Alan Goodman, professor of biological anthropology, teaches and writes on the health and nutritional consequences of political-economic processes such as poverty, inequality, and racism. His current research includes projects on malnutrition in Mexico and Egypt, and the stresses of slavery in New York.
Before coming to Hampshire, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts and was a postdoctoral fellow in international nutrition at University of Connecticut and a research fellow in stress physiology at Karolinska Institute, Stockholm.
Goodman previously served as Hampshire's dean of faculty and the president of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). He continues to co-direct the AAA's public education project on race (understandingrace.org).
This course focuses on the science of human genetic and biological variation. How does variation come about in evolution? Which variations have adaptive and functional significance and which are "just differences"? What is the evolutionary explanation, distribution, and significance of human variation in, for example, sickle cell anemia, skin color and sports performance? How are individuals grouped, how are differences studied, and to what purpose? This semester we will focus on the idea of race as a genetic construct versus lived, social reality and, in particular, how race is used in biomedical research. How did the idea of "natural" races arise, and how and why, despite key scientific flaws, does it persist? Finally we will examine health inequalities by race and the potential mechanisms by which racism may lead to poor health.
Are we what we eat? We eat foods for social and cultural reasons, and we eat foods because they contain nutrients that fuel our cells and allow us to function -- grow, think, and live. The quest for food is a major evolutionary theme and continues to profoundly shape ecological, social, and human biological systems. In this course we will consider some of the many ways that food and nutrition are related to the human condition, for example: (1) symbolic meanings of food, (2) the evolution of food systems to genetically modified foods, (3) the deadly synergy of malnutrition and infection, (4) the ecological and political-economic causes of undernutrition and obesity, and (5) "nutritional epidemiology" and the role of diet and nutrition in the etiology of diverse diseases. Throughout the course, we will focus on "doing nutritional anthropology," including assessing the dietary and nutritional status of individuals in our community.
The focus of this research course is on understanding nutrition, pollution and related problems via the chemical analysis of calcified tissues: dentine and especially enamel. Tooth enamel calcifies during the prenatal period and the first decade of life and is them essentially inert. Thus, enamel's chemical composition may reflect conditions during early development. Because enamel and dentine grow somewhat like trees (they also have growth rings!), one may use them as a mirror facing back in time. We are at the right moment to pursue this research because of recent developments in chemical instrumentation. We will look at other biological tissues that can provide evidence about pollution and nutritional information. In this research course we will intensively use our inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) and laser ablation (LA)-ICP-MS. The first part of this course will consist of an introduction to analytical techniques, elemental imaging techniques, the development and chemistry of hard tissues, and problems of metal pollution and elemental nutrition in the past and present. Some of the specific research questions we expect to address include how well enamel chemistry reflects diets and pollution exposure at the time of development. The main purpose of this course is to involve students in research. Thus, students will also almost immediately begin to work in small groups on a project such as those mentioned above. Prerequisite: Chemistry I & II, Nutritional Anthropology, Skeletal Biology or instructor permission required.
Professor of Biological Anthropology
Mail Code DO
Cole Science Center 110
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002