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Dr. Josh Snodgrass -- Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring

Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring
I am dedicated to teaching and enjoy the opportunity to engage students with a range of abilities, interests, and life experiences. In all my classes I emphasize integration across the subfields of anthropology and bridging between anthropology and other disciplines such as biology, epidemiology, human physiology, and nutritional sciences. I also emphasize the connections between classroom learning and present day issues in all of my courses. I believe in challenging students with complex and controversial ideas and strive to create a safe and respectful classroom, while giving students the tools with which to grapple with these issues.

Undergraduate Research Supervision
In addition to my regular courses and annual FIG class (Paging Dr. Darwin), I work closely with undergraduates in several different capacities. I direct a research laboratory (The Human Biology Research Lab), which
focuses on the development and application of minimally invasive techniques (e.g., dried blood spots and saliva) for assessing health and physiology in population-based research, and creates research opportunities for undergraduates.

I also work closely with several students each year on original research projects, including through the Clark Honors College. In the last several years, I've advised a number of Honors College students including:
  • Eryn Block (graduated 2012): "When reaching for the stars isn't enough: Possible reasons for and solutions to the post-secondary expectation-preparation misalignment in low-socioeconomic status high school students" (Eryn graduated as one of the Oregon 6)
  • Alison Widmer (graduated 2012): "Cultural and evolutionary origins of Alzheimer's Disease"
  • Kathryn Schweber (graduated 2013): "Health effects of social change among the indigenous Yakut (Sakha) of Siberia: The influence of chronic psychosocial stress on Epstein-Barr virus antibodies, C-reactive protein, and blood pressure"
  • Sierra Thompson (graduated 2013): "Diet, market integration, and chronic inflammation among an indigenous Amazonian Ecuadorian population"
  • Will Olson (graduated 2014): "The Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE): Depression and body composition among aging populations"
  • Austin Wong (graduated 2015): "The Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE): Body composition measures among aging populations"

will olson at ser conference
Undergraduate Will Olson presents his thesis research--part of the WHO's Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE)--
at the annual meeting of the Society for Epidemiologic Research (Seattle, June 2014)

I also work closely with a number of students who are not part of the Clark Honors College. In the past few years, these students have done original research that they have presented at national conferences. These include:
  • Heather Shattuck-Faegre (graduated 2010): "The Shuar Health and Life History Project: Immune pathways and Epstein-Barr virus" presented at the 2011 annual meeting of the Human Biology Association in Minneapolis, MN (with co-authors Julia Ridgeway-Diaz, Aaron Blackwell, Felicia Madimenos, Melissa Liebert, Erica Squires, Larry Sugiyama, and Josh Snodgrass. Heather is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.
  • Liz Streeter (graduated 2013): Liz worked in my lab for two years and presented the results of her research at two national conferences--the 2012 and 2013 annual meeting of the Human Biology Association (in Portland and Knoxville, respectively). The papers were: 1) "The Indigenous Siberian Health and Adaptation Project: Adiponectin, body composition, and cardiovascular health among the Yakut (Sakha) of Siberia" (2012, with coauthors Erica Squires, Bill Leonard, Larissa Tarskaia, Tatiana Klimova, Valentina Fedorova, Marina Baltakhinova, Vadim Krivoshapkin, and Josh Snodgrass) and 2) "The Indigenous Siberian Health and Adaptation Project: Tissue hypoxia, adiponectin dysregulation, and hemoglobin levels among the Yakut (Sakha) of Siberia" (2013, with coauthors Erica Squires, Bill Leonard, Larissa Tarskaia, Tatiana Klimova, Valentina Fedorova, Marina Baltakhinova, Vadim Krivoshapkin, and Josh Snodgrass).
  • Lauren Hawkins (graduated 2012): "The Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE): Socioeconomic status, urban-rural differences, and sleep in older adults from five middle income countries" presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the Human Biology Association in Knoxville, TN (with Josh Snodgrass, Theresa Gildner, Melissa Liebert, Paul Kowal, and Somnath Chatterji).
  • Vimal Balu (graduated 2014): "The Indigenous Siberian Health and Adaptation Project: Seasonal variation in autoimmune thyroid disorders among the Yakut (Sakha) of Siberia" presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the Human Biology Association in Knoxville, TN (with coauthors Tara Cepon, Stephanie Levy, Bill Leonard, Larissa Tarskaia, Tatiana Klimova, Valentina Fedorova, Marina Baltakhinova, Vadim Krivoshapkin, and Josh Snodgrass).
  • Tyler Barrett (graduated 2015): "Physical activity, functional abilities, and health: Results of a WHO SAGE sub-study among older adults in an urban setting in India" presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the Society for Epidemiologic Research in Seattle, WA (with coauthors Melissa Liebert, Tara Cepon-Robins, Arvind Mathur, Paul Kowal, and Josh Snodgrass).
  • Robyn Brigham (graduated 2015): "Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE): The effects of social cohesion and personal relationships on depression diagnosis among older adults in India." presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the Human Biology Association in St. Louis, MO (with coauthors Theresa Gildner, Melissa Liebert, Paul Kowal, and Josh Snodgrass).
Williams Fellowship for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching
In 2012 I was named the 2012-2013 Williams Fellow for the University of Oregon in recognition of distinguished undergraduate teaching at the University of Oregon. The Williams Fellowship includes two awards:
A $5000 award that goes toward my teaching and collaborative research with undergraduates, and a second $5000 award to "affect tangibly the teaching and learning experience of undergraduates at the departmental level."

My goal with the Williams Fellowship is to advance undergraduate research by: 1) increasing information and mentoring available to undergraduates related to research opportunities; 2) creating opportunities for undergraduates to conduct original research; and 3) providing funds for undergraduates to present the results of their original research at national or international conferences. In addition to providing research and conference travel support for my undergraduate advisees, I used the Williams Fellowship funds along with a matching contribution from anthropology to start two programs in Fall 2012:
  • Undergraduate Research and Conference Travel Award Program. The program provides $2000 each year for at least four years to support anthropology majors and minors.
  • Undergraduate-Graduate Research Mentorship Program. The goal of the program is to provide information and mentoring to undergraduates on research opportunities at the UO and more generally about conducting original research in anthropology and related fields. The program also provides advice and information about applying into graduate and professional school. In 2012-2013, the three graduate student mentors are Rory Walsh (Archaeology), Andrea Eller (Biological Anthropology), and Ivan Sandoval-Cervantes (Cultural Anthropology). The graduate students hold at least one meeting per term and also make themselves available to undergraduates throughout the year to provide advice and mentoring, as appropriate, on a one-on-one or group basis.
Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award
I was recently awarded the inaugural Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award, which "recognizes and celebrates the positive impact of exceptional advising and mentoring on the student educational experience." The award ceremony was covered by Around the O (story). In 2015 I won a national faculty advising award (Outstanding Faculty Advising Award Certificate of Merit) from NACADA (the National Academic Advising Association); the story was covered by Around the O. In order to be eligible to receive the awards I had to submit a statement about my advising philosophy. Here is the statement submitted as part of the UO award nomination process:

My advising and mentoring philosophy is built upon the following beliefs:

Student support through high-quality advising. I strive to support students through high-quality advising on the requirements in the Biological Anthropology concentration, the Anthropology major/minor, and the University's General Education requirements. I take pride in knowing these requirements and feel it is my responsibility to provide knowledgeable advice and to help students think through their college careers in a holistic manner, with particular attention paid to how students can integrate their major(s) with the General Education requirements and their electives. I feel strongly that this holistic approach should start early in their college careers and I work closely with my FIG teaching assistants to make advising a central component of my FIG courses. Furthermore, I advise a number of students through the College Scholars program (I have taught my Evolutionary Medicine course as part of the program for several years and also serve on the CS Advisory Board), and advise students about engaging in original research during their undergraduate education.

Availability and approachability. My goal is to be as available and approachable as possible both for regular advising of students in my courses and for the subset of students (usually around 15-20 per year) that I closely advise and mentor intensively. Because I teach a large number of undergraduates (approximately 2500 students in the past 6 years) and am viewed as an accessible professor, I spend a lot of time advising undergraduates on a range of issues related to the Anthropology major/minor, other aspects of the university's requirements, and on a variety of other issues. I go out of my way to be available to all my students (regardless of their performance in my classes) in office hours and am always willing to find additional times for students should they not be able to attend regular office hours. I make myself available to discuss matters beyond coursework and program requirements, and I provide a safe, non-judgmental space for students to discuss issues such as the choice to pursue graduate training or how best to make themselves successful on the job market. I believe in personally investing in students in order to provide them with support and encouragement and to push them to be excited about science. Because I am aware of the reality that my time is extremely limited, I started a program in Anthropology--the Undergraduate Graduate Research Mentorship Program (UGRMP), initially funded by a Williams Fellow Award that I received in 2011 but then continued with matching funds from my department--that pays three graduate students from Anthropology to provide mentoring to undergraduates on research and professional development. Over the past two years I have worked closely with these graduate students to develop lectures and events that address such topics as how to get involved with research, how to market yourself for a job, and how to prepare for presenting at a professional conference.

Close mentoring on experiential learning and the creation of research and outreach opportunities. I work tirelessly to create opportunities for students to engage in experiential learning outside of the classroom, and then intensively mentor a small number of students (~5-10 per year) as they navigate these waters. These opportunities are diverse, as is the mentoring strategy that follows. These include field opportunities, such as involving undergraduate Biology student Ruby Fried in field research on health change in Amazonian Ecuador as part of the Shuar Health and Life History Project; Ruby then went on to take a job at the National Institutes of Health and is now a PhD student at Northwestern University. I have created laboratory experiences for a number of students, and the associated intensive mentoring helps students transition from learning specific technical skills like running immunoassays to analyzing data in order to address original research questions. One recent star student was Anthropology undergraduate Liz Streeter who worked for two years in my lab and then went on to present two papers at national conferences, including an outstanding poster ("The Indigenous Siberian Health and Adaptation Project: Tissue hypoxia, adiponectin dysregulation, and hemoglobin levels among the Yakut (Sakha) of Siberia") at the meeting of the Human Biology Association in Knoxville, TN in 2013. Furthermore, as Book Review Editor for the American Journal of Human Biology, I've had the opportunity to create an editorial assistant position for an undergraduate, and am currently working with Anthropology and Journalism major Tyler Barrett, who I am mentoring through all stages of the editing and production process. In addition, I have worked closely to mentor several undergraduates in community outreach activities, including through the annual Huerto de la Familia (The Family Garden) health fair that I co-sponsor (along with Head Start of Lane County, Volunteers in Medicine, and White Bird Clinic), which serves low income Latino families in the Eugene/Springfield area. This past March, I worked closely with Anthropology undergraduate Blanche Blumenthal to develop and administer an intensive training program for volunteers and health care professionals, and together we closely mentored 20 UO undergraduate students who participated in the event as part of the Holden Leadership Center team and as members of the UO Alternative Spring Break program.

High expectations and encouragement to pursue their dreams. Similar to my teaching philosophy in which I challenge students with complex and controversial ideas yet give them the tools with which to grapple with these issues, I have high expectations of the students who I mentor and strive to provide them with the skills, intellectual tools, and mentoring to reach their goals. I work closely each year with a small number of exceptional students on original research projects and I push them to succeed but provide close mentoring to give them the intellectual and technical skills to succeed. I also strive to provide the emotional support to these students since I recognize the enormous intellectual challenges and the potential psychological barriers they face. I believe that given the right environment and effective mentoring students can reach their full potential and succeed in producing stellar original research. A recent example is a current undergraduate--Biology major Will Olson--who has worked in my lab for two years. I encouraged Will to work on an independent project based on original research, and this could then serve as the basis for his Honors College thesis. We settled on analysis of the examination of links between depression and obesity among older adults in six middle income countries based on data that I had helped organize the collection of as part of the World Health Organization's Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE). This research pushed Will out of his comfort zone as he was inexperienced in research design and statistical analysis. Along with one of my exceptional graduate students (Melissa Liebert), I worked closely with Will to develop basic skills of data analysis and to analyze data from the project's massive dataset. With this mentoring and support in place, Will rose to the challenge and did an outstanding job on the research and presented a poster ("The Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE): Depression and body composition among aging populations") at the meeting of the Human Biology Association in Calgary, Canada last month. All paid off as Will was awarded the Hilde Spielvogel Award for Outstanding Presentation by an Undergraduate Student at the Human Biology Association meeting. This research experience helped to confirm Will's interest in health research and after completing his undergraduate degree in June he will be starting a PhD program in biochemistry at University of Wisconsin. It is my firm belief that in order for our undergraduates to achieve academic distinction, we must strive to create opportunities for them and to provide the close mentoring and support--intellectually and emotionally--that will allow them to achieve their potential.

dia de salud blood collection training
A University of Oregon undergraduate learns how to collect blood from a finger prick in preparation for
Huerto de la Familia's annual health fair (Photo by Nicolette Dent)

Campus Leadership on Undergraduate Education and Advanced Opportunities
I am currently on the advisory board of the College Scholars Program. I
served as Chair of the University of Oregon's Undergraduate Council from 2012-2014. Check out the Council's website for information on our charge, the issues they are currently working on.

I was also the faculty advisor for the UO hosted undergraduate-led Western Regional International Health Conference. The real work of the conference was done by a fabulous group of highly motivated undergraduates, most notably Kylie Juggert. The conference was incredibly successful and has led to partnerships with researchers at OSU and OHSU, and helped build momentum for the launching of UO's Center for Global Health at UO. Many of my students presented their research at the conference.


Anth 175: Evolutionary Medicine (
Anth 199: Paging Dr. Darwin (Freshman Interest Group College Connections Course) (Syllabus)
Anth 270: Introduction to Biological Anthropology (Syllabus)
Anth 362: Human Biological Variation (
Anth 369: Human Growth & Development (
Anth 468/568: Evolutionary Theory (
Anth 487/587: Bioanthropology Methods (Syllabus)
Anth 610: Current Topics in Biological Anthropology (Syllabus)

2015-2016 Teaching Schedule

Fall 2015
Anth 175: Evolutionary Medicine
Anth 199: Students Without Borders FIG (Dr. Jeff Measelle [Psychology] is the primary instructor)

Winter 2016
Anth 369: Human Growth and Development

Spring 2016

No teaching--Research Term

Course Descriptions
Application of evolutionary thinking to the study of human health and disease. This course provides an introduction
to evolutionary (or Darwinian) medicine, a relatively new field that recognizes that evolutionary processes and human evolutionary history shape health among contemporary human populations. The field of evolutionary medicine
emphasizes ultimate explanations, such as how natural selection and other evolutionary forces shape our susceptibility
to disease; this perspective complements that of biomedicine, which generally focuses on identifying the immediate mechanisms that give rise to diseases and malfunctions. The evolutionary medicine approach has provided insights
into why diseases occur at all and additionally has produced valuable insights on treatment strategies. This course will examine a variety of diseases using an evolutionary perspective, including infectious diseases, mental disorders, and cancers. The course will emphasize chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes, and will
focus particular attention on the role of diet and psychosocial stress in the development and progression of these conditions.
Last taught: Fall 2015 (and Spring 2014 as part of the College Scholars program)
Next taught: Fall 2016

ANTH 199: COLLEGE CONNECTIONS FIG--PAGING DR. DARWIN (Course Website from First-Year Programs)
This FIG is a redesigned version of a FIG course (Footprints We Leave) that I taught for five years. The new FIG--Paging Dr. Darwin--introduces the field of evolutionary (or Darwinian) medicine, which emphasizes how evolutionary processes and human evolutionary history shape our susceptibility to disease. The college connections course links two courses (Evolutionary Medicine [ANTH 175] & Introduction to Human Physiology [BI 121]) that approach human biology and health from complementary perspectives. In addition to their shared focus on the fundamental structure and function of the human body, these courses will show you how an evolutionary approach can illuminate the role the environment plays in shaping human biology, behavior, and health. One of the principal goals of this FIG is to make these connections explicit and to focus on the overarching principles that link the subject matter in these two courses. A second goal of this FIG is to help you develop the skills and identify the resources you need to thrive academically and personally at the U of O. Co-taught in Fall 2014 with
FIG Assistant Renee Arnett.
Last taught: Fall 2014
Next taught: TBA

josh snodgrass at convocation with fig student
At UO's Fall Convocation with a student from my Footprints We Leave FIG

This course examines the biological aspects of the human species from comparative and evolutionary perspectives.
It is designed to be a comprehensive introduction to biological, or physical, anthropology. In brief, biological
anthropology is the study of human biology within the framework of evolution. As one of the four subdisciplines of anthropology, biological anthropology is a critical component in the education of all students in the discipline. In this course, we will investigate human biology through the study of genetics, population biology, and the principles of
evolution. Since the comparative method is a key method in biological anthropology and other sciences, we will
review the evolution, ecology, and behavior of the living non-human primates. We will also evaluate the evolution of human adaptability and investigate the various ways in which the human species has adapted--and is continuing to
adapt--to habitats around the world. Finally, we shall examine the fossil record of the evolution of the human lineage. After participating in this course, students will have an appreciation of key theoretical and methodological issues in
this anthropological subdiscipline, and will be prepared to enter upper-level courses in biological anthropology.
Last taught: Fall 2011
Next taught: TBA

Genetic and biological structure of human populations; population dynamics and causes of diversity; analysis
of genetically differentiated human populations and their geographic distribution. This course will examine genetic
and phenotypic variation in contemporary human populations. We use an evolutionary biocultural framework to
understand how adaptation to various ecological stressors (e.g., temperature, solar radiation, altitude, and nutrition) promotes human biological diversity. In addition, we will discuss how recent cultural changes (e.g., agriculture, industrialization, and urbanization) shape human variation and health, with an emphasis on chronic diseases such
as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
Last taught: Spring 2015
Next taught: TBA

Examines key issues in human and nonhuman primate growth and development; addresses genetic, social, and
ecological determinants of variation in growth. This course provides an overview of key issues in human growth and development, from conception through adulthood. Specifically, this course views human growth and development as
a biocultural process that demands an integrated analysis. Throughout the class, we will draw upon findings and
concepts from human biology, evolutionary ecology, developmental biology, and cultural anthropology. Issues to be addressed in this course include: 1) the basic principles of human growth and development; 2) comparative
 evolutionary perspectives on human growth, incorporating studies of living primates and fossil human ancestors;
3) techniques for assessing human growth status; and 4) genetic, social, and ecological determinants of variation
in growth. After constructing a conceptual framework, the course will follow the trajectory of human growth and
development from conception through adulthood. A series of case studies will be used to elaborate the relevant
biological, cultural, and social issues.
Last taught: Fall 2014
Next taught: Winter 2016

josh snodgrass methods picture
Running a lab on cardiovascular health in my Bioanthropology
Methods course
(Anth 487/587), Spring term 2009

This course provides a theoretical framework in evolutionary biology with which to explore human evolutionary history
and aspects of modern human biology and behavior. After surveying the historical development of evolutionary theory
and the state of current knowledge regarding mechanisms of evolutionary change, we turn our attention to patterns
and processes in human evolution. Issues to be addressed in this course include the evolution of primate life histories,
the origin of modern human biological variation, and evolutionary medicine.
Last taught: Spring 2008 (by Dr. Snodgrass); Winter 2012 (by Dr. Kirstin Sterner)
Next taught: TBA

A laboratory-based introduction to research methods in biological anthropology. This course provides an overview of research methods used in biological anthropology, with an emphasis on research among living humans. The course
will introduce students to the process of research design, data analysis, and interpretation. The course will meet in
the Physical Anthropology Teaching Laboratory (368 Condon Hall), and individual class meetings will be split between discussions of various methods for assessing human biological functioning and hands-on application of laboratory techniques.
Last taught: Spring 2011
Next taught: TBA

This course serves as a core graduate requirement for biological anthropology students but may also be appropriate for other students in anthropology or other disciplines. The course introduces students to key issues in human evolutionary biology through an in-depth examination of current research and controversies in biological anthropology. The course emphasizes topics that cut across multiple areas of biological anthropology, and which require integration of datasets from paleoanthropology, human biology, primatology, anthropological genetics, and behavioral ecology.
Last taught: Spring 2012
Next taught: TBA

thank you dr. snodgrass
A message for me on my last day of class in Evolutionary Medicine--it made my day!!

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