Research Activities

Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex exterior
Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex, home to the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Photo by Scott Norsworthy. © University of Toronto. All Rights Reserved.

This page features recent publications, conference presentations, and research talks by UTM Anthropology faculty and graduate students. Learn more about our faculty research interests.


Professor Andrew Gilbert just published an article in Anthropology News with fellow anthropologist Dr. Larisa Kurtović (uOttawa) and Sarajevo-based graphic artist Boris Stapić.  Entitled “Reclaiming Dita,” the article is part of a special collection that focuses on innovations in graphic ethnography, or ethnographic research that appears in the form of sequential art like comics or graphic novels.  The article highlights some of the unique advantages and possibilities of working collaboratively in this medium.  Dr. Gilbert also recently presented research from this graphic ethnography project on 22 July at the workshop “Anthropology beyond text? Experiments, devices and platforms in multimodal anthropology” organized by the Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology at the Institute for European Ethnology, Humboldt University, Berlin. (Posted August 31, 2021)

Dr. Lauren Schroeder and Cathy Ngọc Hân Tran published an article entitled “Common evolutionary patterns in the human nasal region across a worldwide sample” in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. This article uses a quantitative genetic approach to assess whether the variation in the external nasal region of humans can be attributed to genetic drift or natural selection. Results highlight a strong adaptive signature in the nasal region across all populations, challenging the long-standing hypothesis that nasal adaptation occurred only across cold-climates. (Posted August 23, 2021)

Dr. Madeleine Mant and her team published more results of their U of T COVID-19 Action Initiative funded research on U of T student experiences of the ongoing pandemic in PLOS ONE. While the majority of university students stated their intention to get the COVID-19 vaccine, they noted nuanced concerns about efficacy and safety that must be taken into account by public health authorities. Ensuring that family doctors, pharmacists, and other front-line healthcare workers have consistent and clear information regarding the benefits of vaccination will be critical to encouraging uptake among young adults. (Posted August 18, 2021)

cover of Voices of Forensic ScienceVolume 1, Issue 2 of Voices of Forensic Science is now published! Authored by the summer students of FSC430, this book is a collaborative exploration of forensic issues from a multidisciplinary approach. The summer issue, titled The Forensic Science Alternate Universe explores hypothetical changes to infamous crimes, and how the ripple effects of these alternate timelines extend far beyond just the suspect and victims. Edited by forensic instructor Murray Clayton and anthropology PhD Candidate Alex Saly, this marks the second publication for FSC430. (Posted August 18, 2021)


Dr. David Samson published an article entitled “The Human Sleep Paradox: The Unexpected Sleeping Habits of Homo sapiens” in the Annual Review of Anthropology. Sleep is vital for optimal performance. Why then, do humans sleep the least of all primates? To reconcile, Dr. Samson proposes the Social Sleep Hypothesis, which he outlines briefly in this Twitter thread(Posted July 19, 2021)

Dr. David Samson and colleagues published Gender differences in BaYaka forager sleep-wake patterns in forest and village contexts in Scientific Reports. Sleep studies in small-scale subsistence societies have broadened our understanding of cross-cultural sleep patterns, revealing the flexibility of human sleep. This paper examines sleep biology among BaYaka foragers from the Republic of Congo who move between environmentally similar but socio-ecologically distinct locations to access seasonal resources. The authors highlight the importance of considering intra-cultural variation in sleep–wake patterns when taking sleep research into the field. (Posted July 9, 2021)

don't frack Yorkshire poster in a windowProfessor Todd Sanders and Professor Elizabeth Sanders (Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto) presented a paper on the panel Beyond audit culture? New critical approaches to accountability, responsibility and metrics at the 15th Congress of the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF), University of Helsinki, Finland on 23 June. Drawing on materials from their current SSHRC-funded project, their paper – The power of accountability: reflections on fracking, traffic lights and openness in England – explored some of conundrums that familiar anthropological approaches to audit and accountability create for understanding such phenomena today, and suggested one possible way to extend anthropological thinking and theorising on the subject. (Posted July 7, 2021)

Dr. Trevor Orchard, along with his collaborators Suzanne Needs-Howarth, Alicia Hawkins, Louis Lesage, Eric Guiry, and Thomas Royle, recently presented a paper titled “A feathered river across the sky? Preliminary considerations of passenger pigeon abundance and distribution in the late Holocene zooarchaeological record of southern Ontario, Canada” at the 10th Meeting of the International Council for Archaeozoology Bird Working Group. The two day conference, hosted by staff of the Osteological Collections, University Museum of Bergen, Norway, was held online, June 5-6, 2021. (Posted June 8, 2021)

Dr. Trevor Orchard, along with collaborators Alicia Hawkins, and Suzanne Needs-Howarth, presented a paper on “Mining Howard Savage’s Legacy: Assessing Zooarchaeological Data Quality in Undergraduate Student Faunal Reports” at the the Second Faunal Interest Group Symposium: Zooarchaeology Beyond Food, hosted by the University of Toronto Archaeology Centre. The symposium was held online, in March 2021. (Posted June 8, 2021)

Dr. David Samson, Kaleigh Reyes, and Ujas Patel published Gibbon sleep quantified: the influence of lunar phase and meteorological variables on activity in Hylobates moloch and Hylobates pileatus in the journal Primates. This article reports the first sleep duration estimates in two captive gibbon species, the Javan gibbon (Hylobates moloch) and the pileated gibbon (Hylobates pileatus). (Posted May 31, 2021)

Drs. Tracey Galloway and Sarah Hillewaert, along with a team of researchers and health service providers from Peel Region Public Health and Trillium Health Partners, have received a pilot research award from the inaugural UTM Black, Indigenous, and Racialized Scholar/Research Grant Program. Their project Racialized, Migrant and Indigenous Community Experiences of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Peel Region will use spatial and qualitative methods to understand the “COVID-19 journeys” of racialized, immigrant and Indigenous communities in order to increase the awareness and cultural safety of health messaging and care. The interdisciplinary team includes Drs. Kathi Wilson (co-lead), Matt Adams, Vincent Kuuire and Nicole Laliberte (UTM Geography, Geomatics & Environment), Dr. Nicole Charles (UTM Historical Studies), and Drs. Laura Rosella and Rob Reid (Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Trillium Health Partners). (Posted May 26, 2021)

cover of book entitled Words and WorldsProfessor Todd Sanders and Professor Elizabeth Sanders (Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto) contributed a chapter on ‘Openness’ to Words and Worlds: A Lexicon for Dark Times (eds) Veena Das & Didier Fassin. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. The volume, which resulted from a workshop at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, uses a keyword approach à la Raymond Williams in order to provide a partial diagnosis of today’s troubled times. If Elizabeth Povinelli is right, the collection ‘will have a major impact on our thinking about the fate of liberalisms and democracy.’ (Posted May 25, 2021)


Professor David Samson and his lab team recently launched the Sleep and Human Evolution Lab (SHEL) website. SHEL focuses on the biology, ecology, and evolution of primate sleep.  The SHEL's ultimate goal is to further our understanding of the evolutionary links between sleep, health, and cognition in the human lineage. Visit the new SHEL website to learn more! (Posted May 7, 2021)

cover of FSC430 journalThe students of FSC430 recently published the inaugural volume and issue of Voices of Forensic Science, a collaborative exploration of forensic issues from a multidisciplinary approach. This issue, titled Are We There Yet? The Golden Standards of Forensic Science is edited by forensic instructor Murray Clayton and anthropology Master’s student Noor Abbas, and looks at the weight and consequences of holding methods and techniques in high regard, and what happens when trust in science is not critically evaluated. (Posted April 27, 2021)

various book covers by UTM Anthropology authorsBooks by Stephen Scharper, Sarah Hillewaert, and Andrew Gilbert were included in the annual Celebration of Books at UTM.

Learn more about The Green Bible: Words of Love for A Suffering Planet by Stephen Scharper and Simon Appolloni, Morality at the Margins: Youth, Language, and Islam in Coastal Kenya by Sarah Hillewaert, and International Intervention and the Problem of Legitimacy: Encounters in Postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina by Andrew Gilbert. (Posted April 27, 2021)

A Timeline of Pleasantville and yellow mapProfessor Wool co-created a media-rich timeline exhibit at the Houston Flood Museum detailing the history of Black civic engagement and environmental racism in Houston's historic Pleasantville neighborhood. The timeline is the first output of Project Pleasantville, a community collaborative team project founded in 2019 by Professor Wool, along with Dr. Lacy Johnson, Ms. Bridgette Murray, and Mr Cleophus Sharp. The project also includes a growing oral history archive, a poster series, and a number of student research projects. (Posted April 26, 2021) 

Dr. Rosenberg Larsen published a co-authored article in the journal, Frontiers in Psychology, entitled, "Is the Psychopathic Brain an Artifact of Coding Bias? A Systematic Review". In this piece, the authors systematically review the neurobiological evidence behind the claim that diagnosed psychopaths have abnormal/different brain structures. Specifically, they analyzed the proportion of null-findings compared to positive effects in sMRI brain imaging experiments. They found that the majority of results are null-findings, but that review studies consistently under-report nulls and disproportionately includes positive findings, distorting the robustness and true relevance of this evidence. The authors conclude that there is a pressing problem with coding bias in the field, which in turn has negative implications for its current and future forensic use. (Posted April 26, 2021)

Dr. Madeleine Mant and colleagues published an article entitled Canadian university students' perceptions of COVID-19 severity, susceptibility, and health behaviours during the early pandemic period in the journal Public Health in Practice. This is an open access article based upon Dr. Mant's U of T COVID-19 Student Survey project. (Posted April 26, 2021)

Dr. Madeleine Mant is a Series Editor of the Routledge Advances in the History of Bioethics series. She co-edited the most recent volume: The History and Bioethics of Medical Education"You've Got to Be Carefully Taught". (Posted April 26, 2021)

Dr. David Samson, PhD candidates Erica Kilius and Leela McKinnon, and Master's student Noor Abbas published Pandemic Nightmares: COVID-19 Lockdown Associated With Increased Aggression in Female University Students' Dreams in Frontiers in Psychology. The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated stressors have impacted the daily lives and sleeping patterns of many individuals, including university students. Dreams may provide insight into how the mind processes changing realities. We found that relative to normative American College Student (ACS) samples generated pre-COVID-19, women were more likely to experience aggressive interactions in their dream content, including increased physical aggression. Results indicate that university students did experience changes in dream content due to the pandemic lockdown period, with women disproportionally affected. These findings can aid universities in developing support programs for students by bringing forth an understanding of students' concerns and anxieties as they process the “new normal” of social distancing. (Posted March 23, 2021)

Dr. Steven Dorland recently published an article entitled Let's start with something Small: An evaluation of social learning and scaling practices in Great Lakes potting communities during the Late Woodland in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. The paper analyses decorative data from Late Woodland ceramic assemblages to investigate scaling practices and its role in learning experiences. This paper proposes a methodology to strengthen understanding of social learning traditions in the Great Lakes that is applicable across spatiotemporal contexts. (Posted March 22, 2021)

an anthropology ofProfessor Andrew Gilbert recently created a podcast entitled “An Anthropology of…” for the Raising Our Voices virtual event series of the American Anthropological Association last November. The podcast was only available for registered participants, but is now available for anyone to listen to here.  Here is a description of the episode:

“Among the most common phrases to appear in anthropological scholarship is “an anthropology of…” But the objects of this phrase differ wildly. A simple search of anthropology journals shows scholars proposing an anthropology of, variously: labor, landmines, culpability, old age, lying, parking, the multimodal, viral hemorrhagic fevers, algorithms, electricity, interior dialogue, immunology, public reasoning, and undesired buildings. With such an array of different research objects can the authors mean the same thing by what constitutes “anthropology”? Or is this turn of phrase simply a useful way to distinguish ourselves in a competitive academic market and add intellectual heft to our scholarly endeavors? Drawing on interviews with a diverse group of anthropologists, this podcast takes this phrase as a starting point to offer a playful and contemplative exploration of how the discipline understands itself today. Featuring Akhil Gupta, Kate Hennessy & Trudi Lynn Smith, Eleana Kim, Carole McGranahan, Tobias Rees and Nick Seaver.” (Posted January 25, 2021)

Professor Andrew Gilbert recently participated in an Emergent Conversation series entitled “Political Action and Generations” for Political and Legal Anthropology Review (PoLAR), the journal of the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology.  View part one and part two(Posted January 25, 2021)

Dr. Guilherme Debortoli, a postdoctoral researcher in Prof. Esteban Parra’s lab, and collaborators from Brazil and Sweden published in the journal Scientific Reports an article entitled “Identification of ancestry proportions in admixed groups across the Americas using clinical pharmacogenomic SNP panels”. This article evaluated the performance of three panels of pharmacogenetic (PGx) markers to estimate biogeographic ancestry, and described that using these panels it is possible to control for the effects of population stratification (e.g. false positive results) in association studies in recently admixed populations. (Posted January 20, 2021)

Dr. Madeleine Mant's article entitled Intersectionality and trauma analysis in bioarchaeology has been accepted to the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. (Posted January 15, 2021)

March 4, 2021 update: Dr. Mant's article "Intersectionality and trauma analysis in bioarchaeology" was selected as the Editor's Choice article for the April issues of American Journal of Physical Anthropology. The article is available for free for the next few months at

Research Activities Archive

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