January 2010 Archives

Professor Joan Richtsmeier will present a seminar at the the Social, Life, & Engineering Sciences Imaging Center (SLEIC) at PSU on February 1 at 12:00 pm entitled: Brain and skull phenotypes in craniosynostosis: how mouse models bring a human condition into view.
Colin Shaw from the Center for Quantitative Imaging will be presenting "Putting Flesh Back Onto the Bones'; can we infer activity patterns from the hominin skeletal and fossil record"? at this week's (January 29) colloquium.

Colin's talk will begin at 3:30 pm in room 107 Carpenter Building.

We hope to see you there.
Graduate student Daniel Parker will be presenting a poster concerning migration in Nang Rong, Thailand at the PAA annual meeting in April.  Daniel is the first author on this project which is a collaboration with Sara Curran (Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology, University of Washington).
Graduate student Daniel Parker along with co-author and graduate alumnus Darryl Holman (1996), is presenting a poster titled "Event history analysis of dengue fever outbreaks in eight different endemic regions" at the AAPA meeting in April.  Darryl Holman is an associate professor at the University of Washington.


Dengue fever, a tropical illness resulting from infection by one of four dengue viruses, is a major public health concern. An estimated 50 million people become infected each year, making dengue the most common vector-borne infection in the world.  Since there currently is no vaccine, public health measures are reliant on disease modeling, surveillance, and prevention. The aim of this project was to both determine significant factors in dengue fever epidemics and then to quantify the effects of those significant factors on the length of epidemics and on the time in between epidemics.  Eight different endemic regions were chosen as study sites and region-specific data for all covariates were collected for all sites.  Sites were selected according to the availability of historical data for all covariates.  A piecewise logistic regression model with time-varying covariates was used to analyze the historical data.  Mean monthly temperature was the most significant factor, increased temperature acted to hasten the onset of outbreaks during interepidemic spells and lengthen the duration of outbreaks during epidemic spells.  Previous investigations have noted the influence of temperature on the geographic range and vector efficiency of dengue fever, this model describes the effects of temperature on epidemics in endemic regions. 

Humans are the only primates whose bodies are covered by mostly naked skin, not by fur. The evolution of our oddly bare bodies has been crucial in the development of other human traits.  In the February issue of Scientific American, Penn State anthropologist Nina Jablonski writes about the evolutionary origins of human hairlessness.
Mammals possess ample body fur for insulation, protection from external elements, and social signaling.  Though various underground or aquatic mammals have also evolved hairlessness, human hairlessness is unique because it evolved to help our bodies stay cool.  As Dr. Jablonski explains, the changing environment our ancestors faced 1.6 million years ago necessitated more trekking in search of food and fresh water.  To help regulate body temperature during elevated levels of activity, early humans shed their fur. An excerpt from her article "Evolution: The Naked Truth" is at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/sciammag/
Dr Jones, an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University, will be presenting a lecture titled "Structure, Constraint, and Selection: Explorations in Biosocial Anthropology" on Tuesday, January 12, at 3:30 p.m. in 202 Carpenter Building.

Additional information on Dr. Jones can be found at: http://www.stanford.edu/~jhj1/

Please plan to attend!  Everyone is welcome!
Graduate alumnus (Ph.D. 2009) Kirk French has been invited to participate in the 2010 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science. Kirk will present his lecture titled "Lessons from the Past: Research Reveals Ancient Civilization's Water-Supply Secrets" on February 27, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. in 100 Thomas Building.

Additional information on the 2010 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science and Kirk's lecture can be found at: http://www.science.psu.edu/alert/frontiers

Graduate student Jennie Jin and Christopher Norton (University of Hawaii
at Manoa) recently had a paper published in the December 2009 issue of Evolutionary Anthropology.

The paper is titled "The Evolution of Modern Human Behavior in East
Asia: Current Perspectives"

Attached is a pdf of the published paper Norton.Jin.EvAnth.2009.pdf