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 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.

Graduate Students and Post-doctoral Researchers

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Elicia Abella

Elicia Abella

Doctoral Candidate

Elicia is interested in examining food competition among sympatric species of Old World monkeys and apes in Indonesia. Specifically, she is interested in understanding how these primate species partition their environment during seasonal shifts. She hopes to use behavioral, geospatial, and botanical data to distinguish seasonal dental microwear patterns in extant primates. Moreover, she plans to use primate behavioral and community ecological models as a comparison to assess interactions among sympatric fossil primates. 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. In addition to her paleoanthropological work, she has conducted public health and water sustainability fieldwork in the Dominican Republic and Honduras. Her research interests also include primate community ecology, niche partitioning, interspecific competition, and cercopithecoid evolution. 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 annual meeting in St. Louis. Elicia teaches Introduction to Cultural Anthropology Drills and has taught Introduction to Biological Anthropology Labs at the University of Arkansas. Currently, she is participating in research projects on dental microwear textures of fossil cercopithecoids and hominins.

  • 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)
Li-Cheng Hua

Li-Cheng Hua

Research Affiliate

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 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)
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

Undergraduates and Post-Baccalaureate Researchers

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Cara Coffman

Cara Coffman

Honors Student

Cara Coffman is an Honors College Fellow and Arkansas Alumni Scholar from Sugar Land, TX. Cara is majoring in honors biology with a pre-dental concentration, and plans to attend dental school after completing her undergraduate degree. She is an Honors College Ambassador, a member of the Pre-Dental Society, a member of Delta Gamma Fraternity, and sits on the Public Relations Committee of University Programs as Director of Marketing. She volunteers at WelcomeHealth’s free extraction clinic, as well as with Helping Hands Open Hearts and Natural Teeth, a local non-profit that gives dental hygiene seminars to elementary school students right here in Washington County.  Cara’s thesis project involves dental topographic analysis of living antelopes to determine whether molar shape can inform us on their diets and the environments in which they live.

Dylan Elkington-Stauss

Dylan Elkington-Stauss

Honors Student

Dylan is an honors college student from Fayetteville, Arkansas currently double majoring in anthropology and biology and is on a pre-medical track with an interest in internal medicine. He also regularly volunteers in the Emergency Department at the Veterans Healthcare of the Ozarks in Fayetteville. Dylan’s thesis work is a continuation of research on extant bovid species and a quantitative is part of a larger NIH/NIDCR funded collaboration with Dr. Anderson Hara at Indiana University College of Medicine and other colleagues.  Dylan is examining erosive tooth wear 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 topographic analysis of gorilla teeth scanned by microCT in order to relate jaw function and h tooth wear over time.

Anna Moriarty

Anna Moriarty

Honors Student

Anna 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.

James Needy

James Needy

Honors Student

James is an honors student from Fayetteville, Arkansas studying Biomedical Engineering with an emphasis in pre-dental. He is a Chancellor’s and Governor’s Distinguished Scholar as well as a member of the pre-dental society on campus. He is also a weekly volunteer at the WelcomeHealth restorative and extraction clinics. James’ research is part of a larger collaboration to assess dental fissure patterns and vulnerability to dental caries.  James will collect dental topographic data to contribute to this analysis.

Grace Roberts

Grace Roberts

Honors Student

Grace 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.  Grace is developing new techniques to facilitate application of dental topographic analysis to clinical dental patients.  She’s working on relationships between topography and age.

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 comparing incisors and molars between different species of lemmings and voles in the arctic to track climate change.

Lindsay Saylor

Lindsay Saylor

Honors Student

Lindsay is a sophomore Fulbright honors student from Fayetteville, Arkansas currently double majoring in Anthropology and French. She is an Arkansas Alumni Scholar and was recently awarded the Octa Norma High Anthropology scholarship. Lindsay has enjoyed studying abroad in the past and is currently applying for a month long program in Perpignan, France. Off of campus she also works at the local Boys & Girls Club where she works with children to improve their academic and social skills. Lindsay has not yet chosen a thesis project, but hopes to create her own that involves the application of forensic techniques on teeth.

Sam Arman

Doctoral Candidate at Flinders University (Australia)


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

Current Research Collaborators

home > people > current research collaborators

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)

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