Research Summary

I study human impacts on environments and their human outcomes. Andrea Brunelle (Geography) and I are examining the interaction of population, land use, and ecological change at the Preclassic Maya center of El Mirador, Guatemala. I also study the impact of cycles of epidemic disease on human demography and life history. This research has two goals: 1) to examine epidemic disease impacts on Holocene demography and life history, and 2) to address general problems in prehistoric demography.


  • B.A., Anthropology, McGill University
  • Ph.D., Anthropology and Demography, Pennsylvania State University


I am a bioarchaeologist/paleodemographer interested in relationships between people and their environments across time.  I study both how humans have impacted their environments and the return effects for people, especially as they are expressed through ancient disease patterns. For many years, I have been exploring the impact of cycles of epidemic disease on human demography and life history in the Holocene (e.g Paine 2000; Bentley et al. 2002; Paine and Boldsen 2002, 2006; Paine and Storey 2005, 2006, in press).  This effort has two goals: first, to examine the specific question of epidemic disease impact on Holocene demography and life histories, and second, to use this specific problem to elucidate and address general problems in the field of paleodemography.  I have also used demographic studies based on ancient settlement patterns to explore the ecological impact of population growth and land use on the Classic Maya collapse at Copan, Honduras.