Graduate Anthropology Program

Health and Human Biology

Human Health and Biology

Program Overview

Biological anthropology at the University of Oklahoma is based on a biocultural framework focusing on human biology of living populations, skeletal biology, human genetics, and demography. Medical anthropology at the University of Oklahoma includes particular strengths in applied medical anthropology in Native North America; health systems and policy; research on the ethical, legal, and social implications of genomic knowledge; human development and health; and inquiry into the human experience of psychiatric distress and healing.

The Human Health and Biology Ph.D. track is an integrative Biological and Medical Anthropology program focusing on the adaptation, evolution, and behaviors of human ancestors and contemporary populations. The conceptual framework of this track is based on the holistic anthropological approach to understanding humanity with its global and temporal commonalities and its ecological, sociocultural, and biological diversity. Viewing the evolution of human beings through biological and cultural interactive processes provides an understanding of how humans adapted and are adapting to the dynamic world they evolved in the past and live in today. This unique perspective from biological and medical anthropology sets the foundation to studying the development of health, illness, disease, and death in both human history and the contemporary world. 

 Courses and Requirements

 The University of Oklahoma offers a broad range of graduate-level biological and medical anthropology courses including special topics courses and seminars. Please see the OU course catalog for additional anthropology courses. Please click here to see the courses offered during the current and upcoming semester. Ph.D. students in Anthropology's Human Health and Biology track take core courses in biological anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, and sociocultural anthropology, if they have not already done so in their Master's program. They also take an advanced theory course (Theoretical Foundations of Biological and Medical Anthropology), as well as two additional methods courses. Ph.D. requirements include 90 hours of credit (60 credit hours of course work plus 30 hours of dissertation research). For more information, please see the application procedures and graduate program requirements.

Community based health program, Peru Community based health education program, Peru

Cover of Skeletal Biology of the NY African Burial GroundSkeletal Biology of the New York African Burial Ground, ML Blakey and LM Rankin-Hill, eds.

Independent Research Projects

Thesis, dissertation, and other graduate-level research is conducted in consultation with the faculty. To aid in this process, each graduate student is assigned a faculty mentor upon entry into the program. Ultimately, this individual may or may not serve on or chair the student's graduate committee. Students have a wide variety of independent research opportunities in biological and medical anthropology for the Master's and Ph.D. programs. These include research at the Laboratories of Molecular Anthropology and Microbiome Research (LMAMR), the Center for Applied Social Research, the Oklahoma Archeological Survey, and the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, and research with Anthropology faculty members. 

Faculty Research Interests

  • Dr. Kermyt G. Anderson: Behavioral ecology and life history theory; nonpaternity and paternity confidence; HIV/AIDS; South Africa; anthropological demography; parental care and investment; education and schooling outcomes; kinship; biosocial anthropology.
  • Dr. Tassie Katherine Hirschfeld: Medical anthropology; political economy; inequality; post-socialism; Latin America; Cuba; the Andes.
  • Dr. Courtney Hofman: Ancient DNA; microbiomes, historical; ecology, coastal; archaeology, genomics, translocations, zooarchaeology, conservation genetics, high-throughput DNA sequencing, bioinformatics, human-environment interactions, archaeogenomics, domestication, and science education.
  • Dr. Lori L. Jervis: Medical anthropology; psychiatric anthropology; American Indians; aging; trauma; human-animal interactions.
  • Dr. Brian Kemp: Molecular anthropology; human genetics.
  • Dr. Cecil M. Lewis: Anthropological genetics; population genetics; peopling of South America; evolution of disease associated genetic variation.
  • Dr. Paul Spicer: Native North America; psychological and medical anthropology; child development; applied and policy studies in education, health care, and social services in tribal communities; addiction; obesity; genetics; human-animal interactions.
  • Dr. Tina Warinner: Human microbiome ecology in present and past populations; ancient biomolecules; methods development for analysis of highly degraded samples; paleodietary inference. (Dr. Warinner is currently on leave.)
  • Dr. Diane M. Warren: Human-animal interactions; dogs in prehistory; dog paleopathology and skeletal biology; human variation; American Midsouth and Southeast.