I am an anthropologist and writer with a focus on the evolution of the human brain and behavior. I also have research experience in medical anthropology, molecular genetics, nutritional anthropology, and the history of anthropology.
Over the years I have published over 80 scientific research articles and papers, on a wide range of topics, in collaboration with dozens of coauthors. My research has been both lab- and field-based, with fieldwork conducted in Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Palau.
I did my undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of California at Berkeley, majoring in Anthropology and Molecular Biology for my BA, and Biological Anthropology for my PhD. After Berkeley, I did a postdoc at Stanford University in the molecular psychiatry of aging.
For many years, I was a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, followed by time spent as a neuroscience researcher in the Department of Neurology at the University of Iowa, where I also taught medical anthropology as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Anthropology. I have longstanding affiliation with the Dornsife Cognitive Neuroscience Imaging Center and the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, and am also a Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology, Indiana University.
I am a coauthor of two successful series of anthropology textbooks, which I am fortunate enough to write with good friends and colleagues. With Craig Stanford (USC) and Susan Antón (NYU), I write the introductory textbook Biological Anthropology and its shorter twin, Exploring Biological Anthropology, both now in 4th editions, for Pearson. With Andrea Wiley (Indiana University), I coauthor Medical Anthropology: A Biocultural Perspective, now in its 3rd edition from Oxford University Press. I find textbook writing to be both intellectually rewarding and challenging–much more so than I would have expected before getting into this line of work.
I have also written three other books for more general audiences. In The Lives of the Brain: Human Evolution and the Organ of Mind (Harvard University Press, 2009), I explore the normal structure and evolution of the human brain, and in The Omnivorous Mind: Our Evolving Relationship with Food (Harvard University Press, 2012), I examine how we use that brain to “think” food and eating. Most recently, in Home: How Habitat Made Us Human (Basic Books, 2015), I have looked at that place where we do most of our thinking and eating and how it came to be central in nearly all of our lives.
I do most of my own thinking and eating in my home in rural central Kentucky, where I live with my wife Stephanie and sons Reid and Perry (well, a lot of Reid’s stuff still lives here), several dogs, a cat, and some chickens.
I am currently working on a book about race in the United States in the mid-19th century.