Curriculum Vitae Biosketch

  • Chair Department of Anthroplogy
  • Professor, Anthropology Department


Research Summary

My research primarily focuses on major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes, which are critical for immune response. I aim to determine how MHC genes vary in humans and primates and to understand how MHC diversity is generated and maintained via disease resistance, sexual selection, inbreeding avoidance and reproductive failure, which has implications for understanding evolution and life history. I also study other genetic polymorphisms like dopamine receptor genes and microsatellite loci.

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, Interest Level: 5
  • Immunogenetics, Interest Level: 5
  • Primatology, Interest Level: 4
  • Evolutionary Biology, Interest Level: 4
  • Behavioral Ecology, Interest Level: 3
  • Hormones, Interest Level: 2

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.