Lee, Sarah E., U. of Georgia, Athens, GA - To aid research on 'Nutritional and Health Consequences of Children's Self-Provisioning Activity in Xalapa, Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Alexandra A. Brewis
SARAH E. LEE, then a student at the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, received funding in September 2003 to aid research on 'Nutritional and Health Consequences of Children's Self-Provisioning Activity in Xalapa, Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Alexandra A. Brewis. This dissertation explores how children's own provisioning activities might influence their well-being under conditions of extreme urban poverty. The immediate purpose of this study was to determine whether self-provisioning children had a measurably different nutrition and health status than children living under the same circumstances who do not engage in provisioning activities (such as working, begging or foraging for food). This dissertation research was conducted in ten neighborhoods in the shantytowns surrounding the city of Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico from October 2003 until December 2004. The researcher collected a sample size of 95 children between the ages of 8 and 12 who lived with their families. Six different data sets were collected, including 95 household interviews, 285 separate interviews concerning children's time allocation, diet, and illness. The researcher conducted 1425 hours of observation (fifteen hours per child), which provides very rich and accurate data concerning the time allocation and dietary habits of provisioning and non-provisioning children. On-going analysis indicates that the data will support the research question. There does seem to be an age and gender dimension in provisioning actives. Children shared their resources with their siblings, which is a benefit to the siblings, but also shared resources within peer groups. Children who engage in provisioning activities do seem at least marginally healthier, and some are taller than their counterparts who do not engage in provisioning activities. It is likely that the final analysis will show that children who work, beg, or forage for food, will have benefited from their activities.
Pomeroy, Dr. Emma Elizabeth, U. of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK - To aid research on 'Patterns of Growth Trade-offs Related to Early Life Environment: Insights from a High-altitude Model'
Preliminary abstract: Human growth is sensitive to environmental stressors such as nutrition and high altitude hypoxia (reduced oxygen availability). Environmental factors impact not only height, but also the relative sizes of different parts of the body such as the limbs, trunk, head and organs, and influence body composition (relative proportions of muscle and fat). It is thought that environmental stressors cause the body to trade-off growth in some tissues to protect key organs (e.g. the brain), although the mechanisms underlying these trade-offs, and their evolutionary significance, are not well understood.
I will investigate the nature and pattern of growth trade-offs between the limbs, trunk, head and organs by comparing the physical characteristics of children and their mothers living at high and low altitude in India. Understanding the relationship between limb proportions, organ sizes, body composition and the environment will help to clarify the nature and evolutionary basis of growth trade-offs in relation to environmental stressors. As maternal characteristics (e.g. height, weight) may also influence their child's early growth, this study will offer insight into whether adaptations in growth may be passed non-genetically across multiple generations. This research will advance our understanding of how the body adapts to environmental stress during development.
Young, Bonnie Nadyne, U. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM - To aid research on 'Effects of Genetic Ancestry and Socio-Cultural Factors on Susceptibility to Tuberculosis in Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Keith L. Hunley
BONNIE N. YOUNG, then a student at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, received funding in October 2009, to aid research on 'Effects of Genetic Ancestry and Socio-Cultural Factors on Susceptibility to Tuberculosis in Mexico,' Supervised by Dr. Keith L. Hunley. Active tuberculosis (TB) varies substantially across regions and ethnic groups due to different genetic and environmental factors. Less TB among those with high European ancestry suggest better socioeconomic conditions and possibly innate resistance, although the impact of ancestry remains unresolved. This study assesses the effect of genetic ancestry on active TB, and the interactions between ancestry and contextual factors. Fieldwork occurred over six months at the UANL Hospital in Monterrey, Mexico. A case-control study was conducted among 189 individuals with active pulmonary TB (97 cases), and latent TB infection (92 controls). Data were collected from interviews, mouthwash samples, and medical chart reviews. Cases and controls were similar in distributions of sex, indigenous ethnicity, marital status, and prevalence of chronic conditions. Cases had a significantly lower socioeconomic status, despite recruitment from similar populations. Smoking was higher among cases than controls (13.8 vs. 3.9 average pack years; p=0.01), as was diabetes (29.9% vs. 8.7%) and alcoholism (13.4% vs. 1.1%). Proportions of genetic ancestry (measured by ancestry informative markers) are pending, but will be added to final regression models, along with significant contextual factors. This project will elucidate the interactions of genetic and socio·cultuml correlates of active TB in an urban Mexican population.
Garruto, Dr. Ralph M., State U. of New York, Binghamton, NY - To aid research on 'Longitudinal Studies of Health Transition and Culture Change in Vanuatu'
DR. RALPH M. GARRUTO, State University of New York, Binghamton, New York, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Longitudinal Studies of Health Transition and Culture Change in Vanuatu.' Health burdens are changing in developing countries worldwide. Whereas chronic diseases such as hypertension and obesity were once primarily diseases of industrial countries, these now represent major health concerns in the developing world. Vanuatu, a South Pacific nation of 68 inhabited islands, is currently experiencing this change in disease patterns, or 'health transition.' Comparing chronic disease risk and population characteristics among islands could help to clarify how health transitions develop, and the social, behavioral, and economic factors driving the change. From June-August 2011, nearly 2000 individuals from five islands participated in surveys of behavioral, nutritional and economic patterns and body measurements (such as height, weight, and body fat). Preliminary results indicate that health patterns change in ways specific to the behaviors and economic conditions of each island and the degree of outside influence, regardless of geographic remoteness. Chronic disease risk is also influenced by the risk of infectious diseases, which impact not only an individual's phenotype, but also behavioral and economic factors (such as growth of the tourism industry) that in turn affect the population's health. This project contributes to our understanding of human biological variation across geographical regions and the factors that determine health outcomes in Pacific Island populations.
Liebert, Melissa Ann, U. of Oregon, Eugene, OR - To aid research on 'Psychosocial Stress and Culture Change among Indigenous Amazonian Shuar: Integrating Developmental, Biological, and Cognitive Perspectives,' supervised by Dr. Lawrence S. Sugiyama
PROVIDE A GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF YOUR PROJECT IN PLAIN ENGLISH (UNFORMATTED -- WITHOUT BULLETS OR NUMBERED LISTS -- 200 WORD MAXIMUM).
Recent studies among indigenous populations suggest that psychosocial stress is an important pathway through which socioecological changes associated with market integration (MI) shape human biology. Surprisingly, however, little research has systematically investigated this topic. In particular, few studies have examined how factors associated with MI influence children's perceptions of the shifting cultural milieu and how these experiences become biologically embodied to impact stress, life history trade-offs, and health. Given that early life stress can induce enduring physiological dysregulation across multiple systems, research is greatly needed to capture the nuances of MI that affect developmental stress and long-term health.
To address these issues, this project will integrate methods from biological and cognitive anthropology with rich ethnographic data on culture change and perceptions of lifestyle success in order to elucidate how MI affects stress physiology and life history patterns among Indigenous Shuar children of Amazonian Ecuador. This study will examine these relationships among 200 children and adolescents from two communities experiencing varying degrees of MI by measuring two biomarker indices of psychosocial stress [diurnal cortisol profiles and allostatic load (including measures of cortisol, Epstein-Barr virus antibodies, C-reactive protein, and growth)], cognitive models of lifestyle success, and lifestyle data indicative of MI exposure.
Quinn, Dr. Elizabeth Anne, Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Milk with Altitude: Investigations Into Milk Composition and Physiology Among Tibetans'
Preliminary abstract: Plasticity during postnatal development likely played a key role in human adaptation, providing a way for populations to adapt to challenging ecological conditions at a fast pace while the genotype 'caught up'. This may have been especially important for human expansion into unusually stressful environments such as high altitude. High altitude populations typically have increased basal metabolic rates, possibly limiting the energy available for growth and reproduction. Among high altitude adapted populations, such as Tibetans, there is evidence for chronic stunting suggesting that energy investment in linear growth but not adiposity may be reduced. However, the incidence of wasting is much lower, possibly reflecting a prioritization of adipose tissue as a buffer against cold or altitude associated stress during infancy. During the postnatal period, human milk may provide organizational signals to the infant as a means of facilitating phenotypic adaptation to the environment. Human milk has never been studied among high altitude populations and may be a possible postnatal developmental signal promoting increased adiposity and decreased linear growth in these populations. This study will investigate milk hormones, macronutrients, and energy in a sample of 100+ ethnic Tibetans living in six villages from 7500 ft. to 12500 ft. Maternal reproductive histories will be collected and used to investigate reproductive investment. Anthropometrics on mothers and infants, milk samples, and fingerprick blood spots will also be collected and used to test for an association between maternal body composition, circulating hormone levels, milk composition, and infant attained size for age by altitude and nutritional status of mothers. This study is the first study of human milk among a high altitude population and has the potential to provide insights into the role of human milk part of human adaptation.
George, Ian Douglas, U. of Missouri, Columbia, MO - To aid research on 'Mapping the Cerebrocerebellar Language Network and its Role in Human Neuroevolution,' supervised by Dr. Kristina Aldridge
Preliminary abstract: Language is arguably the key factor that has influenced the evolution of the human brain. It is likely that increased language capabilities in humans are associated with both gross morphological changes as well as with novel neural networks. Endocasts, our only direct evidence of the brains of human ancestors, have revealed a disproportionate increase in size of the cerebellum relative to the cerebrum. Moreover, it is thought the cerebellum plays an important role in modulating language production through neural networks with the cerebellum. This project seeks to map the connectivity between the cerebrum and cerebellum and establish the pattern of the language-specific cerebrocerebellar network (LSCN) in the adult human brain thought the use cutting-edge in vivo quantitative imaging techniques. The proposed research will be the first to verify that the cerebellum is a key component of the language network in the brain. In addition, the proposed research will provide critical data on how much can be known about language from the study of fossil brain endocasts by testing the assumption that surface morphology reflects the architecture of underlying brain structure, enabling us to test the hypotheses that make predictions about the behavior of fossil hominin ancestors from endocast data.
Madimenos, Dr. Felicia, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY - To aid engaged activities on 'Engaging Shuar Communities Through Collaborative Health Education: Enhancing Participant Agency in Indigenous Health Research,' 2013, Morona-Santiago, Ecuador
DR. FELICIA MADIMENOS, Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York, received an Engaged Anthropology Grant in February 2013 to aid 'Engaging Shuar Communities through Collaborative Health Education: Enhancing Participant Agency in Indigenous Health Research in Morona-Santiago, Ecuador.' Misinformation regarding the causes and prevention of illness/disease and miscommunication between local health care providers and patients present hurdles for the anthropologist/health researcher working in a non-Western context. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance for anthropologists to consciously bridge communication barriers by creating ample time for dialog with the participant and translating health data into an accessible form. The Engaged Anthropology Grant provided an opportunity to reconsider how the grantee conducts health research with indigenous Amazonian Shuar communities in Ecuador and achieved the following goals: 1) to develop family health days for participants permitting more individualized discussions of health (these meetings also created a platform for dissemination of population-specific health materials); 2) to facilitate a community-level workshop led by a Shuar colleague/health promoter that focused on family planning options; and 3) to participate in community-wide presentations that highlighted common health issues among Shuar and introduced potential health resources in the participants' own community. These platforms emphasize that in order for health information to remain relevant over the long-term, anthropologists must develop opportunities that empower communities by making accessible the knowledge and information necessary for participants to participate in, and affect informed decisions about their health.