Research Activities

view of exterior of HSC building balcony with plants

This page features recent publications, conference presentations, and research talks by UTM Anthropology faculty and graduate students. Learn more about our faculty research interests. Follow our department on Twitter for updates.

Tracey Galloway is co-author of a study showing that grocers fail to pass along full Nutrition North food subsidy to shoppers. The article is published in the Journal of Public Economics(Posted September 2023)

Madeleine Mant is co-author of a new study showing a link between institutionalization, hip fractures and death. The article entitled "Structural violence and institutionalized individuals: A paleopathological perspective on a continuing issue" is published in PLOS ONE(Posted September 2023)

Professor Zoë Wool has a chapter entitled "Lessons in Yielding: Crip Refusal and Ethical Research Praxis," in the new book Crip Authorship: Disability as Method. (Posted September 2023)

Congratulations to Lauren Schroeder and David Samson, recipients of the 2023 UTM Annual Research Prize in the Sciences, which UTM presents to outstanding early career faculty members based on their contributions to their fields. (Posted September 2023)

PhD candidate Ashley Smith is co-author of an article entitled "Shifting the Forensic Anthropological Paradigm to Incorporate the Transgender and Gender Diverse Community." The article is posted on the MDPI journal Humans as part of the special issue "Contemporary Concerns and Considerations in Forensic Anthropology". (Posted July 13, 2023)

Congratulations to Lauren Schroeder, who has been named as one of this year’s SN 10: Scientists to Watch, the ScienceNews list of 10 early and mid-career scientists who are making extraordinary contributions to their field. Read about Dr. Schroeder's research in evolutionary anthropology in ScienceNews. (Posted July 12, 2023)

Cristina Abbatangelo, a PhD candidate mentored by Dr. Nicole Novroski, Dr. Frank Wendt and Dr. Esteban Parra, is the first author of a publication recently published in the journal Forensic Genomics. This review paper describes methods and tools for performing Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS), as well as post-GWAS analysis (such as fine mapping and colocalization), with a major focus on forensically relevant externally visible characteristics. (Posted June 15, 2023) 

covid-19 virus particles

Dr. Esteban Parra and his collaborator from Brazil Dr. Andre Luchessi are co-authors of an article recently published in the prestigious journal Nature. The paper reports novel variants associated with Covid-19 severity. Overall, 49 genome-wide significant associations were described, which is a substantial increase with respect to previous studies. Additionally, the study identified potentially druggable targets, which is relevant for future therapeutic efforts. (Posted June 14, 2023) 

Dr. Esteban Parra and Dr. Guilherme Debortoli, a former postdoc in his laboratory, are co-authors of a paper published in Frontiers in Pharmacology. Based on whole-genome sequencing data from more than 1,000 individuals from Brazil, the study described the applicability of next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques for translating pharmacogenomic variants into clinically relevant phenotypes and discussed the feasibility of systematic adoption of PGx testing in Brazil. The first author of the article, Dr. Bertholim-Nasciben, was a visiting graduate student in Dr. Parra’s lab during her doctoral studies. (Posted June 14, 2023) 

Dr. Esteban Parra and Dr. Frida Lona-Durazo, a former graduate student who is currently a postdoc at Université de Montréal, are co-authors of an article published in the journal Communications Biology, from the Nature Research portfolio. This study is the result of a collaboration with investigators from the UK (University of Edinburgh). The paper describes the results of a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of retinal vasculature (measured as fractal dimension, Df), which replicated previously known signals, and identified new putative loci. Importantly, the paper reports a significant correlation of retinal vasculature with coronary artery disease and proposes shared molecular mechanisms. Predicted models of myocardial infarction including Df performed better than models without this variable. (Posted June 14, 2023) 

Nina Adler, U of T Anthropology Research Assistant and incoming PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Frank Wendt and Dr. Esteban Parra, is a co-author on a recent Nature Communications publication from her previous position at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in collaboration with Dr. Dzana Dervovic and team led by Dr. Daniel Schramek at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute. The article titled ‘In vivo CRISPR screens reveal Serpinb9 and Adam2 as regulators of immune therapy response in lung cancer’ involved the identification and functional validation of immune-modulatory effects of Serpinb9 and Adam2, which have implications for lung cancer treatment. We are excited to have Nina join our department and look forward to her continued successes. (Posted June 6, 2023)

Stephen Scharper gave the Sustainability Formal Dinner lecture on May 15, 2023 at Green Templeton College, Oxford University. The talk was entitled "Robert Hunter, Greenpeace Co-Founder, and the 'Diagnostic Moments' of His Environmental Activism". (Posted June 1, 2023)

David Samson has published a new book entitled Our Tribal Future: How to Channel Our Foundational Human Instincts into a Force for Good. The book "explores a central paradox of our species: how altruism, community, kindness, and genocide are all driven by the same core adaptation. Evolutionary anthropologist David R. Samson engages with cutting-edge science and philosophy, as well as his own field research with small-scale societies and wild chimpanzees, to explain the science, ethics, and history of tribalism in compelling and accessible terms." (May 30, 2023)

Michael Brand, Trevor Orchard, and Sarah Ranlett have published a short article entitled “The Archaeological Field School Comes to Campus: 10 Years of the Schreiber Wood Project at the University of Toronto Mississauga” in ArchNotes, the newsletter of the Ontario Archaeological Society. The article provides a brief overview and summary of the on-campus UTM Anthropology archaeological field school project that has been running annually for the past decade. (Posted May 16, 2023)

PhD candidate Ashley Smith presented “When Bone Lights Up: A novel way to label bone proteins & cells, and its potential uses” at the annual UTM Graduate Research Colloquium. (Posted May 16, 2023)

MSc student Eman Faisal (nominated by Professor Tracy Rogers) received a UTM Black, Indigenous, and Racialized Graduate Research Fellowship award. The award is co-sponsored by the Vice Dean, Graduate and UTM Principal. Recipients receive a research stipend plus an additional amount that can be allocated to eligible research expenses. (Posted May 16, 2023)

Ashley Moo-Choy presented her research at the UTM Graduate Research Colloquium on May 3rd, 2023, entitled "Evaluation of Transfer, Persistence, and Recovery of Touch DNA from Mobile Phones". Ashley's presentation is the second half of her Master's research work completed with Nicole Novroski, which was funded by the Forensic Sciences Foundation in 2022. Congratulations Ashley on completing your MRP! (Posted May 4, 2023)

Trudy McKnight and Mikisha Lyle, fourth year undergraduates, were recently awarded the Undergraduate Student Research Award for Black Students, issued by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Trudy and Mikisha will be working on exploring the population genetic structure of Canadian populations for forensic human identity applications with PI Nicole Novroski for the Summer 2023 term. (Posted May 4, 2023)

Stephen Scharper wrote the foreword for a book celebrating Greenpeace co-founder Robert Hunter. The book is entitled Mr. Mindbomb – Eco-Hero and Greenpeace Co-founder Bob Hunter: A Life in Stories (Vancouver: Rocky Mountain Books, 2023). Captain Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd wrote the introduction, and The Hon. Elizabeth May, MP, of the Green Party, contributed the afterword. The book features insightful reflections and stories shared by family, friends, and colleagues of the renowned environmental activist. Read an excerpt of Professor Scharper's foreword (PDF). (Posted May 1, 2023)

Hayley Welsh, a PhD student in Dr. Esteban Parra’s lab, is the first author of a paper published in the journal Clinical Epidemiology. The paper evaluates how different normalization methods affect estimates of DNA methylation obtained with the Infinium EPIC array, which measures methylation status of more than 850,000 sites throughout the genome. The article also highlights how data normalization improves the reliability of methylation data, based on intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs). This research is part of a collaborative effort between Dr. Esteban Parra’s group, and researchers from the Hospital for Sick Children in Canada and the University of São Paulo in Brazil. (Posted April 21, 2023)

cover of book The News Event

Dr. Francis Cody has published a new book entitled The News Event: Popular Sovereignty in the Age of Deep Mediatization (University of Chicago Press, 2023). In the hypermediated world of Tamil Nadu, Dr. Cody studies how “news events” are made. Not merely the act of representing events with words or images, a “news event” is the reciprocal relationship between the events being reported in the news and the event of the news coverage itself. In The News Event, Francis Cody focuses on how imaginaries of popular sovereignty have been remade through the production and experience of such events. (Posted April 21, 2023)

Dr. Monica Ramsey has published a new paper entitled Ecological-cultural inheritance in the wetlands: the non-linear transition to plant food production in the southern Levant in Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. The paper proposes the idea that wetlands provided Epipalaeolithic people with a ‘domestication laboratory’, where they could experiment and gain new knowledge, building the ecological-cultural inheritances necessary for the transition to plant food production. (Posted March 24, 2023)

Drs. Frank Wendt and Esteban Parra are the recipients of a Data Sciences Institute and McLaughlin Centre Polygenic Risk Score Grant. Their proposal titled ’Tandem repeat aware risk scores linking major depression and hippocampus volume’, aims to link hippocampus volume to depression using regions of the genome that expand and contract at appreciable frequencies in the general population. By focusing on regulatory regions of the genome, their findings are hypothesized to improve the cross-population portability of polygenic scores.” (Posted March 21, 2023)

Dr. Laura Bolt is the lead author for a paper that was recognized as the most cited article in American Journal of Primatology for 2021-2022. The paper is titled "Maderas Rainforest Conservancy: A One Health approach to conservation" and highlights the research and conservation work of the Maderas Rainforest Conservancy non-profit organization, where Dr. Bolt also leads a primate field school. (Posted March 1, 2023)

New evidence published by MSc graduate Noor Abbas and Dr. David Samson showed that pandemic dreamers in their study had more negative and unfamiliar features in their dreams than when awake. The article entitled "Dreaming during the COVID-19 pandemic: Support for the threat simulation function of dreams" appears in Frontiers in Psychology. (Posted February 6, 2023)

Dr’s Lauren Schroeder and Bence Viola were guests on the 50th Anniversary episode of the Leakey Foundation’s Lunch Break Science, a live-streamed public-facing outreach program. This episode was about debunking common misconceptions about evolution and can be streamed on Youtube(Posted January 24, 2023)

Dr. Lauren Schroeder and Prof. Rebecca Rogers Ackermann from the University of Cape Town recently published an invited article for the 50th Anniversary special issue of the Journal of Human Evolution (JHE). The piece is entitled “Moving beyond the adaptationist paradigm for human evolution, and why it matters”. In it, they write about hominin diversity and the importance of non-adaptive evolutionary processes (genetic drift, hybridization) in shaping our evolution, a narrative that has often been overlooked. They also track demographic change in the discipline of palaeoanthropology through author metrics in JHE, highlighting the historical exclusion of certain voices in the field, and call for a concerted field-wide effort to help increase the diversity of the narrators of our human story. (Posted January 24, 2023)

Undergraduate independent research student Luca Del Giacco was awarded the Davidson Black Award for the best in-person poster presentation at the Canadian Association for Biological Anthropology 2022 annual conference. Supervised by Dr. Lauren Schroeder, the poster is entitled: Does early Homo dental variation follow a neutral pattern of divergence?. Congratulations, Luca! (Posted January 24, 2023)

Dr. Mant and her team of undergraduate research assistants from the Jackman Humanities Institute Scholars in Residence 2022 program published a piece in Teaching Anthropology (early view) about their experiences working with archival hospital records. The team continues to investigate the healthcare experiences of 18th-century children in Northampton, UK and will be presenting their work at the 2023 Society for the History of Children and Youth Conference. (Posted January 17, 2023)

Dr. Mant and colleagues published an article in the International Journal of Paleopathology about a case of rickets in a 3-year-old child from 19th-century New York state. Paleopathological cases of rickets in North America are rare and this article contributes to a deeper geographical and temporal understanding of this condition. (Posted January 17, 2023)

Dr. Mant and Lauren Poeta (Western University) co-authored a chapter in the new Routledge Handbook of Paleopathology entitled "Defining the Margins, Embodying the Consequences." This work explores the state of the field regarding the health and disease burden of marginalized individuals in the past and calls for social justice in paleopathological research. (Posted January 17, 2023)

Dr. Esteban Parra and colleagues from Mexico are co-authors of a paper published in the Journal Genome Biology. This paper provides new insights into the biological mechanisms that lead to altered lipid levels. Based on a large multi-ancestry meta-analysis including more than 1.6 million individuals, this research prioritized putative causal genes involved in lipid metabolism, explored the relationships of genetically predicted lipid levels to other diseases and conditions, identified loci showing sex-biased effects, and reported 21 novel lipid loci identified on the X-Chromosome. (Posted January 17, 2023)

Dr. Esteban Parra is one of the senior authors of a paper published in the Journal Human Genetics and Genomics Advances. This research analyzed genetic data in a large Hispanic/Latino sample and discovered new genetic loci associated with Body Mass Index (BMI), height, and BMI-adjusted waist-to-hip ratio. (Posted January 17, 2023)


View previous Research Activities

small buildings in snowy northern community

New study shows grocers fail to pass along full Nutrition North food subsidy to shoppers

Tracey Galloway is a co-author of the study that looked at 100-plus isolated communities.

Lauren Schroeder has been named as one of this year’s SN 10: Scientists to Watch

Dr. Lauren Schroeder is on the ScienceNews list of 10 early and mid-career scientists who are making extraordinary contributions to their field.
Missouri State Hospital

New study shows link between institutionalization, hip fractures and death

Madeleine Mant is an author of the study that used paleopathology - the study of disease in the past using sources including human remains.