Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)

William Aguado

William Aguado 0bb8ePhD Student
Advisor: Erin Vogel 
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)

I am interested in how the need to find and acquire food has influenced primate evolution and in particular how primates interact with their plant food resources. I received my BA in anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2013. At UCSC I aided in research on comparative primate anatomy by dissecting monkeys and apes and also discovered a love for fieldwork while researching the feeding ecology of howling monkeys on Ometepe Island in Nicaragua. After graduating I did research on vervet monkey foraging behavior and spatial cognition in Uganda before returning to UCSC for a few years to teach human anatomy labs. I received my MA at Iowa State University and focused my thesis on seed dispersal by savanna-dwelling chimpanzees at Fongoli, Senegal. Outside of my academic life I am an avid skateboarder that also enjoys climbing and photography.

Rebecca Brittain

RebeccaBrittain 10370PhD Student
Advisor: Erin Vogel  
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)

Research Interest: My general research interests include primate nutrition, health/disease and energetics, at both ecological and evolutionary scales. I am also interested in how these factors shaped hominin evolution. My specific research interests focus on the intersections between gut microbiota and energetics, nutrition, and health in wild Bornean orangutans. 

Kyra Johnson

KyraJohnsonHESPhD Student
Advisor: Dan Cabanes
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)

Research Interests: microarchaeology and taphonomy; dietary and technological changes in archaeological record; effects of heat on bone

I received a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in May of 2019. My undergraduate research focused on understanding how the surface of bone is altered by fire and other taphonomic processes. This research led to a poster presentation at the 2019 Society for American Archaeology meeting. That poster explored how the quantification of surface roughness may aid in the identification of burnt and weathered bone in the archaeological record.  My senior thesis expanded on this research by investigating how the surface roughness of White Tailed Deer ribs were affected by repeated heating events. At Rutgers, I would like to expand on this research, as well as look at other macro- and micro-scale effects of heat on bone. My broader research interests include using a combination of microarchaeology and taphonomy to understand how we can track major dietary and technological changes in the archaeological record. In my free time, I enjoy exploring museums, reading, and finding the best slice of cake in the world.

Alysse Moldawer

AlysseWebsiteThumbPhD Student
Advisor: Erin Vogel
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)
Research Interests: orangutan behavior and ecology, political ecology, environmental anthropology, primate physiology
I am interested in an interdisciplinary approach to understanding home range quality and stress of wild, female, Bornean orangutans in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. My current research goals are to examine how wild female orangutans respond and adapt to inter-related factors of interest that include: forest and nutrient ecology, orangutan density, presence of anthropogenic effects, and the sociology and history of human land use within the proposed research site. I am also exploring field and laboratory methods for examining orangutan physiology.

Dominique Raboin

Dominique Raboin 1eb3aPhD Student 
Advisor:Ryne Palombit
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)

Dominique Raboin holds a B.A. in biological anthropology and ecology from New York University and a M.A. from Hunter College at the City University of New York in animal behavior and conservation. She is broadly interested in primate behavioral ecology, including the costs and benefits of sociality from an evolutionary perspective. As an undergrad, Dominique studied feeding ecology in urban wildlife. Her master’s research investigated primate infant care and feeding ecology, specifically the feeding benefits of allomaternal care in guereza monkeys in Kibale National Park, Uganda. In addition to field research, Dominique gained experience in a primate molecular ecology lab, genotyping ringtail lemur samples to map their genetic diversity in Madagascar.

Her current research interests include kin and non-kin associations and social development among primates. For her dissertation, Dominique hopes to explore the roles of social learning during the juvenile period and juvenile-conspecific associations in long-term survivability of olive baboons in Laikipia, Kenya. Dominique hopes to contribute to primate conservation through her research and engagement in conservation education.

Andrew Schwartz

AndrewSchwartzPhD Student
Advisor: Robert Scott
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)

I received my B.A. in Anthropology from Vanderbilt University in 2018. Much of my undergraduate research involved the dental microwear texture analysis of archaeological remains from the Wari Empire as well as modern capuchin monkeys from Costa Rica. Previously, I excavated early primate remains from the Bighorn Basin and early hominin remains from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. In the summer of 2019, I served as an intern for the Wyoming Dinosaur Center excavating dinosaur remains from the Morrison formation. As a doctoral candidate in Anthropology, I intend to focus my research on DMTA of non-human fossil primates to better understand primate dietary change in relation to climate change. Outside of academia, I am a diehard Mets, Jets and Islanders fan.

Research interests: DMTA of non-human fossil primates

Dennis Sonkoi

dennisPhD Student
Advisor: Lee Cronk
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)

Research Interests: Generosity and Traditional risk pooling mechanisms among the Maasai of Loita in Kenya. To particularly explore how the Maasai in the strive for generosity shared pasture, water, land and other natural resources to avert the negative effects of natural calamities.

Anissa Speakman

speakmanphotoPhD Student
Advisor: Robert Scott
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)

I received a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, and a Bachelor of Science in Entomology and Wildlife Ecology from the University of Delaware in 2017. During my time at the University of Delaware, I wrote a senior thesis on sex differences in the dental health of the prehistoric Tepe Hissar assemblage. I also worked in the Bee Behavior and Ecology Lab, studying the foraging behavior of honey bees, and helping to develop new pest management practices for beekeepers. My project focuses on human dietary adaptations during environmental shifts in the Pliocene and Plistocene, specifically looking at the development of microwear on enamel. I am interested in all questions related to the evolution of the hominin diet. I am also an avid science and environmental activist, participating in various demonstrations and activities during my time at the University of Delaware.

Xijun Wang

XijunWangPhD Student
Advisor: Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)

I hold a B.A. degree in anthropology from Stony Brook University. My research interests are in Forensic Biology and Osteology. Prior to joining the Rutgers Master Program in Anthropology, I engaged in several research projects about the influences of different genotype mutations on the volume and density in endochondral and intramembranous bones in mice. Specifically, one of my studies involved the B3glct gene mutant mice as compared to a non-mutant control group, exploring potential factors that contribute to various disease states. I also joined the Percival Lab and developed sophisticated skills in identifying individual osteological compartments from a sample model established by 3D micro CT scans. As a prospective Master student at Rutgers University, I am looking forward to developing my interests and conducting more research in the field of Osteology and Forensic Biology.

Research interests: Forensic Biology and Osteology

Emma Willhardt

EmmaWillhardtMasters Student
Advisor: Susan Cachel
Program: HES

I received a B.A. in Anthropology and Biology from Grinnell College in 2019. During my time at Grinnell I received a holistic education in both disciplines but focused on their intersection. My main anthropological research at Grinnell looked at the way dominance hierarchies can be perceived in human social groups through dyadic interactions. I also spent a good deal of time working in one of the cell biology laboratories genetically transforming frog embryos and assessing subsequent changes in mitotic spindle formation. I am interested in tracking large-scale migrations through pathogenic evidence and have been looking into the Yamnaya people who originated in Ukraine approximately 5,000 years ago as a potential focus-group for my research.


Departmental Chair
Craig S. Feibel

Graduate Director
Erin Vogel
Spring 2020 office hours:
Monday 2-3 or by appointment

Graduate Assistant
Safiena Salaman