George (PJ) Perry - Principal Investigator

Assistant Professor
Departments of Anthropology and Biology
Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences
Faculty - Ecology graduate program
Faculty - Bioinformatics & Genomics graduate program
Penn State University
Office: Carpenter Building - Room 513
Email: ghp3 (at) psu (dot) edu
Twitter: @grg_perry

 

 

Christina Bergey - Postdoc

Departments of Anthropology and Biology
Office: Carpenter Building - Room 514
Email: cxb585 (at) psu (dot) edu; Twitter: @bergeycm

Christina's previous experience included training in both anthropology and computational biology; she uses genomic-scale data to study interactions among gene flow, admixture, natural selection, and behavioral ecology in human and non-human primate populations. She is currently leading our lab's NIH-funded rainforest hunter-gatherer functional and evolutionary genomics projects.

 

 

Stephanie Marciniak - POSTDOC

Department of Anthropology
Office: Carpenter Building - Room 516
Email: szm316 (at) psu (dot) edu; Twitter: @AnthroSteph

Stephanie recently completed her PhD in Anthropology at McMaster University, where her dissertation research integrated ancient DNA and historical data to study human pathogens and health in antiquity. She is currently directing the ancient DNA laboratory at Penn State and developing archaeogenomic projects focused on reconstructing human population and disease histories.

 

 

RICHARD BANKOFF - GRADUATE STUDENT

Department of Anthropology; Dual-title PhD program in BioEthics
Office: Carpenter Building - Room 514
Email: rjb398 (at) psu (dot) edu

Richard is interested in lemur evolutionary ecology and the ethics of conservation. Specific areas of focus include dietary and behavioral niche specialization, with an eye towards how these variables can factor into the implementation of conservation efforts that minimize human-lemur resource conflicts. He is currently using comparative genomic data to test hypotheses related to aye-aye foraging adaptations, and preparing for the Madagascar ethnographic and ecological fieldwork of his dissertation research.

 

 

ALEXIS SULLIVAN - GRADUATE STUDENT

Department of Biology
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
Office: Carpenter Building - Room 514
Email: aps216 (at) psu (dot) edu; Twitter: @ap_sullivan

Alexis is a Biology graduate student with strong interests in evolution. She is currently working on an initial project involving a comparative analysis of Neandertal and anatomically modern human genetic diversity to test the plausibility of an evolutionary medicine extinction hypothesis. She is developing plans for her dissertation research on potential evolutionary responses to human hunting pressures, including body size changes for Malagasy lemurs! Alexis maintains a research blog as part of her website.

 

 

DAVID VILLALTA - GRADUATE STUDENT

Graduate Program in Ecology
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
Email: dav141 (at) psu (dot) edu

David joins the lab through the Penn State’s interdisciplinary Ecology program. He has major interests in evolutionary ecology, ecological genomics, and conservation biology. He is currently exploring ideas for bioinformatics research on aye-aye sensory ecology and evolution - including comparative genomics analyses with the striped possum (Dactylopsila trivirgata), a marsupial species sharing many morphological and behavioral convergences with aye-ayes!

 

 

Angela Battaglia - UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT

Major in Biology
Schreyer Honors College
Email: avb5594 (at) psu (dot) edu

Angela is majoring in Biology and has minors in Information Science & Technology and Psychology. She is interested in medicine, bioinformatics, and evolutionary biology; she joins our lab to develop an honors thesis project on human parasite evolutionary genomics that will combine these topics.

 

 

 

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Monica Guardado - UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT

Major in Biology
Email: mig130 (at) psu (dot) edu

Monica is interested in the evolution of the human microbiome and the role it plays in human health and disease. She ultimately plans to pursue graduate studies in this area. In the lab, she is working with multiple collaborators including Emily Davenport on a project to study whether chimpanzees acquire functional microbiome components from the termites they consume.

 

 

 

Audrey Arner - UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT

Majors in Biological Anthropology and Biology
Schreyer Honors College
Millennium Scholars Program
Email: ama6560 (at) psu (dot) edu

Audrey is a freshman Millennium Scholar interested in human evolutionary genomics. She is first developing the computer science and bioinformatics skillsets necessary for this area of research, and will then be developing and leading an independent project!

 

 


Co-advised Lab Members:

Ziyu (Raining) Wang - GRADUATE STUDENT

Department of Anthropology
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
Office: Carpenter Building - Room 516
Email: zzw117 (at) psu (dot) edu

Raining’s primary advisor is George Milner. Raining is interested in paleoepidemiology of infectious disease. Using human skeletal remains from archaeological sites, she intends to incorporate ancient DNA methods to better understand transmission patterns of ancient infectious diseases with the interaction between prehistoric migration, settlement pattern, and environmental changes.

 

Richard George - GRADUATE STUDENT

Department of Anthropology
Office: Carpenter Building - Room 403
Email: rjg276 (at) psu (dot) edu; Twitter: @RichardJGeorge

Rich is an archaeologist who joins us from Doug Kennet’s Human Paleoecology & Isotope Geochemistry Laboratory (Doug is his primary advisor). Rich is interested in prehistoric population genetics and human behavioral ecology. Specifically, he studies how population dynamics change in response to social and environmental events. Currently he is combining isotopic and ancient DNA analyses to study household dynamics and life history patterns in Mesoamerica.

 

 

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Heritiana Randrianatoandro - GRADUATE STUDENT

Department of Paleontology and Biological Anthropology
University of Antananarivo, Madagascar

Our lab is supervising Heritiana’s PhD research -- he is collecting paleogenomic and morphological data to test existing species definitions (and potentially identify cryptic species) within the extinct subfossil lemur genus Archaeolemur. Heritiana’s co-advisors for this project are Laurie Godfrey (University of Massachusetts) and Jeannot Randrianasy (University of Antananarivo). He was recently at Penn State for one year for ancient DNA labwork and dissertation research.

 

 

Rindra Rakotoarivony - GRADUATE STUDENT

Department of Paleontology and Biological Anthropology
University of Antananarivo, Madagascar

Our lab is also supervising Rindra’s Malagasy human population genetics PhD project, with University of Antananarivo co-advisors Spiral Germain Jules, Ravelonjanahary Soanorolalao, and Jean Freddy Ranaivoarisoa. Rindra recently collected 200 DNA samples from across the island of Madagascar and recently visited our lab at Penn State for bioinformatics training and population genomic data analysis.

 

 


Previous lab members:

Abby Koenig

2015-2016: Undergraduate (Immunology & Infectious Disease and Statistics majors)

Abby's interests included the development and application of computational biology methods for studies with immunology and infectious disease components. While a member of our group, Abby worked on bioinformatic analyses of tapeworm genome sequence data and helped conduct functional genomics experiments on the human tapeworm cyst heat response in Peru!  

 

 

 

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MAYA EVANITSKY

2013-2016: Undergraduate (Biochem & Mol Biol major, Anthropology minor; Schreyer Honors College)
Currently: Post-baccalaureate fellow, National Institutes of Health

For her honors thesis, Maya led an ancient DNA study of the “Nittany Lion” genome. Mountain lions are now extinct in PA, but Maya is used our clean lab to extract DNA and analyze mitogenomic diversity from the skeletons and skins of 1800s mountain lions from this region. Here is a great PSU news story about Maya and her research.

 

 

 

Jacob Cohen

2014-2016: Undergraduate (Biology major; Schreyer Honors College)
Currently: Master's degree program, Imperial College London

Jacob's honors thesis research focused on human tropical rainforest hunter-gatherers, using population genomics data to test hypotheses of potential metabolic or thermoregulatory adaptations in these groups related to the common ecological challenges of their habitats (e.g., food limitation, high heat and humidity).

 

 

 

STEPHEN JOHNSON

2013-2015: Graduate student (Anthropology)

Stephen's interests include human evolutionary medicine, health, and disease. While in the lab he studied tapeworm biology and functional genomics as a proxy for the evolution of hominin meat eating and food cooking behaviors. He is currently pursuing a health professional career.

 

 

 

ADRIJANA VUKELIC

2014-2015: Undergraduate (Biology major, Anthropology minor)

While a member of our group, Adrijana led a bioinformatics study to test hypotheses of adaptive evolution related to human dietary history, facial shape changes, and dental variation. She has major interests in human genetics and public health and is currently pursuing a career in genetic counseling.

 

 

 

Logan Kistler

2012-2014: Postdoctoral fellow (Anthropology)
Currently: Curator (Assistant Professor), Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

While a postdoc in our laboratory, Logan focused on paleogenomic projects including mitochondrial and nuclear genome analyses of Madagascar’s extinct subfossil lemurs. He also studied the ecological history of wild New World plants related to pumpkins and squashes, including how these populations may have been affected by the extinctions of megafaunal mammals, their natural seed dispersers.

 

 

Katharine Thompson

2011-2014: Undergraduate (Anthropology and Community, Environment, and DevelopmentSchreyer Honors College)
Currently: PhD student, Stony Brook University - Department of Anthropology

For her honors thesis, Kate compared aye-aye food resource availability vs. foraging behavior (with a field-based study in Madagascar) to help understand why the home ranges for individuals of this endangered species are so huge. Here is a nice PSU article about Kate and her thesis research.

 

 

 

Jason Hodgson

2012-2013: Postdoctoral fellow (Anthropology)
Currently: Lecturer (Assistant Professor), Imperial College London - Department of Life Sciences

Jason studied human evolution and population history, especially the fate of evolutionarily advantageous alleles in admixed populations, including among the Malagasy, the people of Madagascar.