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 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 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. These models, further, are used to assess prior arguments for adaptation in body size, shape, and proportions in relation to environment and population history.

Project outcomes:

Agosto EA & Auerbach BM. In prep. The evolution of the basicranium and shoulder girdle in marmosets: implications for functional trait complexes.

Savell KRR, Katz DC, Weaver TD, Auerbach BM. In prep. Mixed models for the relationship between latitude, temperature, and human postcranial evolution.

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".

Auerbach BM, King KA, Campbell ML, Campbell RM & Sylvester AD. In press. 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 2019)

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 & 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

Katharine G. Ryan, M.A. (2017 - Present) [kryan19@vols.utk.edu]

Angela M Mallard, M.A., ABD (2015 - Present) [amallard@vols.utk.edu]
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., ABD (2014 - Present) [eagosto@vols.utk.edu]
Agosto EA & Auerbach BM. In prep. The evolution of the basicranium and shoulder girdle in marmosets: implications for functional trait complexes.

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., ABD (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., Ph.D. (2013 - 2018) [ksavell@vols.utk.edu]
Current position: Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Sacred Heart University

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

Savell KRR. In prep. Evolvability and conditional evolvability of human body form. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
David Echeverry, B.A., ABD (2011 - Present; co-chair with Dr. David Anderson)
[dechever@vols.utk.edu]

Kimberly T Wren, M.A., Ph.D. (2015 - 2017) [kwren@vols.utk.edu]
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]
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 - embargo until 2018)

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: 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)

Kelso RS. 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)
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: August 2017