Science Pub Eugene: Human Biology in Siberia

MAR 10 | 6:30-8:30PM

To Siberia and Beyond: Studying Human Biology at the Edge of the World

With Josh Snodgrass, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies at the University of Oregon

Doors open @ 5PM | $5 Suggested Donation

Siberia, Russia’s vast eastern frontier, is one of the most inhospitable places on Earth—its isolation and undesirability have made the word a commonly used figure of speech in the English language. However, despite its numerous environmental challenges, Siberia is home to an immense diversity of indigenous cultures, from the Evenki reindeer herders of the central Siberian taiga to the maritime Chukchi hunters from the shores of the Bering Sea. The native Siberian existence is truly unique—not only have they adapted culturally and biologically to the extreme cold and seasonality of the circumpolar environment but they have also experienced massive social, economic, and health changes over the past century as the result of the rise and fall of the Soviet Union.

In this talk, anthropologist Josh Snodgrass will discuss how the cold and marginal Siberian environment has shaped the physiology and health of its inhabitants. He will describe how his research has helped to answer a number of fundamental physiological and adaptive questions that have vexed scientists since the early part of the twentieth century. In addition, Snodgrass will discuss how his research in Russia is helping to better understand how recent social and economic changes among native Siberians have influenced contemporary health, including the high burden of cardiovascular and metabolic disease that has emerged in the past decade. He describes how this research, conducted in one of the most extreme environments on Earth, can provide us with valuable insights into health conditions among people living in the United States and other wealthy nations.

J. Josh Snodgrass, Ph.D. is a biological anthropologist who has spent the past 15 years studying the limits of human adaptation to extreme environments and how the health of indigenous groups is altered by economic development and globalization. He completed his Ph.D. at Northwestern University and a National Institute of Health postdoctoral fellowship in cognitive and social neuroscience at the University of Chicago. He is currently Associate Professor of Anthropology and Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies at the University of Oregon, where he also directs an immunology/endocrinology research laboratory focused on the development and application of minimally invasive techniques for measuring physiology and health. He received the Michael A. Little Early Career Award from the Human Biology Association and was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. When not teaching or conducting research, he is often chasing his 5-year old daughter, Fiona, and their 10-year old German Shepherd, Chloe!

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