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Meet The Team



Tara J. Cepon-Robins, Ph.D.


Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.

Education: B.A., Marquette University, 2007; M.S., University of Oregon, 2009; Ph.D., University of Oregon, 2015.

I am interested in the effects of lifestyle and global climate change on immune system development and coevolutionary relationships between humans and parasites/pathogens. Ongoing research includes work with rural communities in the southern United States, with the Shuar of Amazonian Ecuador, and with the UCCS Gerontology Research Affiliates. My research centers around how lifestyle and environment affect disease exposure and how this affects human health.


Theresa E. Gildner, Ph.D.


Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Education: B.S., University of Notre Dame, 2011; M.S., University of Oregon, 2013; Ph.D., University of Oregon, 2018.


I study how lifestyle variation and environmental conditions influence infectious disease risk (especially parasitic disease), and how these factors can produce and perpetuate health inequities. My work utilizes a biocultural approach, strongly rooted in life history theory, to examine how lifestyle variation influences individual physiology and immune function. I am also interested in understanding how these interactions can be used to design more effective disease intervention programs. 



Elizabeth Mallott

Samuel Urlacher

Courtney Manthey-Pierce


Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis

Education: B.A., Grinnell College, 2006; Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2016.

Director, Microbial Ecology and Human Health Lab


I am interested in how social and environmental factors shape the gut microbiome, and how gut microbial plasticity influences health and fitness. My research uses a comparative approach across the primate order to examine how host-microbe relationships support energetic strategies in humans. I am also interested in the role of the gut microbiome in contributing to or reinforcing health disparities.


Assistant Professor in the Department of Anrhropology at Baylor Univeristy

Education: B.S., Brown Univeristy, 2009; Ph.D., Harvard University, 2016.

Director, Human Evolutionary Biology and Health Lab


I am an anthropologist and human evolutionary biologist with an integrative biocultural research program. My lab's primary aim is to define the evolved energetic pathways that drive variation in human development, metabolism, and health. To do so, we address a range of research questions that span the traditional disciplines of human biology, behavioral ecology, evolutionary medicine, and global health. 

Senior Professional Research Assistant, University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Education: B.A., University of Colorado Colorado Springs, 2018; M.A., University of Colorado Denver, 2020.

To say biological anthropology is my passion is an understatement. My name is Courtney Manthey-Pierce, and I recently earned my M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Colorado Denver. While earning my M.A. degree, I examined polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) as an authentic evolutionary mismatch disorder using genome-wide association study data. I also completed a Master of Public Health Certificate in Maternal and Child Health from the Anschutz Medical Campus, focusing on nutrition and biological development.


This autumn (2021) I will begin applying to PhD programs. My goal is to further examine the impacts of maternal testosterone on the evolution of Hominin ancestors in order to gain a better understanding of the evolution of extant females’ endocrine systems and bone composition.

Current Graduate Students


Jade Thomas

Anthropology PhD student at Washington University in St. Louis

Education: B.S. in Biological Sciences, University of Missouri - Columbia, 2019; B.A. in Anthropology, University of Missouri - Columbia, 2019

My name is Jade Thomas, I am a first-year Biological Anthropology graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis under Dr. Theresa Gildner. I am most interested in researching the relationships between pathogens, inflammation, and the human immune system through the lens of evolutionary medicine and life history theory. I also hope to study how these relationships might influence the development and/or progression of autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases. 

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Katie Nemeth

Anthropology PhD student at Washington University in St. Louis

Education: B.S in biology, George Washington University 2019

I am a first year, biological anthropology, PhD student at Washington University in St. Louis. I am interested in studying biocultural health determinants related to immune function, specifically how immune response to chronic or infectious disease impacts skeletal health and development.

Current Student Research Assistants


Sophie Waimon

I am a junior at Washington University in St. Louis studying Anthropology: Global Health and Environment with a minor in Spanish. I hope to complete an MD/MPH program in the future. I am interested in how social and Enironmental factors shape human health and am passionate about providing health care that considers the many social determinants of health. 


In my free time, you'll probably find me in a theatre working tech crew for a production. I also enjoying hiking, spending time outdoors, and baking!


Angela Zhang

I’m a senior studying anthropology and biology at Washington University in St. Louis. I’m interested in biological and cultural anthropology, and I want to learn more about how sociocultural factors influence human health. My goal is to work in the medical field and play a part in improving health disparities and outcomes.


In my free time, I like to crochet, read, and watch sunsets at the beach (when I’m home in California).


Alex Shing

Alex is a Junior majoring in Environmental Biology and minoring in Global Health and the Environment at Washington University in St. Louis. He is interested in tackling health and environmental inequities, especially involving NTDs.

Past Student Research Assistants

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Samantha Weaver

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Sarah Riley

I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2022 with a degree in Anthropology: Global Health and Environment with a minor in Spanish.


In the future I hope to get into an MD/MPH program. I am passionate about the intersection of the environment and human health and using that knowledge to be an engaged community member and provide informed healthcare.  


Outside of the classroom, I enjoy playing varsity basketball for the WashU Bears, volunteering, and spending time outdoors. 

I am a junior at University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) majoring in Anthropology with a minor in Criminal Justice. In the future, I hope to attend graduate school in Tennessee to receive my doctorate in forensic anthropology.

Currently I am assisting Dr. Cepon-Robins and Dr. Gildner with the REACH project. I am hoping to get the opportunity to work with them in the field soon and learn more about the research process in-person.

When I am not studying or working, I am typically hiking some of my favorite trails, such as the Bluffs and Red Rock Canyon, with my dog. I also spend my free time watching my favorite shows like Criminal Minds and Bones.


Isabella C. Recca

I am a recent graduate (class of 2021) of University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) studying Anthropology with a minor in Psychology.

I accompanied Dr. Cepon-Robins and Dr. Gildner to rural Mississippi (Summer 2019) as a research assistant and have continued to assist Dr. Cepon-Robins in the lab at UCCS.

Outside of academics, I spend my time with a camera in my hand taking nature photographs. Some of the photos featured on this site were taken by me.

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Brianna Miller

I graduated from UCCS in May 2021 with a major in Anthropology and a minor in Philosophy.

I was been a student of Dr. Cepon-Robins for three years and have expressed great interest in Biological Anthropology.

I plan on furthering my education in Medical Anthropology and eventually studying the processes that contribute to disease diagnoses and the systems that inform and create treatment plans. I am passionate about understanding and documenting the variety of treatment plans people experience when faced with disease, especially the complexity of those plans as they relate to different types of illnesses.

Julie Deleger

Hi, I’m Julie! I’m a senior at Washington University in St. Louis, from Oakland, California. I’m currently on the Pre-Health track, pursuing a double major in Anthropology: Global Health & Environment and Biology, with a minor in General Economics.

I’m excited to join the REACH project team and am looking forward to contributing to Dr. Gildner’s and Dr. Cepon-Robins continued research! I hope to incorporate the knowledge and perspectives I acquire to promote more structurally sound and sensitive approaches to healthcare. 

In my free time, you’ll find me making crêpes for my friends or hiking with my dog, Maddie.

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