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Ben Davies

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Ph.D. Geography & Anthropology, 2018 - University of Auckland

Mobility, population dynamics, and the formation of archaeological landscapes. 

Ben’s research interests lie at the intersection of mobility, population dynamics, climate, and the formation of archaeological landscapes. His current role is part of an international, collaborative project funded by the NSF and focused on the relationships between movement, fire, and climate change in the Cape Floristic Region on the western coast of South Africa. This region, inhabited by humans and their ancestors for over a million years, is a hotspot for biodiversity, and the topic is important for better understanding the history of coupled natural and human systems worldwide. Ben uses computational models in this research to simulate human-environment interactions and the formation of their archaeological signals over different timescales. Ben contributes to several interdisciplinary projects, including modeling the food-energy-water nexus among mobile pastoralists in Kenya, building computer games for climate change adaptation in New Zealand’s coastal communities, and using paleoclimate modeling to understand ancient seafaring in the Pacific Islands. He is also an active member of the Computer Applications in Archaeology (CAA) group. He has conducted fieldwork in Australia, New Zealand, and French Polynesia.


Hazel Byrne

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Ph.D., Evolutionary Biology, University of Salford, Manchester, UK

Molecular primatology, evolutionary genomics of Neotropical primates, and urban biodiversity

Hazel's research interests are centred in molecular primatology and evolutionary genomics of Neotropical primates; using genetic/genomic data to probe their evolution and explore the origins and maintenance of diversity. Much of her research involves the use of molecular techniques to shed light on the evolution and diversification of Neotropical primate lineages, some of which are strikingly understudied. This research often ties into addressing questions surrounding taxonomic classification, biogeographical history, hybridisation, speciation, and adaptive evolution. Her most notable research subjects to date are the titi monkeys (subfamily Callicebinae), but she is also currently involved in projects on squirrel and capuchin monkeys.

A second major area of research interest surrounds the evolutionary trajectory of capuchin monkeys, which are characterised by behavioural diversity (and flexibility), complex social environments, and many striking similarities to Hominidae including social conventions, local culture, high dexterity, delayed life history, tool use, and extractive foraging. She is currently involved in multi-disciplinary collaborations aimed at gaining insight into the behavioural flexibility of capuchins and the evolution of a distinct behavioural repertoire and cognitive capacities from other Neotropical primates. A third major area of active research interest relates to the impact of urbanisation on biodiversity through “LA Urban Mammals Project”. This project involves studying population genomics through RADseq to shed light on genetic diversity and gene flow of mammalian species within the megacity of Los Angeles.


Joe Hackman

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Ph.D. Anthropology, 2019 - Arizona State University

Evolutionary perspectives on global health disparities and understanding social and demographic consequences of economic development.

Joe is an evolutionary anthropologist and population health scientist interested in how insights from human’s evolutionary history can help us understand global health disparities.  His work focuses on understanding disparities in human growth and reproduction, particularly in the context of economic development and global market integration.  Based on fieldwork in Guatemala, he studies recent changes in reproductive and parenting decision-making among indigenous populations in Latin America. Additionally, he utilizes existing demographic and health monitoring surveys to map the global range of variation in human growth and reproduction and the extent to which these are influenced by social and economic factors. He is currently involved in a project documenting the longitudinal impact of market integration and subsistence diversification on growth and reproduction in Maya village in the Yucatan, Mexico.  This NSF Funded project draws on over 30 years’ worth of economic and demographic data to trace the development of reproductive and wealth inequality over the course of increasing access to global markets and wage-labor opportunities.  



Postdoctoral Research Associate

Ph.D. Anthropology, 2019 - University of Utah

Fieldwork in the four-corners region of the US with Native communities reliant on firewood. 

Kate's current research focuses on how human economic decisions contribute to ecological disturbance regimes. Most of her work focuses on this process in the prehistory of the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau and employs archaeological and paleoecological data. She conducts fieldwork in the four-corners region of the US with Native communities reliant on firewood. Firewood, the majority of which is harvested from federal public lands, is an important resource for people living on the Navajo and Ute Mountain Ute reservations in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. Many households in these communities rely primarily on firewood for cooking, heating, and ceremonial purposes. As part of an interdisciplinary NSF-funded project, Kate gathers information from firewood collectors and consumers in an effort to understand the relationship between socio-economic status, distance to woodland resources, cooperation, and other factors that contribute to how firewood use varies by household.

Kate also enjoys developing curricula that utilizes research as a teaching tool and is always on the lookout for new science outreach opportunities. She is currently developing such opportunities at the Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa, a field station operated by the University of Utah near Moab.

Interests: Archaeology, paleoecology, ethnoarchaeology, palynology, Behavioral Ecology, ecological disturbance, anthropogenic fire, science outreach and education.

Weston McCool

weston mccool

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Ph.D. Anthropology, 2020 - University of California, Santa Barbara

Archaeology, Paleoenvironmental and spatial modeling, isotope chemistry, osteology, behavioral ecology, conflict and cooperation, subsitence risk management

Weston’s research focuses on the strategies humans use to adapt to challenging circumstances. Whether resource-poor environments, climate change, population pressure, or conflict, people establish innovative, though not always successful, strategies for coping with hard times. Weston’s role as an archaeologist is to use our material remains to infer past behavior within a perspective of human ecology and evolution. His current research focuses on the socioenvironmental conditions that promote violence over cooperation, and the ways in which people adjust to living with conflict related risk. Weston also conducts research on subsistence risk management, patterns of regional settlement and abandonment, dietary reconstructions, and paleoecology. His research combines the use of archaeological and osteological data with environmental records and spatial models. He conducts fieldwork in the Nasca highlands of Peru and the North American Colorado Plateau.

Weston is currently PI on an NSF-funded project in the four-corners region of North America that investigates how climate change, population pressure, inequality, and environmental productivity interact to influence levels of conflict. This project is focused on developing scientific tools that can be used to establish what conditions consistently lead to conflict, with the ultimate goal of establishing models that can aid in conflict mitigation in the present and future. 

Interests: Archaeology, paleoenvironmental and spatial modeling, isotope chemistry, osteology, behavioral ecology, conflict and cooperation, subsistence risk management




Last Updated: 9/28/21