Lecturer in Evolutionary Anthropology
Office: BS 4.42 James Parsons Building, Byrom Street, Liverpool, L3 3AF
+44 0151 904 16062
At the broadest level, I am interested in what determines variation in skeletal shape. In my past research I have focused on skeletal plasticity, the adaptive and neutral influences on hominin crania, and climatic adaptation in human and non-human primates. Currently, my main research employs a macaque model to investigate the morphological consequences of hybridisation between closely related taxa. My results will enable me to make important inferences about the effects of human interbreeding with extinct lineages (e.g., Neanderthals). The methods I employ include computed tomography, 3D laser scanning, manipulation of digital data (e.g., segmentation and virtual measurement), geometric morphometric methods and traditional morphometrics.
Current Research Projects
Morphological Consequences of Hybridization in Primate and Human Evolution
This is a National Science Foundation funded, collaborative project led by Professor Tim Weaver (University of California, Davis, USA). We use hybrid macaques to better understand the consequences of hybridisation on the primate skeleton and to develop criteria for detecting morphological evidence of hybridisation in the fossil record.
The ADaPt Project: Adaptation, Dispersals and Phenotype
This project investigates the scale and nature of human adaptation to climate using a comparative macaque proxy. On-going work within this project includes investigations into Jomon foragers and the signatures of developmental plasticity and directional selection in macaque climatic adaptation.
Craniofacial Morphology, Adaptation and Paranasal Sinuses in Pleistocene Hominins
An investigation of the craniofacial morphology of Pleistocene hominins and its relationship with sinus size and function, in which I used more precise virtual methods to provide support for emerging arguments that theories regarding cold adaptation of Neanderthal sinuses and craniofacial morphology are erroneous
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Previous Research Projects and Academic Activities
Laura’s previous academic activities include:
- Investigating the Human Fossil Cranium from Kabua (Kenya).
- Who Made the Hole? The Ksâr ‘Akil Shell Project.
- Co-chair of the Cambridge Biotomography Centre, University of Cambridge