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Biocultural Anthropology Lab Members

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Shelby Samartino

Dr. Shelby Samartino

Shelby Samartino is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Meehan lab. Shelby has an extensive background in international primatological fieldwork, with a focus on behavior. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Texas at San Antonio for her research examining the influence of same-sex sexual behaviors on the vaginal microbiome composition in bonobos. Shelby conducted the first study on bonobo vaginal microbiota to date. Her current research interests include how individual behavior affects reproductive health and birth outcomes. She is particularly interested in anthropological applied science and public health communication. She is currently working on the Human Milk and Cannabis project and the Maternal-Infant Microbiome, Behavior, and Ecology Study (MIMBES).



Graduate Students

Beatrice Caffé

Beatrice is in the Evolutionary Program and working in the Biocultural Anthropology Lab. She earned her BA in Anthropology at Humboldt State University. Her Master’s research will investigate the social, environmental and behavioral correlates of human milk immune factors. Her broader interests include reproductive health and maternal-infant microbiomes. Beatrice managed the infant probiotic study.








Jenna Schmidt

Jenna Schmidt is an MA student in Anthropology. She received her BA in Human Biology from Washington State University. She working on the cannabis, human milk, & development project.









Former Postdocs and Ph.D. Students


Dr. Elizabeth Holdsworth

Elizabeth Holdsworth is a former Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Meehan lab. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the Ohio State University. Elizabeth is a researcher of mother-infant relationships, infant growth, and the early life origins of health. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the University at Albany, SUNY, for her biocultural anthropological research into how mothers’ unequal exposure to stress can affect maternal health, as well as contribute to small changes in infant growth through epigenetic mechanisms. While at WSU she worked on the MIMBES and Human Milk and Cannabis projects. She is continuing to collaborate on those projects.  A list of her published research can be found at google scholar here.



Dr. Courtney Helfrecht

Courtney Helfrecht is an Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama in the Department of Anthropology. She is a biocultural anthropologist focused on investigating the effects of stress on child health and development.







Wolayte Bogale in Ethiopia

Dr. Wolayte Bogale

Wolayte Bogale earned her bachelor degree from BahirDar University in Ethiopian language studies in 2006 and her MA from Addis Ababa University in Sociolinguistics in 2009. She was awarded her Ph.D. in 2020 from Washington State University.  Her dissertation research focused on homelessness among women and children in Hawassa Ethiopia. Wolayte is the Instituional Effectiveness Coordinator at Bismark State College.