Distinguished Professor and Director of Environmental Dynamics
Peter Ungar received his PhD in Anthropological Sciences from Stony Brook University and taught Gross Anatomy in the medical schools at Johns Hopkins and Duke before moving to the University of Arkansas, where he now serves as Distinguished Professor and Director of the University of Arkansas Environmental Dynamics Doctoral Program. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and member of the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars.
Ungar has written or coauthored more than 175 scientific works on ecology and evolution for books and journals including Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Journal of the Royal Society, Interface. These have focused mostly on diet in living primates, feeding adaptations, and food choice in human ancestors and other fossil species. He has also edited or co-edited three volumes on human evolution, and is author of Mammal Teeth: Origin, Evolution, and Diversity (winner the 2010 PROSE Award from the Association of American Publishers for best book in the biological sciences). His recently published titles, Teeth: A Very Short Introduction and Evolution’s Bite: A Story of Teeth, DIet, and Human Origins are available on bookstore shelves and online retailers.
Elicia is interested in examining Plio-Pleistocene dietary evolution of cercopithecines in eastern and southern Africa. Specifically, she is interested in environmental shifts associated with dietary adaptations. She hopes to use various dental ecological and geospatial techniques to infer habitat and dietary preferences of cercopithecines and hominins during the Pliocene and Pleistocene. Elicia has participated in field excavations and surveys at Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli. In addition to her paleoanthropological work, she has also conducted public health and water sustainability fieldwork in the Dominican Republic and Honduras. Her research interests also include cercopithecoid biogeography, paleobotany and paleoclimatic shifts. She is the 2015 Dental Anthropology Association’s Albert A. Dahlberg Prize recipient for her student paper on “Morphological Affinities of Recently Discovered Fossil Cercopithecids from the Pliocene Upper Laetolil Beds in Laetoli, Tanzania” presented at the 2015 American Association of Physical Anthropologists meeting in St. Louis. Currently, Elicia teaches Introduction to Biological Anthropology Lab and is conducting research on cercopithecoid and hominin dental microwear.
- OTHER GRADUATE INSTITUTION: University of Colorado Denver (M.A. in Anthropology)
- UNDERGRADUATE INSTITUTION: The Pennsylvania State University (B.S. in Biological Anthropology)
Jenny’s interest in the sciences can be dated back to her first memory of visiting the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) as a toddler. She has since explored different fields, including a high school internship at Rockefeller University’s biophysics lab, a college internship studying marine mammal behavior at the New York Aquarium, and most recently, a six month duration spent at Tel Aviv University in Israel working for a classical archaeologist, followed by time volunteering within the invertebrate department of the AMNH. Along the way, she obtained degrees in anthropology, biology, and coastal environmental studies. Currently, Jenny is working towards her Ph.D. in Environmental Dynamics and a recipient of the Doctoral Academy Fellowship award from the University of Arkansas. She teaches Introduction to Biological Anthropology Lab and is currently conducting research on the utilization of rodent microwear as a climate proxy. Her interests include human evolution and behavioral ecology, focusing specifically on early Homo exploitation of coastal environments and hominin diets.
- OTHER GRADUATE INSTITUTION: Duke University (M.E.M. in Coastal Environmental Studies)
- UNDERGRADUATE INSTITUTION: Brandeis University (B.A. in Anthropology and Biology, minor Classical Studies)
Li-Cheng is a visiting graduate student from Southwest Jiatong University in China. He is a part of the prestigious Tribology Research Institute in Chengdu, and is helping to stimulate collaborations between the institute and the University of Arkansas in the research domain of dental ultrasound engineering and nanowear. His research focuses on the mechanical properties and microstructure of mammalian teeth. He is also interested in tooth wear, tooth friction and tooth structure.
- GRADUATE INSTITUTION: Southwest Jiaotong University (Biotribology)
- UNDERGRADUATE INSTITUTION: Southwest Jiaotong University (B.A. in Mechanical Engineering)
Alexandria graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2014 with an honors distinction in Anthropology. She served as a TA for Human Osteology and assisted the Biological Anthropology Teaching Laboratory in other projects, including skeletal analysis for the Repatriation Department at the Field Museum. Her senior year, she was awarded the Provost Fellowship by Loyola’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, and traveled to the Ungar Lab to do research for her honors thesis. Her research used metric and non- metric traits that found a set of teeth labeled Meganthropus to be Homo erectus, and compared microwear data to other populations engaged in non-dietary tooth use behaviors. Additionally, she presented her research at Loyola’s Undergraduate Research and Engagement Symposium and the Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposium (CAURS). Her research interests include diet and behavioral reconstruction of early hominins, particularly Homo erectus, using DMTA. She is currently a TA for the Intro to Biological Anthropology Lab.
- UNDERGRADUATE INSTITUTION: Loyola University Chicago (B.S. in Anthropology and B.A. in Classical Civilizations)
Having had a long fascination with human evolution in general, Brian fell in love with fieldwork after getting his hands dirty at the 2015 Swartkrans Archaeology Field School and decided to pursue an academic career in paleoanthropology. He has since worked as an excavation assistant for the Stock Cove Project in Newfoundland and has also presented at the Central States Anthropological Society’s Annual Meeting, where he talked about the public misunderstanding of “facts and fads” of the human diet. Brian’s research interests include fossil hominin diet and ecology, and he has a deep interest in both pedagogy and public outreach to increase public scientific literacy.
- UNDERGRADUATE INSTITUTION: Eastern Illinois University(B.A. in Sociology with minors in Anthropology and Biology
Liam is interested in using the methods of dental anthropology to understand hominid paleobiology and paleoecology. More specifically, he is interested in reconstructing hominid feeding behaviors through the study of dental microwear and functional aspects of tooth shape. Liam has taken part in archaeological excavations in the United States, the Netherlands, and Spain. As an undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Cruz he was a research assistant for the Tijeras Pueblo Project, and conducted archaeological fieldwork at historical monuments on campus. While at Leiden University, he conducted research using the collections curated by its Laboratory for Osteology. This research dealt with dental modification and health in recent archaeological populations. He has presented original research at the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology in 2015, and the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in 2016. He was also a contributor to the PLOS student blog in 2015. Liam is a recipient of the Doctoral Academy Award Fellowship from the University of Arkansas.
- OTHER GRADUATE INSTITUTION: Leiden University (M.S. Archaeology)
- UNDERGRADUATE INSTITUTION: University of California, Santa Cruz (B.A. in Anthropology and History
Honors StudentJosie is a honors biology major from Fayetteville, Arkansas and is focusing on pre-dentistry. Josie serves as the Vice President of Organization for Kappa Kappa Gamma and has also served as the assistant philanthropy chair. She is also a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and has been an SI leader for University Chemistry I. Josie volunteers weekly at a local elementary school where she works with children on their reading and writing skills and is also a volunteer with Natural Teeth- an organization that teaches elementary students the importance of dental hygiene. Her honors thesis work involves analysis of the dental microwear of canids from the Pleistocene fossil site of Předmostí in the Czech Republic. Her results could have important implications for our understanding the domestication of dogs.
Gracie is an honors pre-dental student from Conway Arkansas with a major in Biology. She is a member of the Pre- Dental Society, Gamma Beta Phi Honors Society, and Kappa Kappa Gamma where she served on the Academic Committee. She is also an honors college student ambassador and a Dean’s Signature Scholar. Outside of the classroom, Gracie volunteers at Washington Elementary School. Her honors thesis work involves a comparison of surface textures of wear grooves on human teeth from an in vitro study of different toothbrushes and toothpastes to assess effects of bristle hardness and paste abrasiveness. This could have important implications for dental hygiene protocols.
Honors StudentCharlie is an honors biology major with an emphasis in pre-dentistry from Highland, Arkansas. He is a member of the pre-dental society on campus. He also volunteers at the Boys and Girls club in Fayetteville, and serves as a youth mentor in Greenland, AR. In the lab, Charlie is working to establish a baseline for reptilian microwear patterns to determine whether varanids (Komodo dragons and monitor lizards) with different diets have distinctive textures that can be used to infer the diets of fossil forms, such as dinosaurs.
Honors StudentJack is an Anthropology and Chemistry major focusing on pre-dentistry. He is a part of the Associated Student Government and pre-dental society on campus. He currently works in a dental lab as a lab technician in Rogers. Jack’s research compares extant bovids from South Africa that are grazers, browsers, and mixed feeders in order to develop a quantitative approach to mesowear based on dental topographic analysis. His ultimate goal is to have his own dental practice in his home town of Mountain Home, Arkansas. His other interests include golfing, tennis, and traveling to new places.
Honors StudentBrett is an honors biology major from Little Rock, Arkansas, studying with a focus in pre-med. She is a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Medical Honor Society, Golden Key Society, Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority, as well as a Chancellor’s and Governor’s Distinguished Scholar. Brett also volunteers weekly at the Highland Oncology Group Cancer Center, assisting patients in the chemo room, and at Horses for Healing, aiding special needs children during their horseback therapy rides. Brett’s honors thesis research involves the study of dental microwear in a sample of deer (cervids) from the Pleistocene of Romania, with an eye toward reconstructing past environments in this part of Europe.
Honors StudentBrenden is a Biology major with an emphasis in dental science. He is a a member of the National Honor Society of Collegiate Scholars, as well as a member of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, and treasurer of the Pre-Dental Society at the University of Arkansas. Brenden is currently working on the Giraffoid Project where he is analyzing the microwear of short neck giraffes that are distant ancestor of the Langebaanweg, Sivatherium to see if they are browsers or grazers, and what that can us about their environment.
Honors StudentAnna is a pre-medical honors student from Coppell, Texas majoring in Anthropology and Biology. She plays piccolo in the Razorback Marching Band and is a Student Ambassador. Anna’s thesis work focuses on a project to document molar topography in non-human primates to determine whether wear-related changes in tooth shape affect microwear patterning.
Honors StudentNaseer is an honors biology and anthropology major with a minor in Spanish and a premedical focus. He is a Bodenhamer fellow. He volunteers at the Northwest Arkansas Free Health Clinic in their dental program as well as medical. Naseer is working on a project to compare microwear in Norse and Thule populations that lived in Greenland approximately 1000 years ago. The goal is a better understanding of subsistence differences between the two groups. This might have important implications for understanding the very different fates of the Vikings and proto-Inuit settlements on Greenland.
Honors StudentGrace Roberts is a freshman Bodenhamer fellow from Memphis, Tennessee. Currently on a premed track, she plans to double major in biology and anthropology. She is involved with Lead Hogs, Honors College Ambassadors, and a new RSO currently being developed that will focus on marine conservation.
Honors StudentTaylor is an honors biology major with a minor in Spanish and a pre-law focus. Her career aspiration is to be an attorney for criminal or malpractice lawsuit cases. She is a member of Zeta Tau Alpha, and served on their philanthropy council for breast cancer awareness. She is also a member of the Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity. Taylor’s thesis work focuses on comparing incisor microwear textures of various African apes — chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas — to determine whether differences in their ingestive behaviors are reflected in variation in microwear patterning.
Tarahn is an honors pre-medical student from Fayetteville pursuing a major in Biology and a minor in Anthropology. She is the treasurer of the Al-Islam Students Association on campus and volunteers at the Free Health Clinic. Tarahn’s thesis work focuses on a project to document molar topography in non-human primates to determine whether wear-related changes in tooth shape affect microwear patterning.
Honors StudentHeidi is from Hot Springs and a pre-dental honors, biology major hoping to open her own dental practice one day. She is an SI Leader for University Chemistry I & II and a member of Recyclebacks, a recycling RSO on campus. Heidi also volunteers for the Arkansas Governor’s Quiz Bowl Association (AGQBA) by moderating tournaments and inspiring high school students to achieve academic excellence. Heidi is developing new methods for measuring dentin exposure and wear using a DinoEye Digital Microscope and numerous rodent species. Her analysis of South African rodent wear patterns will help elucidate the effects of environment and seasonality on macrowear.
Current Guest Researchers
people > current guest researchers
Doctoral Candidate at Flinders University (Australia)
Maria Ana Correia
Doctoral Student at University of Cambridge
Doctoral Student at Arizona State University
Doctoral Student at Stony Brook University
Doctoral Student at City University of New York
Assistant Professor at Loyola University Chicago
Gildas Merceron (Post Doc, 2004-2005)
Professor at University of Poitiers (France)
Assistant Professor at Mercer University Medical School
Ph.D. Student at AMNH Richard Gilder Graduate School
Director, Don Sundquist Center of Excellence in Paleontology
Curator of Vertebrates, ETSU Museum of Natural History
Associate Professor at East Tennessee State University
Assistant Director Donaghey Scholars Program
Adjunct Professor at University of Arkansas, Little Rock
Robert Scott (Post Doc, 2004-2007)
Associate Professor at Rutgers University
Graduate Student at Duke University
Professor at San José State University
Graduate Student at Harvard University
Graduate Student at the University of Texas
Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences Joplin Anatomy Laboratory Director
Nico Avenant (National Museum, Bloemfontein)
Chris Brown (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)
Alyssa Crittenden (University of Nevada- Las Vegas)
Frank Cuozzo (University of North Dakota)
Lucas Delezene (University of Arkansas)
Larisa DeSantis (Vanderbilt University)
Mikael Fortelius (University of Helsinki)
Geoff Gerstner (University of Michigan)
Fred Grine (SUNY Stony Brook)
Grant Gully (Flinders University)
Anderson Hara (Indiana University)
Frank Lippert (Indiana University)
Gavin Prideaux (Flinders University)
Lin-Mao Qian (Southwest Jiaotong University)
Michelle Sauther (University of Colorado)
Matt Sponheimer (University of Colorado)
Mark Teaford (Touro University)
Jing Xia (Southwest Jiaotong University)
Nayuta Yamashita (University of Veterinary Medicine- Vienna)
Jing Zheng (Southwest Jiaotong University)
Zhong-Rong Zhou (Southwest Jiaotong University)