I study the ecology and evolution of early hominins in Africa. Most projects are focused on understanding past changes in the environments and diets of fossil hominins, primates, and other mammals using stable isotopes. Complementary isotope studies of modern African ecosystems play an important role in my approach to paleoecology. Main research areas are described in more detail below.
The Isotopic Paleoecology Laboratory at the University of Oregon supports research in paleoanthropology, archaeology, ecology, and geology. We work on a wide range of materials, including teeth, hair, plants, and soils, with a focus on the analysis of tooth enamel. We have laser ablation system for in situ microsampling of precious or very small teeth. Stay tuned for additional details, but for now check out the existing isotope lab website to see current capabilities.
My research is focused on investigating the evolution of diet variability among early hominins in eastern Africa, as well as relationships between diet and environmental change. The aim of ongoing laser ablation microsampling of fossil teeth is to understand seasonal-scale changes in diet during the lifetimes of individual hominins. The project is currently funded by the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (“A diet for all seasons: the role of intra-annual variability in the evolution of hominin diet in East Africa”).
I am interested in the role of climatic and ecological change in human evolution. My work relies on isotopes in fossil teeth and sediments to study hominin environments in Africa over the last 6 million years. Current projects are focused on reconstructing herbivore diets, aridity, and seasonality at fossil and archaeological sites in the Lake Turkana and Lake Victoria regions.
diets of modern and fossil primates
I use stable isotopes in feces, hair, and teeth to study diet and other aspects of ecology in extant and extinct primates, particularly baboons and great apes. Current work is focused on (1) understanding diet change in fossil primates in Africa over geologic to seasonal time scales, and (2) diet variability in living and historic African primates using museum and field collections. Work on living primates is critical for guiding interpretations of isotopic variability in fossil primates and hominins.
ecology of modern african herbivores
I am interested in modern herbivores as they relate to understanding ecological processes in hominin environments in Africa. Current work includes studies of herbivore diet, historical changes in herbivore ecology (particularly megaherbivores), and the taphonomy of herbivore skeletal remains. I have conducted extensive fieldwork in protected areas in Uganda, particularly Queen Elizabeth National Park.