Research Summary

My research interests span behavioral ecology, demography, comparative life history and reproductive ecology, the evolution of juvenility, cooperative breeding, intergenerational transfers and the interaction between economic and demographic transitions. Each of my three field sites in small scale horticultural and hunter-gatherer societies include student involvement and opportunities for graduate students to pursue their own research projects.


  • Ph.D, Anthropology, Univerisity of New Mexico
  • Postdoctoral fellow, Demography, UC Berkeley


My research focuses on the evolution of human sociality and behavior, with particular interests in cooperative breeding, parenting and childhood. The question that unifies my research is why do humans have the unparalleled capacity for population growth compared to closely related species? My current field work in a traditional Maya village in the Yucatan, Mexico has focused on documenting and modeling children’s time allocation, juvenile cooperation, intergenerational resource flows, female energetics, and high fertility in a pretransitional population. My on-going research among the Pumé, a group of South American mobile hunter-gatherers addresses questions about children’s growth, development and reproductive strategies, and the effects that seasonal resource availability has on fertility and child mortality. I also collaborate with conservation biologists and primatologists working in the Madagascar highlands. I have held academic appointments at Stony Brook University and Harvard University before coming to Utah in 2012.

Research interests

   •  The evolution of childhood
   •  The evolution cooperation
   •  Cooperative breeding 
   •  Comparative life history, demography & reproductive ecology
   •  Forager and farmer ethnography
   •  Demographic and economic transitions
Field Sites & Projects
Yucatec Maya Longitudinal Life History Project 
The Maya are traditional farmers living in the interior of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.  Field research over the past 25 years has focused on childhood, cooperation, female energetics and fertility, and more recently the in situ emergence of inequality.   In collaboration with Dr. Amanda Veile (Purdue University) we are currently documenting the relationship between the introduction of medicalized birth, changes in the microbiome and body fat composition.   

Pumé Hunter-Gatherer Subsistence & Life History Project

The Savanna Pumé are mobile hunter-gatherers living on the savannas of west-central Venezuala.   In collaboration with my husband, Russell Greaves we have collected reproductive history, genealogical, anthropometric, time allocation, economic and kinship data spanning more than 25 years.  Our research has focused on fertility, mortality & growth in epidemiologically and nutritionally challenging environments, and on hunter-gatherer subsistence, food sharing & social networks.