AN Bio-Anthro Job Search Presents: Christopher A. Schmitt PhD

Published: April 7th, 2015

The Department of Anthropology

Bio-Anthro Assistant Professor Search

Presents a Lecture by:

Christopher A. Schmitt PhD


Thursday, April 9 4:00 PM

5 Cummington St. BRB 113

“Genomics, Development, and the Evolution of Obesity”

Prolonged growth and development are among the key traits that mark primates, and especially humans, as unique compared to other mammals. Renewed interest in the biomedical and health implications of early environmental impacts on growth and disease throughout the lifespan – especially with respect to obesity – makes for an exciting research area where life history theory, evolution and biomedicine intersect. My research works towards developing a genomic model for the development of obesity-related traits using captive vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus spp), while also establishing a field model to study the evolution of those traits in the wild. My captive work suggests that obesity in vervet monkeys is not only highly heritable and controlled by multiple genes, but that obesity is, in part, due to a heavier growth pattern that is itself moderately heritable. Shifts in diet during ontogeny are observed to not only influence growth postnatally, but also via maternal programming in utero. As part of the International Vervet Research Consortium, I have also collected genomic and phenotypic data on thousands of wild vervet monkeys across their known range. With these samples, collaborators and I have been able to characterize shifts in life history and growth between wild vervet morphotypes, while also uncovering genomic differences between populations that shed light on the developmental biology behind those traits. The combination of pedigree-based analyses in the captive population and the larger-scale variability in the wild provide a powerful and exciting model for us to better understand not only how, but ultimately why individuals grow to become obese.

Christopher A. Schmitt ( is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar with the Human Evolution Research Center at UC Berkeley and Visiting Assistant Project Scientist at UCLA’s Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics. He also occasionally blogs on Tumblr about horrible field mishaps (, and even more occasionally tweets (@fuzzyatelin).

Walking Like a Cavewoman

Published: September 23rd, 2013

A chance BU collaboration sheds light on how a human ancestor got around

By Rich Barlow | Video by Sean Clauson

In the video above, anthropologist Jeremy DeSilva and physical therapist Kenneth Hold discuss how they unraveled the mystery of how a human ancestor walked.

They say that to understand another person, you must walk in her shoes. Jeremy DeSilva took that advice to the extreme, attempting to understand a prehistoric ancestor by walking in her feet.
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Call for undergraduate poster sessions

Published: February 20th, 2013

Undergraduate students are an increasingly important element in the production of anthropological knowledge. In its best form, undergraduate research can be seen as an apprenticeship, wherein the novitiate is granted a partnership and some degree of agency in pushing the boundaries of and crossing into new frontiers of shared knowledge. Collaboration with undergraduate students in research is one of the important ways we can facilitate innovation within our discipline. Their research breaks down classroom/ research boundaries, focuses on the importance of experiential learning, and exploits the naiveté and vigor of students not yet indoctrinated into paradigmatic complacency. Undergraduate students can be agents and partners in reshaping the landscape of anthropology.
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2013 Anthropological Summer School in Malta

Published: November 19th, 2012

The Anthropology field school is held annually on the charming islet of Gozo, in the Maltese Archipelago. Gozo is one of the three inhabited main islands of the Maltese Archipelago (Malta, Gozo and Comino) and is right in the heart of the Mediterranean. Described as Europe’s best kept secret, Malta is surrounded by crystal clear waters, enjoys year-round sunshine and is the home of numerous cultural, artistic and natural treasures.
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NAPA-OT Summer Field School in Guatemala

Published: October 22nd, 2012

The NAPA-OT Field School in Guatemala nurtures leaders in medical and applied anthropology and occupational therapy to promote social justice. Students work intensively in clinical and community settings gaining skill in research, observation, communication, and transdisciplinary collaboration. 
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2013 Thomas R. Pickering Fellowships

Published: October 9th, 2012

Greetings from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. The Pickering Programs provide financial and other support to participants as they are prepared for a career in the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service. We are delighted to announce the opening of the 2013 Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs & Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowships applications!
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Global Water Brigades

Published: September 4th, 2012

Global Water Brigades is a specific division of Global Brigades, a student-initiated non-profit organization which seeks to improve the health and well-being of communities in Honduras, Panama, and Ghana through sustainable development programs. Since a leading cause of death and illness in children in developing countries is due to lack of access to clean water, Global Water Brigades seeks to design and build sustainable water systems while working in solidarity with communities. Each January and May, members of Global Water Brigades at Boston University travel to Honduras to work with community members and other university students to build and implement these water systems. During the semester, Global Water Brigades is active in advocating for water awareness, developing ideas for the field of sustainable development, and implementing student ideas both locally and internationally.
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Ethnographic employment in Marketing Research (part-time)

Published: July 16th, 2012

Student research opportunities are available at SmartRevenue, Inc., a market research company that specializes in consumer behavior analysis.  We take an ethnographic approach in our field methods to collect what we call ‘shopper-centric’ perspectives.  Insights from the field offer solutions to improve the marketing of products and the shopper experience in the retail environment.  Most of our research takes place in stores such as Target, Costco, Best Buy, and grocery stores nationwide.
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Turkish Studies Association Scholarship

Published: February 17th, 2012


The aim of the Adıvar Scholarship is to introduce to Turkey students who have not had extensive prior experience in Turkey or Turkish studies. This $1,000 scholarship is awarded to a qualified undergraduate in any discipline in support of travel to Turkey for the purpose of study or research. The successful applicant may use the scholarship to support participation in a Turkish language program or a work internship, or for study or research in Turkish culture and society. A scholarship applicant must be currently enrolled in a degree program at an institution of higher education and must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States or Canada. The winner must make use of the award within a twelve month period, beginning the summer after the award is granted. Thus, a scholarship awarded in March 2012 is to be used in the summer of 2012 or the 2012-2013 academic year.
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Published: February 6th, 2012

The purpose of the scholarship, as stated by Ada Draper, is “to enable the most meritorious and needy female students to be sent abroad after graduation to complete their studies.”  Implicit is the recognition that study, in Ms. Draper’s opinion, goes beyond the classroom walls, and that learning should take place in foreign climes. Anthropology grads Elizabeth Peyton (CAS 2011) and Stephanie Roche (CAS 2010) are recent winners.
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