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Stress and Human Evolution

Speaker(s): Zaneta Thayer

New York, NY

April 5, 2017 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


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How does stress “get under the skin” to influence health? What about our evolutionary history causes our bodies to respond in this way? This talk will explore these questions by describing the biological mechanisms through which early life stress exposures influence later life biology and health. Data from New Zealand and the United States will be utilized to investigate the biological impacts of exposure to stressors such as trauma, poverty, and racial discrimination. In addition, we will discuss the similarities and differences in biological responses to early life stress in a broad range of species. This research suggests that evolutionarily novel stress exposures in contemporary environments may have maladaptive impacts on our biology, which in turn may shape disparities in health.

This talk is presented in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History with support from Ann and Gordon Getty and Camilla and George Smith.


April 5, 2017
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Event Category:


The Leakey Foundation


American Museum of Natural History
56 West 81st St.
New York, NY 10024 United States
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Zaneta Thayer

Zaneta Thayer is an assistant professor of biological anthropology at Dartmouth College. She graduated with a BA in anthropology and biology from Dartmouth College and earned her PhD in biological anthropology at Northwestern University. Her research is focused on understanding how early life environments shape patterns of human biological variation. In addition, she is interested in exploring the biological mechanisms through which environmentally induced variation can shape evolutionary change. Her overall research goal is to contribute findings of interest to evolutionary anthropologists as well as public health professionals.

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