Epigenetics and its Critiques.... To agree or not to agree..?
Epigenetics is the study of the processes that underlie developmental plasticity and canalization and that bring about persistent developmental effects in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. In my research, I came across a rather difficult yet slight interesting article entitled, “How might epigenetics contribute to ecological speciation?” Ecological speciation involves the formation of a new species in the course of evolution with one’s physical surrounding. It interplays with adaption to different environments and the concurrent incompatibility of reproductive isolation. Epigenetics is viewed as a process that does not interrupt the DNA in organisms. It can be an induced processed based from generation to generation through germ line cells or somatic cells. However, in embryonic development epigenetics changes its course. In the formation of a zygote, DNA methylation can occur as a biochemical process. Most epigenetics witnessed in this article pertain to DNA methylation and phenotypic plasticity. Of course, phenotypic plasticity is... read more ❯
New "Anthropology of Food" course!
Recall Your Way to Health
Biographical Sketch Dr. Cameron Hay is a premier cultural anthropologist in the study of health, medical systems, and medical knowledge, her major project being ethnography and comparison of the Sasak people of Lambok, Indonesia and their medical practice to American people. She cites her father as her strongest intellectual influence for his empathy and critical eye. Jon Andelson and Ron Kurtz sparked her interest in anthropology at Grinnell College. At Emory University, Dr. Hays earned her MA and Ph.D. in anthropology with a biocultural focus. Earning a NSF Advanced Fellows award helped her continue her postdoctoral studies at UCLA, where she currently holds her secondary position as an associate research anthropologist. She published her her first major paper in 1999 in the Medical Anthropology journal under the title “Dying Mothers: Maternal Mortality in Rural Indonesia.” Since then she has published 18 other papers and a book, Remembering to Live: Illness at... read more ❯
Body Image: the slave driver of behavior, the mediator of perception
Biographical Sketch (The man behind the article) Charles D. Laughlin is one of the pioneers of the theory of biogenetic structuralism in neuroanthropology. In 1966 he completed his anthropology B.A. at San Francisco State College. Unlike the youth of today (myself included) who take a leisurely year off after college, Dr. Laughlin spent one postgraduate year as a senior fellow for the Institute of Neurological Sciences at UPenn. He earned a M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Oregon in 1968 and 1972, respectively. For over twenty-five years, Dr. Laughlin taught anthropology at Carleton University located in Ottawa, Canada. He retired in 2001, gaining that ever so coveted emeritus status in Anthropology and Religion. He has not, however, retired from talking about interesting topics. He has a blog and a website! On his website he provides a glossary of terms that prove to be very helpful in understanding this article. In the... read more ❯
Risks of Commercial Plantain Production in the Bribri Territories
While volunteering in the Bribri village of Yorkin, I was told the story about why the women in the village decided to start their ecotourism project, Estibrawpa. I was told that before they started their ecotourism project, most of the men were working in banana and plantain plantations. The women say that not only was it an issue for the men to be gone for long periods of time (in those days it took an entire day to travel to and from the village), but the men were also suffering from respiratory and skin ailments. The women explained that they started the ecotourism project to keep the men in the village and eliminate or minimize the health risks associated with working with agrochemicals in the plantations. Knowing nothing about plantation agriculture, I set out to find some information in the literature. In the article “Pesticide application practices, pest knowledge, and cost-benefits... read more ❯
Grad Article #3 (Week of Sept. 22, 2014)-Sierra Cannon
Cite: Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences (12/1/2013) http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=99d3b622-6d0f-49f9-89ab-c502cd16a588%40sessionmgr4003&vid=2&hid=4203 This week’s reading is based upon allele frequency among certain populations. While reading this chapter, I came across a very interesting article evaluating allele frequency in Europe in relation to Africa, Asia, and South America. In this article is speaks on the mutant CCR5 delta 32 allele. This allele has been researched, and data shows resistance to HIV and later developed AIDS. As we all know, there is not a cure for AIDS; however; I personally didn’t know there was even a resistance to the disease besides condoms and abstinence. I mean please correct me if I’m wrong. This is exactly why this article intrigued me greatly. In this experiment, 400 healthy individuals were chosen and blood samples of 2cm^3 were taken to see if the allele was present in each individual. With this experiment, the participants were mostly not of African descent. It... read more ❯
Say aloha to Dr. Cann
Rebecca L. Cann is a geneticist who, along with her colleagues, is best known for the Mitochondrial Eve hypothesis (1987). Mitochondrial Eve explains that our human mitochondrial DNA can be linked back to a single African mother from over 200,000 years ago. The Mitochondrial Eve is the ancestor of us all. Since the publication of her paper in 1987, Cann's finding have had a huge impact on human society by contributing evidence for the "(Recent) Out-of-Africa" model. Rebecca Cann was originally born in Burlington, Iowa. She moved to San Francisco right before starting high school. After graduation, she earned her bachelor's (1972) at the University of California, Berkeley. In the gap between earning her Bachelor's in Genetics and enrolling for graduate school in the Anthropology Department (1972-1974), Cann's interests in human variability and personalized genomes ignited while working as a night-time quality control chemist. Her job exposed her to a lot... read more ❯
A Review of This Week's Readings on the Methods of Neuroanthropology
While I do believe anthropology is one of the most useful and applicable majors out there, I have personally crossed paths with many potential employers who do not share my enthusiasm for the discipline. Whether it is a misunderstanding of the mission or applicability of anthropology, our discipline has people scratching their heads. For the record, anthropologists do not dig up dinosaurs or steal artifacts from ancient and cursed tombs (anymore). I believe that both articles discussed today, Lynn et al. (2014) and Seligman and Brown (2010), turn that head scratching into a knoggin' knocking "why didn't I think of that!?" The public has to acknowledge the usefulness of a biocultural approach in understanding the "encultured brain" as Lende and Downey (2012) so aptly put it. Every person loves to hear how special they are. What could be more incising to humanity than describing the intricacies of our big brains... read more ❯
Ecotourism: How do you know it when you see it?
Last month (August 2014) I had the opportunity to work as a volunteer for an ecotourism project named Estibrawpa in the Bribri village of Yorkin. The Bribri are an indigenous group in Costa Rica who live in scattered villages on indigenous reserves near the border with Panama. Estibrawpa was started by a group of women in 1992 as a way to bring money into the community, preserve their traditions, and address health issues. The women explained that before they started their ecotourism project, the men of the village were for the most part employed in wage labor on banana plantations. Due to the fact that traveling in and out of the village involved a daylong journey in a dugout canoe, the men who were working in the plantations were away from the village for long periods of time. As the women describe it, this led to much “depresion” in the... read more ❯
The Mendelian Method
Will today it may seem extremely basic knowledge, Mendelian genetics was a complete revolution at the time it was shown the spotlight. Just like Darwin, Mendel's work was advanced for its time, and it took a great deal of time for their ideas to get tractions. However, Mendel was able to discover something that Darwin had struggled his entire life to understand: a mode of inheritance. Before modern microscopes, Mendel was able to comprehend a process that is invisible to the human on based on rigorous and patient methods of observation. He time as a monk was important to the tedious but important work he contributed to science. Mendel observed the very basic elements of inheritance through the pea plant. Simple dominent or recessive genes were observed through the physical color and shape of the pea as well as the size of the plant. Observations throughout countless generations allowed for Mendel to... read more ❯