I work under Dr. Bethany Usher in the Anthropology department at George Mason University. My project is about comparing the postnatal development of humans to other primates. The goal is to determine whether humans develop slower and less independent than other primates when looking across multiple life history variables, such as gestation, weaning period, and amount of time it takes to mature to adulthood. The goal is to find out where on the spectrum do humans lie compared to other primates and the reasons why this might be. The results will hopefully be presented at the NCUR 20016 conference.
On a weekly basis, I read and collect data from scientific journals on primate development. I then organized this data in an excel spread sheet and apply statistical techniques to test my hypothesis. I also investigate other related current topics of interest within the field of anthropology.
This relates to my long term goals because the field that I am studying which is biology relies heavily on research. Even though I intend to enter the medical field as a doctor rather than become a researcher, I believe that it is important to understand the fundamental ideas that goes into the process. This opportunity has also provided writing, research, teamwork and critical thinking skills that I believe can be of use to me in all of my future ambitions.
This past week I was tasked with researching ways to obtain dietary data from ancient humans. During my investigation, I learned that it is possible to determine the diets of ancient humans by analyzing dental calculi which is hardened dental plaque. Pollen grains, bacteria, and other environmental samples are trapped in these calculi over the human lifespan and remain in the teeth post mortem and are easily extractable for analysis. This is of great interest to me because the great amount of biology skills that I have learned are used in this technology.