About me

Very Large Array


I’m an assistant professor at the University of Kansas, in the department of Anthropology. I study the genomes of contemporary and ancient peoples in order to uncover details of human prehistory. You can learn more about my scientific publications and credentials at my CV here.  I’m also interested in many topics involving public science literacy (including vaccination, genetics, race, personal ancestry testing, and pseudoarchaeology) which you can read about on this blog, as well as at my twitter and public Facebook  pages, and the writing I do for The Guardian science blog The Past and The Curious.

107 thoughts on “About me

  1. rolfaa December 31, 2015 / 2:55 am

    I find comments like the one below here typical of science skepticism:
    This site comprises the same “logic” and “science” worldview that says GMO’s are great and won’t hurt you; fluoride (poison) in your water is good for you; mammograms (radiation) can’t cause cancer (until they admitted that they do…) and nuclear energy will solve all our problems (except for the weapons and the reactor meltdowns and…). Just another part of the same system which currently brings you the NSA, the CIA, ad infinitum. And you get the pleasure of paying for it all… Total insanity.

    Gene modification is what animal husbandry and agriculture has been doing ever since man began using nature in a conscious manner – and even before that, inadvertently.

    Simply by causing selection of certain, desirable traits to create crops or animals better suited to how we want them to be like.

    Take all of agriculture and farming: Many of the species we culture today still exist in their original, wild version. Dogs from Volwes, Cows from Aurox (Aurochs) and so on. Fine examples of what our selection from desirable traits have done. The same applies to nature: for any species, within populatons a process of selection is constantly going on. It is expressed by the term “differential reproductive succes”, i.e. the degree of how success in mating and producing offspring impact on the relative preponderance of traits advantegeous for survival and reproduction. It seems to me that the process is more like “disposal of the less fit” than “survival of the fittest”.

    A simple and easily understood factor like predation is one among all the factors in the process of ‘natural selection’. Carnivores are a threat to their prey – but they also contribute to the health and strength of the species they prey on. Like everywhere in nature, no more energy is spent than required to reach the goal. Therefore a lion will go for the sick and weakest, the easiest to catch from a flock.

    • Uncle Ron February 13, 2016 / 2:32 pm

      “It seems to me that the process is more like “disposal of the less fit” than “survival of the fittest”’. An interesting perspective, but “disposal” makes the process sound deliberate. The lion “deliberately” kills the gazelle, but in the absence of lions I wouldn’t say that the less-fit gazelles “deliberately” die sooner than the more-fit during, say, a drought. However, evolution is at work either way.

      On a lighter note: a bit of “philosophy” from a silly movie (Tremors V, I believe). The “wizened trail guide” character offers this take on predation and survival. “In the morning in Africa the gazelle wakes up and says All I have to do today is outrun the slowest one in my herd and I won’t have to worry about being eaten. The lion wakes up and says All I have to do today is outrun the slowest gazelle in the herd and I won’t have to worry about eating. Either way, in Africa when you wake up you had better be running.”


  2. David Lloyd-Jones February 27, 2016 / 2:18 am

    Aha! Jennifer. Found it. Under “Vita.” How clever.

    Anyway, yes, good stuff — and I have good memories of Lawrence, Kansas, In the 1960s, which I guess sorta dates me.

    You’ve bitten off a large interesting continent, within your ambitiously chosen universe of irrational thought, Much good available to be done, much wickedness to be hosed down.

    I don’t think you’re one of the less slow antelopes. Methinks you’re one of the faster lionesses (in a species where the females seem to do most of the everything worthwhile…)



  3. Anonymous May 11, 2016 / 3:43 pm


    • Chris May 11, 2016 / 6:44 pm

      Why bother? You’ll just call them lies. The use of ALL CAPS kind hints that you do not have an open mind to anything that goes against your beliefs.

      • Steve Scott February 2, 2017 / 2:22 pm

        Good point. Those that write in caps think it somehow lends impact to their posts. It’s like shouting.

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