Current affiliation: The Field Museum, Chicago + Institute of Evolutionary Medicine, University of Zürich
Research description: Throughout my 50-year academic career, my research has involved a wide-ranging approach to reconstructing primate evolution. Projects have ranged from field studies of primate behavior and ecology, through investigation of primate morphology and paleontology, across the spectrum to reach molecular anthropology. The rationale underlying my research has been that a genuine understanding of human evolution demands comprehensive knowledge of primate evolution and even a grasp of the main lines of mammalian evolution. Among my specific research interests, reproductive biology of primates and other mammals has ranked highly from the outset. I have also had a long-term interest in quantitative relationships between biological features and body size (allometric scaling). Evidence from both reproduction and scaling figured prominently in my 1990 textbook Primate Origins and Evolution: A Phylogenetic Reconstruction. In 2013 (the year I retired from my Curatorship at The Field Museum), I published my first book for a general audience, entitled How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction. This book, relying heavily on the broad-based comparative approach that I developed throughout my career, presents information derived from the evolutionary biology of humans and other primates. It is relevant to medical and other issues concerning our own reproductive biology. Hence, since 2013 my interests have increasingly turned to public communication of findings from evolutionary studies of reproductive biology, using both print and social media. However, I continue to work on various research projects and to publish scientific papers. Two co-authored papers that have just appeared online are a review of quantitative analyses of scaling of basal metabolic rate in mammals (arising from a long-lasting project with Michel Genoud and Karin Isler) and presentation of a mitochondrial DNA phylogeny for long-tailed macaques arising from Lu Yao’s PhD thesis on island dwarfing.