My research is interdisciplinary, pulling on methods and theory from evolutionary anthropology, demography, and population health science to address questions relevant to global health and development. At the base of all my work is a desire to understand variability in human health, family structures, and life transitions into marriages, parenthood, and adulthood. Using both quantitative and qualitative research tools, I have explored these topics in isolation and in relation to one another.
Current and previous research topics include:
RELIGION, FAMILY SIZE, AND CHILD HEALTH
I currently work on an international team exploring the evolutionary dynamics of religion, family size and child health and success in six settings spread across South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and North America. For more information, please visit the project website.
'CHILD MARRIAGE' & WELLBEING
My research with the Applied Evolutionary Anthropology Lab and partners at the Tanzanian National Institute for Medical Research explores girls' and women's transitions to marriage in a rural but rapidly urbanizing area in Northwestern Tanzania. With a mixed methods approach, I seek to understand locally held views on marriage - its costs and benefits - as well as the implications of marital timings for women's wellbeing and health.
I approach this topic both as an evolutionary anthropologist interested in understanding how behavioral variation and health is patterned, and as a population health scientist interested in engaging with and interrogating often untested assumptions at the base of international campaigns to end 'child marriage' (i.e. marriages before age 18 years).
REPRODUCTIVE DECISION-MAKING & SOCIAL SUPPORT
Humans are generally understood to be cooperative breeders, meaning that we’re able to achieve high fertility relative to other great apes due to support parents receive in raising their children, i.e. alloparental care. A basic assumption of this understanding is that, all else equal, parents who receive higher levels of alloparental support will have higher fitness. I seek to understand how the relationship between alloparental support and women’s fertility plays out in low-fertility, high-income settings.
IMPACT EVALUATION OF HEALTH INTERVENTIONS
In 2015 the PEPFAR (the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) rolled out the DREAMS partnership in 10 sub-Saharan African countries. Through a package of interventions, DREAMS ambitiously aimed to reduce HIV incidence among adolescent girls and young women by 40% in 2 years. As a part of an international team, I supported an impact evaluation of DREAMS in four sites in South Africa, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. Preexisting longitudinal data and newly collected cohort data were leveraged to produce a robust evaluation in the absence of an RCT.