Laboratory Director

Peter Ungar

Peter Ungar

Distinguished Professor and Director of Environmental Dynamics

Curriculum Vitae

National Center for Biotechnology Information:  My Bibliography

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 200 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.

Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Research Affiliates

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Elicia Abella

Elicia Abella

Doctoral Candidate

Elicia is interested in understanding how sympatric primate species partition dietary resources during seasonal shifts. She hopes to use behavioral, geospatial, and material property data to analyze seasonal changes in diet. Elicia has participated in field excavations and surveys at Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli, and has also excavated in South Africa at the Gondolin cave site. Her research interests also include primate community ecology, niche partitioning, interspecific competition, and cercopithecoid evolution. She is also a recipient of the Sturgis International Fellowship for her dissertation research. Elicia has taught Introduction to Cultural Anthropology Drills and Introduction to Biological Anthropology Labs at the UARK. She has also participated in research projects on dental microwear textures of fossil cercopithecoids from Kanapoi and South African hominins. With support from Syiah Kuala University and the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, Elicia is currently conducting her dissertation research in Indonesia where she is studying the dietary behaviors of a primate community located in a secondary Sumatran forest.


  • OTHER GRADUATE INSTITUTION: University of Colorado Denver (M.A. in Anthropology)
  • UNDERGRADUATE INSTITUTION: The Pennsylvania State University (B.S. in Biological Anthropology)
Jenny Burgman

Jenny Burgman

Doctoral Candidate

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)
Paramita Choudhury

Paramita Choudhury

Doctoral Student

Watching expeditions and primates on television, during her childhood made Paramita lean towards the vast field of evolution. While growing up, she became fascinated with the concept of humans evolving from other primates.   During the years 2015-18 she was took part in various cultural, ecological and biological anthropology field projects. Her Master’s dissertation was a study of nutrition and body composition of tribal and non-tribal adult women from Middle and East India. She is also interested in tooth structure, tooth wear and hominid diet.

  • OTHER GRADUATE INSTITUTION: Visva-Bharati University, India (M.Sc in Anthropology)
  • UNDERGRADUATE INSTITUTION: Arya Vidyapeeth College , India ( B.Sc in Anthropology, General Zoology and Botany)
Almudena Estalrrich

Almudena Estalrrich

Postdoctoral Fellow

Almudena earned her PhD in Paleontology from the Autonomous University of Madrid (Spain), specializing in Human Evolution. Her research focuses on tracing the patterns of behavioral individual variation in fossil humans by results from the analysis of differences in their dental wear, both related to diet and non-masticatory activities. She will join the Department of Anthropology at the University of Arkansas to develop the 3DFOSSILDIET project (Tracing the Ontogenetic Evolution of Behavior in Neandertals and Anatomically Modern Humans in the Franco-Cantabrian Region. An Integrative study of 3D Tooth Wear Patterns), under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions program (EU founded).  She has written or coauthored more than 40 scientific papers and book chapters. Almudena is a member of the El Sidrón cave Neandertal’s research team, and also has studied the collections from Musée de préhistoire de Tautavel and Laboratoire Départemental de Préhistoire du Lazaret (France), National Museum of Natural History (USA), Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (Belgium), National Museum in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Museo Arqueológico de Asturias (Spain), Museo de Arqueología y Prehistoria de Cantabria (Spain), Arkeologi Museoa (Spain). She has participated in various field campaigns in Spain.

  • POSTDOCTORAL INSTITUTION: Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung in Frankfurt am Main
  • POSTDOCTORAL INSTITUTION: University of Cantabria in Spain
  • GRADUATE INSTITUTION: Spanish Natural History Museum (MNCN-CSIC, Madrid)
Li-Cheng Hua

Li-Cheng Hua

Research Affiliate

Licheng is a research affiliate of the Ungar Laboratory.  His research focuses on the mechanical properties and microstructure of mammalian teeth.  He is also interested in tooth wear, and has worked extensively on the etiology of dental microwear.

  • PRINCIPAL APPOINTMENT: Ningbo University (Mechanics Instructor)
  • POSTDOCTORAL INSTITUTION:  University of Arkansas (Chemistry)
  • GRADUATE INSTITUTION: Southwest Jiaotong University (Biotribology)
  • UNDERGRADUATE INSTITUTION: Southwest Jiaotong University (B.A. in Mechanical Engineering)
Alexandria Peterson

Alexandria Peterson

Doctoral Student

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)
Putu Pujiantari

Putu Pujiantari

Masters Student

Putu first became interested in wildlife during her childhood, while watching Steve Irwin’s documentaries.  Her interest in primate behavior grew at university, particularly after reading Darwin’s Origins of Species and participating in a primate study forum. She is especially curious about the role of primates in her own culture, folkore, and religion. In fact, she conducted her undergraduate thesis research in Bali, studying the impact of anthropogenic disturbance (culture, folklore, tourism) on feeding behavior of long-tailed macaques. She hopes to continue her work on the interface between humans and primates in Bali, and is also has interested in human evolution and dental structure of non-human primates.

  • UNDERGRADUATE INSTITUTION: Universitas Nasional, Jakarta, Indonesia (B.Sc in Biology, Environment Conservation)
Brian Sparr

Brian Sparr

Masters Student

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 Zachary

Liam Zachary

Doctoral Student

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

Undergraduate Researchers and Technicians

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Dylan Elkington-Stauss

Dylan Elkington-Stauss

Honors Student

Dylan is a recent graduate with high honors in Anthropology from the University of Arkansas.  He is currently working  on an NIH/NIDCR-funded collaboration with Dr. Anderson Hara at Indiana University College of Medicine and other colleagues.  Dylan is examining erosive tooth wear in a clinical setting using dental microwear texture analysis.

Duru Erkan

Duru Erkan

Honors Student

Duru is an Honors College Fellow and a Governor’s Distinguished Scholar from Fayetteville, Arkansas who is majoring in Biology and French with a focus on pre-dentistry. Duru is an honors college ambassador and serves as the communications officer for the Recyclebacks on campus. She is also a member of the Inspirational Chorale, SURGE, and Biology Club. Duru volunteers weekly at Washington Regional and the Washington Regional Cancer Support Home where free lodging and supplies are available for patients to make battling cancer easier. Duru is currently focusing on two projects: 1) assessing impact of occlusal fissure pattern on caries susceptability in dental patients, and 2) topographic analysis of gorilla teeth scanned by microCT to relate jaw function and tooth wear over time.

Sherjeel Naeem

Sherjeel Naeem

Honors Student

Sherjeel is a freshman Governor’s Distinguished Scholar from Greenwood, Arkansas who is double majoring in Biology and Anthropology on the pre-medical track. Although it is tough being a college freshman amidst a global pandemic, Sherjeel has found ways to get involved. He is currently a member of UNICEF, Students with Refugees, Alpha Epsilon Delta, and the Global Medical and Dental Brigades. He is new to the Ungar Lab and is in the process of identifying a specific project to work on!

Jacob Purifoy

Jacob Purifoy

Honors Student

Jacob is a Pat Walker Fellow and Governor’s Distinguished Scholar from Ashdown, Arkansas majoring in Biology with a focus on Pre-Dentistry. Jacob is heavily involved in University Bands playing French Horn in the Wind Symphony, Sousaphone in the Hogwild Band, and leads the Mellophones in the Razorback Marching Band. He is in the Pre-Dental Society and is Vice President for Kappa Kappa Psi. He has studied abroad in France, Spain, Tanzania, and plans to return to Europe this Summer. His documentary work in the former two countries earned him a Telly Award for Voiceover Narration this past Spring. Jacob volunteers in his hometown dental office during college breaks and participates in ARMOM annually. His honors thesis work centers on gross molar wear in Arctic voles sampled from varying ecological zones on the Yamal peninsula to determine whether dental measures track habitat — an important prerequisite for using rodent teeth to document impacts of climate change at high latitudes.

Grace Roberts

Grace Roberts

Honors Student

Grace Roberts is a junior Bodenhamer Fellow from Memphis, Tennessee. She is double majoring in biology and anthropology with a pre-medical focus. Grace is founder and president of Helping Hogs and Vice President of SEAME, and she is a member of the Alpha Epsilon Delta Premedical Honor Society. She has served as a Fulbright College freshman peer mentor, and she is currently a member of the Honors College Service Committee, which designs community service opportunities for student volunteers. Grace has studied abroad in Tanzania and Belize, and she has traveled to Ann Arbor, MI twice to collect data for her current project. She is researching relationships between dental topography and age in human premolars, and she has developed a new technique to facilitate the application of dental topographic analysis to clinical dentistry. 

Kaitlyn Puyear

Kaitlyn Puyear

Honors Student

Kaitlyn is an honors biology major with a minor in general business and a pre-dental concentration from St. Louis, Missouri. Kaitlyn currently serves as the Vice President of Alpha Delta Pi and previously served as the historian. She is also a member of the pre-dental society and biology club. Kaitlyn’s honors thesis work focuses on discovering new clinical applications for dental topography and microwear texture analysis.

Lindsay Saylor

Lindsay Saylor

Honors Student

Lindsay is a junior Fulbright honors student from Fayetteville, Arkansas currently double majoring in Anthropology and French with a minor in Criminal Justice. She is an Arkansas Alumni Scholar and has previously been awarded the Octa Norma High Anthropology scholarship. Lindsay has enjoyed studying abroad in France and Africa in order to enhance and gain experience in her majors. She is working on a project which involves the analysis of the dental microwear of Arctic lemmings and voles in the hopes of providing insight into the effects of climate change on teeth.



Research-Active Alumni in Academic Positions

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John Dennis (MA Student)

Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas, Monticello

Francis Kirera (MA, PhD Student)

Assistant Professor at Mercer University Medical School

Zachary Klukkert (MA Student)

Postdoctoral Fellow, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Kristen Krueger (PhD Student)

Loyola University of Chicago, Associate Professor

Gildas Merceron (Post Doc)

Researcher at CNRS and the University of Poitiers (France)

Joseph Nigro (MA Student)

Senior Support Scientist, NASA

Anna Ragni (MA Student)

PhD Student at AMNH Richard Gilder Graduate School

Blaine W. Schubert (PhD Student)

Director, Don Sundquist Center of Excellence in Paleontology
Associate Professor at East Tennessee State University

Jessica Scott (MA, PhD Student)

Assistant Director Donaghey Scholars Program
Adjunct Faculty at University of Arkansas, Little Rock

Robert Scott (Post Doc)

Associate Professor at Rutgers University

Jackson Spradley (Honors Student)

Lecturer at University of North Carolina, Wilmington

Elizabeth Weiss (PhD Student)

Professor at San José State University

Brandon Wheeler (Honors Student)

Lecturer at the University of Kent

Mariel Williams (Honors Student)

PhD Student at Harvard University

Julie Winchester (Honors Student)

Senior Research Scientist, Duke University

Charles Withnell (Honors Student)

Assistant Professor, Missouri Southern State University

Melissa Zolnierz (PhD Student)

Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences  Anatomy Laboratory Director

Recent Research Collaborators

home > people > recent research collaborators

Sam Arman (Flinders University)

Nico Avenant (National Museum, Bloemfontein)

Chris Brown (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)

Alyssa Crittenden (University of Nevada- Las Vegas)

Lucas Delezene (University of Arkansas)

Larisa DeSantis (Vanderbilt University)

Fred Grine (SUNY Stony Brook)

Anderson Hara (Indiana University)

Carlos Gonzalez (University of Michigan)

Sam Arman (Flinders University)

Hans Sues (National Museum of Natural History)

Leslea Hlusko (University of California, Berkeley)

Valeriy Ivanov (University of Michigan)

Sophie Montuire (Université de Bourgogne Franche Comté)

Aurélien Royer (Université de Bourgogne Franche Comté)

 Kari Prassack (Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument)

Martina Láznicková-Galetová (Moravian Museum)

Laura Weyrich (University of Adelaide)

John Ziker (Boise State University)


Gavin Prideaux (Flinders University)

Lin-Mao Qian (Southwest Jiaotong University)

Mark Teaford (Touro University)

Jing Xia (Southwest Jiaotong University)

Jing Zheng (Southwest Jiaotong University)

Zhong-Rong Zhou (Southwest Jiaotong University)

P. David Polly (Indiana University)

Richard Leach (University of Nottingham)

Danny  Sims-Waterhouse (University of Nottingham)

Sofia Catalucci (University of Nottingham)

Olivier Gilg (Université de Bourgogne Franche Comté)

Tesla Monson (Universität Zürich)

 Alexander Sokolov (Russian Academy of Sciences, Urals)

Natalya Sokolova (Russian Academy of Sciences, Urals)

 M. Kathleen Pitirri (Pennsylvania State University)

Claire Terhune (University of Arkansas)

Mietje Germonpre (Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

 Blaire van Valkenburgh (University of California, Los Angeles)