Lars Fehren-Schmitz

TitleAssistant Professor
DivisionSocial Sciences Division
DepartmentAnthropology Department
AffiliationsBiomolecular Science & Engineering,
Genomics Institute
Phone831-459-3851
Email
Web Site UCSC Human Paleogenomics Lab
Office301 Social Science 1
Office HoursM 12-1pm and by appointment
Campus Mail StopSocial Sciences 1 Faculty Services
Mail1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA
95064
Lars Fehren-Schmitz

Research Interests

My work at the UCSC Human Paleogenomics Lab looks at the twin forces of culture and biology in shaping human genomic diversity, demography and health. Since our species emerged around 200,000 years ago, humans have successfully occupied almost all of the planet’s terrestrial ecosystems, adapting to a multitude of novel stress factors, and persisting in an ever-changing world—changes that we humans have been increasingly responsible for in the last 10,000 years or so. My lab is especially interested in this period, the anthropocene, examining how modern-day humans’ genetic variability has arisen from niche construction and the co-evolution of genes and culture. Rather than inferring  models from modern genomic data, we analyze DNA from ancient humans, pathogens, and associated metagenomes, and remain attentive to the cultural and natural environments those humans inhabited.


My focus on population history considers the changes in climate and social complexity that have influenced the genetic structure and demography of past human populations. While most of my work has been done in South America, I increasingly study other parts of the world, using ancient human and pathogen DNA to find the demographic and epidemiological effects of European contact on Native American populations, and trace human dispersals in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caucasus, and Western Europe. I am also interested in gene-culture coevolution from such stressors as nutrition or high-altitude living, host-pathogen coevolution in illnesses like malaria and Chagas disease, and how epigenetic mechanisms that contribute to plasticity also drive evolution on the small and large scales.

Biography, Education and Training

MA in Biological Anthropology and in Archaeology, University of Goettingen, Germany
PhD (Dr. rer. nat) in Biology, University of Goettingen, Germany

Teaching Interests

Human Variability
Human Ecology
Anthropological Genetics
Bioarchaeology