I am a skeletal biologist studying the effect of environmental factors, such as nutrition, physical activity, and climate, on human bone health. Modern humans live in diverse environments, eat a wide range of diets, and do varying amounts of exercise. How do these differences in lifestyle affect bone growth, maintenance, and loss? This is an important question for maximizing bone health and reducing osteoporosis risk in living populations, and for making behavioral inferences from the skeletal phenotypes we observe in the fossil record.
Research in my laboratory incorporates experimental and comparative approaches in humans and in model organisms. We use dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) to measure bone mass and body composition,microcomputed tomography (mCT) to quantify cortical and trabecular bone morphology, and histomorphometry to assess bone cell number and bone growth rates. Current research projects include the effects of early onset Type 2 diabetes on skeletal acquisition; interactions between brown fat and bone mass; and a study of macronutrient fractionation to various body tissues.