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Culture, Ecology & Evolution Biocultural Anthropology

Robert J. Quinlan, PhD

Professor of Anthropology

Research & Teaching: Human life history; behavioral, evolutionary & cultural ecology; ethnobiology; medical & psychological anthropology; collaborative ethnographic science; cross-cultural comparison; Caribbean; Africa; Central & South America; field & analytical methods.

I’m interested in the nexus of culture and biology in human livelihoods, reproduction, health, development, and cognition. My research examines human life history and environmental risk in small-scale societies in low-income nations. I am also involved in collaborative and interdisciplinary research in medical anthropology and ethnobiology concerning traditional health-related beliefs and practices, and their integration with “Western” biomedicine. My recent medical ethnobiology research examines antibiotic use in small-scale livestock production among East African agro-pastoralists to explore selection pressures for antimicrobial resistance and transmission of resistant bacteria.

Environmental Risk & Life History in Small-Scale Societies.  Environmental predictability has important influence on  decisions people make about investing their time, attention, energy, wealth, etc.  My recent evolutionary life history research focuses on effects of environmental shocks and uncertainty in shaping production, reproduction and impulsive decision making.

Selected Life History & Risk Related Publications (download pdfs)

Antimicrobial Use in Livestock, & Drug Resistant Bacteria among Agro-Pastoralists. This research is a large interdisciplinary study of the evolution and transmission of antimicrobial resistance among agro-pastoralists in Tanzania coordinated through the Allen School for Global Animal Health. Key findings include extensive use of unregulated antimicrobials and nearly complete lack of “withdrawal” (non-consumption) of meat and milk from animals currently and recently treated with injectable antimicrobials among livestock owners. Preliminary micropathology results indicate that Maasai people have substantially higher prevalence of antimicrobial resistant E. coli compared with other ethnic groups in Northern Tanzania. High prevalence of resistance is likely due to antimicrobial residues in milk combined with milk storage in calabashes contaminated with E. coli. Milk storage in calabashes may amplify bacterial growth, and antimicrobial residues in milk select for resistance in calabashes leading to high prevalence of antibiotic resistance.

 Selected Medical Ethnobiology & Antibiotics Related Publications (download pdfs)


A full list of publications is available in my CV. Other pdfs can be found at researchgate.