Lab Members


Abigail Bigham
Assistant Professor of Anthropology








Vince Battista
Graduate Student

I’m a third-year doctoral student using ancient DNA and computer modeling to study geographically isolated hominids, human extremophiles, and the phenomenon of ‘niche construction.’ My research focuses on the inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego and has three major themes: (1) prehistoric population movements across the Andes, (2) adaptive introgression, and (3) the role of climate change in driving biological and cultural evolution. Broadly, my interests are gene-culture co-evolution, the conservation applications of genome editing, and the refinement of experimental and laboratory approaches to bioarchaeology.




Paloma Contreras
Graduate Student

Paloma is a first-year graduate student in Biological Anthropology.


ObedObed Garcia
Graduate Student

Hello! I’m Obed, a sixth-year anthropology graduate student. Broadly stated, my interests lie at exploring how our human history influences our genome that may make us more or less susceptible to modern infectious diseases. Applying frameworks from evolutionary theory will help us better understand current issues of health and disease while simultaneously providing us a glimpse of our evolutionary past. Currently, I am working with Mesoamerican populations to detect signatures of natural selection in immune response genes. I will genotype markers found to have unique signatures in a cohort of participants infected with Dengue virus to assess whether there is an association with clinical manifestations and variability due to infection.

Elizabeth Werren
Graduate Student

I’m Liz. I am a third-year Ph.D. student in Biological Anthropology. I graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a BA in Anthropology and Archaeology. My past research experience includes genotype-phenotype associations in pigmentary traits in admixed human populations in the U.S., and assessing the role of evolutionary convergence of dark skin pigmentation in Island Melanesian and African populations. My current research interests include natural selection in human populations and infectious disease resistance.


Lab Alumni



Abagail Breidenstein
Graduate Student

Abagail completed her PhD in Biological Anthropology in 2019. Her dissertation explored identity and migration in Ancient Nubia. She is now a post-doctoral scholar at the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich.





Ainash Childebayeva
Graduate Student

Ainash completed her PhD in Biological Anthropology in 2019. Her dissertation looked at epigenetic modifications in response to high-altitude hypoxia among Andean Quechua highlanders. She is now a post-doctoral scholar at the Max Plank Institute in Jena.








Jenna Isherwood
Undergraduate student and research technician
Graduate student at Wayne State University

Sarah Burke
Undergraduate researcher
University of Texas Genetic Counseling Program

Megan Harrison
Undergraduate researcher

Lauren Heinonen
Undergraduate researcher

Timothy Brash
Undergraduate researcher
Medical Student at Wayne State university






Dan Whorf
Undergraduate student
Medical Student at University of Illinois

TJ Fagan
Undergraduate Student

Katarina Evans
Undergraduate researcher
CUNY graduate program in Anthropology

Katarina Kraus
Undergraduate researcher

Sebastian Lyos
Undergraduate researcher

Fatima Memon
Undergraduate researcher

Pranavi Midathada
Undergraduate researcher

Alex Parks
Undergraduate researcher

Lauren Payne
Undergraduate researcher

Molly Starchuski
Undergraduate researcher
Peace Corps Volunteer

Rachel Taylor
Undergraduate researcher

Kinsey Vear
Undergraduate researcher