Through my undergraduate and early graduate years in biological anthropology, I did not hear about the field of “ancient DNA” until I started my doctoral work at McMaster University (Hamilton, ON). After a course or two on the topic, I was definitely hooked. Fast forward a bit, and I received my doctorate, combining anthropology with ancient pathogens. For me, ancient DNA provides a complementary anthropological approach to ask questions about what makes us human, how we got here and what happened along the way.
I am fascinated by the interplay between humans and their microbes, specifically the evolution of infectious diseases and adaptive responses that have impacted human biology throughout our history. I focus on how health outcomes in the past may be accentuated or mitigated by social, cultural and ecological factors, and so I use an approach that combines ancient DNA with bioarchaeology, historical analysis and archaeology.