My work at the university of Missouri centers around the analysis of a database of previously uncontacted Yanomamo Indians living primarily in Venezuela that was collected by Napoleon Chagnon. Current projects and planned publications include an analysis of the fitness consequences of cross cousin marriages, the effects of marriage networks on alliances between patrilines, the fitness outcomes of sex biased parental investment, and a consideration of the effect of marriage, average relatedness between individuals and violence on the size of Yanomamo villages.
My thesis work contributes to our understanding of basic evolutionary forces that affect fertility, lifespan and sex ratios. This research contributes to our understanding of population growth and its effects on resource availability, government policy and public health. Total fertility rates (TFR) are the key figure that demographers use to predict population growth rates. Using evolutionary theory and the impact of life history traits to improve these estimates will illuminate our understanding of how major demographic changes affect both culture and society, and vice versa.
In addition to this work, I am also interested in the ultimate and proximate functions of humor. Laughter is a cultural universal and its importance in communication is widely acknowledged across an array of disciplines. Its function and evolutionary import, however, are not yet well understood. I am interested in how and why humor has attained such a critical role across human societies and social groups and how humor may help to establish credibility and trust amongst unrelated individuals.