LAK
  • Chair Department of Anthroplogy
  • Professor, Anthropology Department

Research Statement

I am a biological anthropologist who uses molecular genetics and endocrine data to study human and non-human primate biology and behavior.  My research career began with the development of novel methods for studying molecular genetic diversity and these have since achieved widespread adoption in studies of the effects of natural selection on the immunologically important major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes, to examine the antiquity and evolution of particular MHC loci and to evaluate the relationship between habitat, MHC genes and disease. Most of my research has focused on the influence of demography and environment on genetic diversity and in turn how such genetic factors influence inter-individual differences in health, reproductive success and behavior in humans and other primates.  More recently, I have added the study of hormones, such as cortisol and testosterone and also progesterone, to better understand variation in parasite load, disease susceptibility and reproductive success in humans and non-human primates. I have published extensively on genetics, hormones, health and behavior in many top-ranked journals.  In July 2013, I moved my Primate Immunogenetics and Molecular Ecology laboratory from Cambridge (UK) to the Department of Anthropology at the University of Utah, where I continue to mentor undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral researchers and serve as Department Chair.

Research Keywords

  • Genetics
  • Immunogenetics
  • Primatology
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Behavioral Ecology
  • Hormones

Presentations

  • Plenary Speaker: The ABC’s of MHC: What are major histocompatibility complex genes and why are they relevant in the study of ecology, evolution and behavior? Northwest Evolution, Ecology and Human Behavior Symposium. Boise, Idaho. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 04/22/2016.
  • N Torosin (presenter), K Fischer, J Round, LA Knapp (2016) A comparative study of human and howler monkey Toll-Like Receptor 7 under the selective pressure of yellow fever virus. American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Poster, Presented, 04/2016.
  • Invited Seminar: What are major histocompatibility complex genes and why are they relevant for primate health and disease resistance? Department of Botany and Zoology, Masaryk University, Czech Republic. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 06/16/2015.
  • Setchell, J.M. (presenter), S. Vaglio, K.M. Abbott, J. and L.A. Knapp Odour signals sex, rank and genotype in an Old World monkey. Conference Paper: Behaviour Meets Biochemistry: Animals Making Sense of Molecules Making Scents 2014, Volume: 5. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 05/2014.
  • Invited Seminar: Human & Non-Human Primate Evolution: Studying genes, hormones and behavior. Department of Psychology, Developmental Psychology brown bag, University of Utah. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 04/11/2014.
  • Setchell, J.M. (presenter), M.J. Adams and L.A. Knapp Female mate choice in mandrills (M. sphinx). American Journal of Physical Anthropology, (S53):236. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 04/2014.
  • Genetics and individual identity. Department of Anthropology, University College London, United Kingdom. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 11/2013.
  • What are major histocompatibility complex genes and why are they relevant to studies of primate behaviour? Italian Primatological Association Congress, Asti, Italy. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 04/2013.
  • How selection shapes primate major histocompatibility complex (MHC) polymorphism. Department of Biology, University of Alabama, Birmingham . Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 02/2013.

Grants, Contracts & Research Gifts

  • HUMAN AND NON-HUMAN PRIMATES--. PI: KNAPP,LESLIE ANN. UNIVERSITY OF UTAH RESEARCH FO, 07/01/2015 - 06/30/2017. Total project budget to date: $33,340.00

Research Equipment and Testing Expertise

  • I oversee a fully equipped molecular genetics lab with with standard molecular genetics equipment, including sterile PCR workstations, thermal cyclers, equipment for gel analyses, incubators, centrifuges, ultra-pure water filtration system and documentation systems. The laboratory also includes equipment for endocrine (ELISA-based) assays.

Geographical Regions of Interest

  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Gabon
  • Mexico
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria
  • United Republic of Tanzania

Publications

  • Mate-guarding by male mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) is associated with female MHC genotype. Behavioral Ecology 27(6): 1756-1766. Published, 07/2016.
  • Dunn, JC, LB Halenar, J Cristobal-Azkarate, D Reby, D Sykes, S Dengg, W Tecumseh Fitch and LA Knapp (2015) Evolutionary Trade-Off between Vocal Tract and Testes Dimensions in Howler Monkeys. Current Biology, 25(21): 2839-2844. Published, 10/22/2015.
  • Setchell J.M., T. Smith and L.A. Knapp (2015) Androgens in a female primate: Relationships with reproductive status, age, dominance rank, fetal sex and secondary sexual color. Physiology and Behavior, 147(1):245-254. Published, 05/01/2015.
  • Badhan, A., C.A. Eichstaedt, N. Almond, L.A. Knapp and N.J. Rose Analysis of full-length mitochondrial DNA D-loop sequences from Macaca fascicularis of different geographical origin reveals novel haplotypes. Journal of Medical Primatology. Published, 02/2015.
  • Sick C., A.J. Carter, H.H. Marshall, L.A. Knapp, T. Dabelsteen and G. Cowlishaw G. Evidence for varying social strategies across the day in chacma baboons. Biology Letters, 10 (7), 20140249. Published, 07/2014.
  • Setchell, J.M., S. Vaglio, K.M. Abbott, J. and L.A. Knapp (2014) Odour signals sex, rank and genotype in an Old World monkey. Conference Paper: Behaviour Meets Biochemistry: Animals Making Sense of Molecules Making Scents 2014, Volume: 5. Published, 02/01/2014.
  • Fox, M, Berzuini C, Knapp LA. Cumulative estrogen exposure, number of menstrual cycles, and Alzheimer's risk in a cohort of British women. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 38(12):2973-82. Published, 12/2013.
  • Dunn, J.C., A. Shedden-Gonzalez, J. Cristobal-Azkarate, L. CCortes-Ortiz, E. Rodriguez-Luna and L.A. Knapp Limited genetic diversity in the critically endangered howler monkey (Alouatta paliatta Mexicana) in the Selva Zoque, Mexico. Primates, 55 (2), 155-160. Published, 11/2013.
  • Dunn JC, Shedden-González A, Cristóbal-Azkarate J, Cortés-Ortiz L, Rodríguez-Luna E, Knapp LA. Limited genetic diversity in the critically endangered Mexican howler monkey (Alouatta palliata mexicana) in the Selva Zoque, Mexico. Primates. In press, 11/2013.
  • Setchell JM, Abbott KM, Gonzalez JP, Knapp LA. Testing for post-copulatory selection for major histocompatibility complex genotype in in a semi-free-ranging primate population. Am J Primatol. 75(10):1021-31. Published, 10/2013.
  • Knapp, LA. Molecular genetic tools for evaluating the consequences of habitat fragmentation. LK Marsh and C Chapman (eds.) Primates in Fragments II. New York:Springer, pp.389-398. Published, 09/2013.
  • Fox M, Berzuini C, Knapp LA. Maternal breastfeeding history and Alzheimer's disease risk. J Alzheimers Dis. 2013;37(4):809-21. Published, 08/2013.
  • Briceno, C, Knapp, LA, Silva, A, Paredes, J, Avendano, I, Vargas, A, Sotomayor, J, Vila, AR. Detecting endangered huemul deer population increase following removal of cattle and poaching in periglacial habitats of coastal Patagonia, Chile. Oryx, 47(02):273-279. Published, 04/2013.
  • Piel AK, Stewart FA, Pintea L, Li Y, Ramirez MA, Loy DE, Crystal PA, Learn GH, Knapp LA, Sharp PM, Hahn BH. The malagarasi river does not form an absolute barrier to chimpanzee movement in Western Tanzania. PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58965. Published, 03/11/2013.
  • Fox M, Knapp LA, Andrews PW, Fincher CL. Hygiene and the world distribution of Alzheimer's disease: Epidemiological evidence for a relationship between microbial environment and age-adjusted disease burden. Evol Med Public Health. 2013 Jan;2013(1):173-86. Published, 01/2013.
  • Huchard E, Charpentier, MJE, Marshall, H, King, A, Knapp, LA, Cowlishaw, G. Paternal effects on access to resources in a promiscuous primate society. Behavioral Ecology, 7(1):229-236. Published, 11/2012.