ANTH 242: Human Evolutionary Biology and Life History

This course is designed to examine biological diversity in Homo sapiens from the perspective of evolutionary and life history theory. Variation in growth, immune function, maturation, reproductive function, and senescence are reviewed in reference to their potential adaptive significance. We will focus particular attention on non-western populations and their responses to environmental constraints such as energy expenditure and caloric intake. There is no prerequisite for this course.

Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2015
Day/Time: Monday & Wednesday, 11:35a.m.-12:50p.m.

E&EB 228: Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases

Overview of the ecology and evolution of pathogens (bacteria, viruses, protozoa) and their impact on host populations. Topics include theoretical concepts, ecological and evolutionary dynamics, molecular biology, and epidemiology of ancient and emerging diseases.

Pre-requisites: BIOL 101-104 or permission of instructor

Course resources:

  • Syllabus


  • Spillover by David Quammen

Student evaluations

Professor: Paul Turner

E&EB 235a: Evolution and Medicine

Survey of evolutionary insights that make important differences in medical research and clinical practice, including evolutionary mechanisms and the medical issues they affect. Individual genetic variation in susceptibility; evolutionary conflicts and tradeoffs in reproductive medicine; the evolution of antibiotic resistance and virulence in pathogens; emerging diseases; the evolution of aging; cancer as an evolutionary process.

Lectures are available for asynchronous viewing online.  Short quizzes and responses to lectures are embedded in the lecture sequence. 

Lectures and readings should be viewed and read before class each week.  Readings are available for download as PDFs.

For medical students, the course is pass/fail based on engagement as assessed by responses to lectures (embedded in the lectures), discussion in class, and improvement of a Wikepedia entry.

For undergraduates and PhD students, the grade will be based 25% on responses to lectures, 25% on engagement in class and section, and 50% on a semester paper.  

Short Quizzes must be submitted for grading and individual feedback by no later than 12:00 noon on Tuesday.

There are no midterms, nor is there a final.

To allow for illness and engagements out of town, students may miss one class and may fail to respond to one set of lectures without penalty.  Otherwise attendance is expected.  

Students may not be allowed into class if the online system shows that they have not viewed and responded to the lectures by taking the quizzes assigned that week.

Professor: Stephen Stearns
Course Type: Undergraduate, Course Type: Graduate
Term: Fall 2013
Day/Time: Tuesday 7:00 pm - 8:50 pm

E&EB 461a/460b: Studies in Evolutionary Medicine

This two-term course begins in January.  Admission is by application only (see below). Students learn the major principles of evolutionary biology and apply them to issues in medical research and practice by presenting and discussing original papers from the current research literature. Students develop a research proposal based on one of their own questions in spring term, spend the summer on a research project related to their research proposal, and write a paper based on the results of their research in fall term.  The course meets for two 75-minute sessions each week.  Credit and grades are awarded for each term. Only students who have engaged in summer research projects may enroll in the fall term. Admission is by competitive application only. This course is intended as an orientation to the field for beginning PhD students in E&EB and E&PH and as a capstone course for highly qualified undergraduate and MPH students, primarily those interested in going on to graduate school, medical school, and MD/PhD programs.  Covering those areas of medical research and practice where evolutionary biology sheds useful new light, it brings students to the leading edge of research by having them present and discuss papers from the current literature, attend and discuss lectures by prominent scientists, carry out a summer research project, and write up their research results as a scientific paper with the support and feedback of the course instructors.

Special features:

  1. Several distinguished visiting professors per semester.  Students are required to attend the class and dinner with the visiting professor in a college.  Visiting lecturers for Spring 2015 include Dieter Ebert (Basel, February 13th), Josh Schiffman (Utah, April 15th), and Katie Hinde (Harvard, April 24th).
  2. Summer research projects hosted in labs at Yale and as arranged by students anywhere else in the world with approval of the instructors. Support for travel, subsistence, and research supplies will be provided. Students have done internships at the University of Oxford, the Pasteur Institute in Paris, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, at Yale, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, at the Universites of Liverpool, Florence, and Basel, and in the field in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, Ghana, and Dar es Salaam and Mwanza, Tanzania.

How to apply: 

Enrollment is limited to 8 undergraduates and 5-7 graduate/medical/SPH students.

Application deadline: January 11, 2015, midnight.

To apply for the course, please send these items:

1.     Your academic curriculum vitae including your full name, current status, email address, phone number (s), and mailing address.

2.     A statement of no more than 250 words explaining what you hope to derive from the course, where it fits in your career development, and your preparation for it.

3.     An abstract of no more than 150 words on your preliminary ideas for a potential summer research project, including potential mentors/hosts.

4.     An unofficial copy of your most recent transcript.

Combine these into a single document and title it YourLastNameApplication.

Send applications by email to Steve Stearns (

Professor: Stephen Stearns, Professor: Paul Turner, Professor: Durland Fish, Professor: Alison Galvani, Professor: James Childs
Course Type: Undergraduate, Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2015, Term: Fall 2015
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday 4:00 pm - 5:15 pm