in human postcranial traits across ecogeographic regions. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 172:110-122

Mallard AM, Savell KRR & Auerbach BM. 2017. Morphological integration of the human pelvis with respect to age and sex. Anatomical Record 300:666-674.

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
Kimberly T Wren, M.A., Ph.D. (2015 - 2017) [kimberly.wren@unt.edu]
Current position: Adjunct Instructor, Department of Anthropology, University of North Texas

Dissertation: The Effects of Racialization on European American Stress in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century
Alice F Gooding, M.A., Ph.D. (2011-2017) [afazloll@kennesaw.edu]
Co-advised with Dr. Dawnie Steadman

Current position: Assistant Professor, Department of Geography and Anthropology, Kennesaw State University

Dissertation: Variation in Cortical Bone Distribution in the Aging Adult Appendicular Skeleton (DOWNLOAD LINK)

Auerbach BM, Gooding AF, Shaw CN, & Sylvester AD. 2017. The relative position of the human fibula to the tibia influences cross-sectional properties of the tibia. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 163:148-157.
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: Associate 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: Associate 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)

Scopa Kelso R, Driscoll KD, & Hulsey BI. 2020. A dental molding compound: use in non-laboratory environments. Journal of Dental Anthropology 33(1): 17-22.

Scopa Kelso R. 2018. Mississippian subadults from the Middle Cumberland and Eastern regions of Tennessee: Biological indicators of population interaction. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 166:417-432. (DOWNLOAD LINK)

Eleazer CD, & Scopa Kelso R. 2018. Influence of Study Approaches and Course Design on Academic Success in Undergraduate Anatomy Laboratory Courses. Anatomical Sciences Education 11(5): 496-509.
Courtney D Eleazer, M.A., Ph.D. (2008-2013) [celeazer@osteo.wvsom.edu]
Current position: Associate 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, & Scopa Kelso R. 2018. Influence of Study Approaches and Course Design on Academic Success in Undergraduate Anatomy Laboratory Courses. Anatomical Sciences Education 11(5): 496-509.

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)


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Site design by B.M. Auerbach. Last updated: July 2022