Graduate Students in Evolutionary Anthropology

Ornella Bertrand

Ornella Bertrand

Phd. in Anthropology
Prof. Mary Silcox

My research interests focus on the understanding of what is primitive for Primates in terms of the morphology of the brain. I use Glires (rodents and rabbits) as a comparative group to primates. The goal of my project is to answer the following questions:

  1. Does Glires exhibit an increase in brain size through time, as seen in Primates?
  2. Is arboreality (living in the trees) directly linked to the evolution of the brain in primates and in some members of Glires?
  3. What features of the brain characterized the common ancestor of Glires and Primates?

Courtney Hopper

PhD Anthroology
Prof. Genevieve Dewar

Stable isotopes, paleoenvironmental and dietary reconstruction, Later Stone Age, introduction of pastoralism, migration, social change

Sergi López-Torres

Phd. in Anthropology
Prof. Mary Silcox

My research interests include the study of early stages of primate evolution, particularly morphological analyses of Plesiadapiformes, as well as encephalization in early primates, and the evolutionary origins of the Order.

My doctoral research aims to build a phylogenetic tree of one family of plesiadapiforms, the Paromomyidae, using methods that combine morphological, stratigraphic, and biogeographic information. Another objective of my project is to determine the evolutionary relationships of paromomyid primates to closely related groups, such as the living Euarchonta (flying lemurs and tree shrews).

Kristen Prufrock

Kristen Prufrock

MSc in Anthropology
Prof. Mary Silcox

I am interested in the evolution, ecology, and morphology of stem primates and other euarchontans. In particular, my work involves the use of dental topographic analyses and tooth shape metrics to reconstruct dietary ecology.

My primary research objective is to investigate the cause of plesiadapoid (a group of stem primates) extinction in North America. The Paleocene-Eocene boundary coincided with an episode of mammalian turnover involving a sudden decline in plesiadapoids along with the first appearance and rapid diversification of rodents. It has been suggested that this pattern represents taxonomic displacement as a result of interspecific competition. My current research involves analyzing the dietary ecology of these fossil mammals to understand if food resource overlap can be considered a significant factor in the demise of plesiadapoids.

Rachel Rusen

Anthropology
Prof. Mary Silcox

My research interests are focused around all aspects of evolution of the primate brain, from its original emergence to the brains of living primates. In particular, I am curious about how small evolutionary changes in brain morphology can lead to more prominent behavioural differences.

My research at U of T will involve using CT data to build and interpret one or more virtual endocasts of ancient fossil primates or living tree shrews.

Monika Sumra

PhD Program in Anthropology and Collaborative Program in Women's Health
Prof. Michael Schillaci

I am interested in the social construction of female identity and how this intersects with women's everyday lived experiences.  Using a multi-method, multidisciplinary approach, my research offers a novel means within which to understand the way(s) in which women express and embody female identity.  My research approach involves the examination of the social, psychological and physiological correlates of socially constructed female identities.

My doctoral research examines potential psychological and physiological correlates associated with female social and sexual dominance within the context of women's leadership in the West.

Lianne Tripp

Lianne Tripp

Phd. in Anthropology
Prof. Larry Sawchuk

My research interests includes the study of health differentials in past and current populations using: demographic analysis such as, age and population distribution, fertility, and life table studies; and epidemiological tools, through disease prevalence and mortality analyses.

My dissertation research, takes a historical and contemporary examination of the impact of social factors such as: acculturation, and SES on health status and access to health care of Gibraltarians. A secondary research objective is to assess the possible health differentials of the minority communities (Hindu, Moroccans and Jews). Research methods includes, questionnaires and interviews to elucidate contemporary information, and demographic and mortality statistics to deconstruct health differentials in past communities.