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Robbins Schug Lab: Research Interests

My research is focused on biological, developmental, cultural, and structural determinants of health in the context of past environmental and climate changes. As a bioarchaeologist, I combine paleoclimate data with evidence from archaeological human skeletal populations to assess human demographic and epidemiological patterns over the past 12,000 years. In addition to the effects of Rapid Climate Change (RCC) events in the Holocene, I have done research on health impacts of broader environmental trends—agricultural production, rapid urbanization, and environmental degradation. My work underscores the profound impacts of diverse historical and sociocultural circumstances on recent human evolution and highlights the importance of social inequality in determining the strategies employed by past people in the face of climate change, the experience of resilience, and the long-term health and demographic consequences of these choices. Here is a recent talk describing this research. 

My broader research interests include ethics of curation and use of human skeletons in research and teaching (here is a link to a recent talk on this subject at Duke evolutionary Anthropology); human skeletal and dental anatomy, biology, and histology; paleopathology and paleoepidemiology; and forensic anthropological methods. A description of lab facilities and resources can be found here

Describes research on Bone Biology, Histology, and Pathology in the Robbins Schug lab
Describes research on Oral Biology, Histology and Pathology in the Robbins Schug Lab
Parallel Lines
Described Research on Enamel Isotopes, Climate History, and Human Societies in the Robbins Schug Lab
Graphic Spiral
Students can contribute to research in a variety of ways
First cohort of students in the lab (Spring 2023)
A Picture of Spring 2023 Lab Members

I started at UNCG Biology in fall 2022. This is a picture of the very first cohort of students in the lab.  They started it all!

Top Row Left to Right : Annisianna, Tyra, Noemi, Cameron, Gwen, Charlotte, Desani, and Maisha 

Front Row Left to Right: Eileen, Lelise, Ruby, Irena, Tiara, and Laura (not shown: Jasmine Sprigle)

Current and Ongoing Research Projects

  • Climate and environmental change, human Holocene population responses, health impacts, and their implications for contemporary global warming

  • Dental histology, cementum annulations, and their medico-legal applications

  • Bone histology, human and non-human microstructural variation, applications in pathology

  • Skeletal and dental pathology as an analytical tool for understanding biocultural adaptations in the past 

  • Human and Mycobacterial pathogen migrations and co-evolution in Bronze Age Asia

  • History of medicine, nutritional insufficiency, and Tuberculosis in Modern Italy

  • Migration and Adaptation to Climate Change in Bronze Age Oman

  • Ethical implications of the curation and use of human skeletons in teaching and research

Exciting Opportunity

New in 2024! UNCG Biology has partnered with the Department of Biology and the Anthropology Museum at the University of Padua to offer a field school in the History of Medicine, Ethics, and Paleopathology. Join us for an immersive experience in the fascinating world of biology and anthropology. Explore the rich history of medicine, delve into ethical considerations, and study ancient diseases through paleopathology. Expand your knowledge and gain valuable insights in this unique program while earning 6 credits of 400-level Biology and doing research.

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