Evolutionary Biology of Physical Activity Lab
Evolutionary Biology of Physical Activity Lab
Evolutionary Biology of Physical Activity Lab
We are looking for a post-doc to start winter, spring, or summer 2023
We seek a post-doctoral scholar to assist with an interdisciplinary multi-institution study funded by the National Institute on Aging examining associations between physical activity, sedentary behavior, and brain health in older adults. The successful candidate will have substantial input in the nature and the direction of these ongoing research projects and will be encouraged to explore projects that broadly fit within the lab’s research interests. Specific job duties will be adapted based on the interests and career goals of the postdoctoral scholar. Opportunities are available for both method development as well as collaboration with colleagues analyzing neuroimaging and genomics data. Additional information about our lab and research can be found at: www.raichlenlab.com.
The postdoctoral scholar is expected to perform analyses of large-scale wearable accelerometer, questionnaire, and health records data from multiple human populations and collaborate with scientists at other institutions. This individual will also lead projects, work in a multidisciplinary environment, and present/publish results in scientific conferences/journals. Additionally, the postdoctoral scholar will mentor graduate and/or undergraduate students in the lab.
Funding is available for at least 2 years. Position is renewable annually after 2 years contingent upon satisfactory progress. Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience and expertise. The University of Southern California offers a competitive benefits package including medical, dental, vision, life insurance, and short- and long-term disability insurance.
Candidates should have a Ph.D. in exercise science, evolutionary anthropology, psychology, computational biology, epidemiology/public health, biomechanics, or a related field. Proficiency in one or more programming languages (e.g. R, python, matlab, etc.) is necessary. Experience in conducting epidemiology research and analyzing large datasets is a plus, but not required. Review of applications will begin immediately, and priority given to those received by October 31, 2022. Position will remain open until filled. Start date is flexible and can be winter, spring, or summer 2023.
Interested candidates should submit a CV, short (1-2 pages) cover letter describing your research interests and fit within the lab, and contact information for 2 references. Informal inquiries are welcomed and can be addressed to Dr. David Raichlen at email@example.com.
Our lab is focused on understanding how humans' unique evolutionary history explains modern human physiological variation and how we can use an evolutionary context to improve health and well-being today. Specifically, we argue that a shift towards high levels of physical activity during our transition to hunting and gathering in the past led to a physiological requirement for physical activity to maintain the health of organ systems from our brains, to our cardiovascular system, to our musculoskeletal system. While we explore the links between human evolution, physical activity, and health across the lifespan, we believe this perspective can play a major role in preventing and managing diseases that occur late in life. In the end, a full understanding of our evolutionary history will help explain how and why our current, more sedentary lifestyle impacts our physical and mental health, and how we can use this evolutionary context to improve well-being today.
Our research program has three main components:
1) Reconstructing activity levels during human evolution (evolutionary biomechanics)
2) Exploring energetics and physical activity levels in extant taxa, including human hunter-gatherers
3) Linking the evolution of high physical activity levels to physiology, neurobiology, and health in extant humans
Evolutionary links between physical activity and brain health
Our lab is interested in the interaction between physical activity, neurobiology, and physiology in extant taxa, including humans. Work in our lab (and others) suggests that aerobic activity increased greatly during human evolution. We are currently examining the effects of endurance exercise on the evolution of the human brain with a specific focus on how and why physical activity improves cognitive health across the lifespan. Current projects include:
Physical activity, sedentary behaviors, health, and aging in hunter-gatherers
Energy use is a main target of natural selection and our lab is involved in several projects examining physical activity and inactivity in humans living in small-scale societies. These projects are all aimed at understanding how changes in physical activity and sedentary behavior affected human evolutionary physiology and disease risk. Many of these projects involve field studies using accelerometry and other objective methods to measure physical activity levels. Recent projects include:
Evolutionary Biomechanics and Physiology
Our lab uses comparative biomechanics and physiology to reconstruct patterns of physical activity during human evolution. Our basic approach is to identify links between anatomy and locomotor performance (speed, energy costs, endurance, etc.) in living taxa. We use these links to understand locomotor performance in the fossil record. Recent projects include:
Raichlen DA, Klimentidis YC, Sayre MK, Bharadwaj PK, Lai MHC, Wilcox RR, Alexander GE. Leisure-time sedentary behaviors are differentially associated with all-cause dementia regardless of engagement in physical activity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Ramadan, F., Bea, J.W., Garcia, D.O., Ellingson, K., Canales, R.A., Raichlen, D.A., Klimentidis, Y.C. Association of Sedentary and Physical Activity Behaviors with Body Composition: a Genome-Wide Association and Mendelian Randomization Study. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine
Kraft, T.S., Venkataraman, V.V., Wallace, I.J., Holowka, N.B., Raichlen, D.A., Crittenden, A.N., Wood, B.M., Gurven, M., Pontzer, H. The energetics of uniquely human subsistence strategies. Science. 374: eabf0130
Raichlen, D.A. & Pontzer, H. Energetic and endurance constraints on great ape quadrupedalism and the benefits of hominin bipedalism. Evolutionary Anthropology. 30:253-261.
Careau V.,…Raichlen, D.A.,… Speakman, J.R., IAEA DLW Database Consortium. Energy compensation and adiposity in humans. Current Biology. 31: 1-8.
Pontzer, H…,.Raichlen, D.A.,…Speakman, J.R., IAEA DLW Database Consortium. Daily energy expenditure through the human life course. Science. 373:808-812.
Westerterp K.R.,…Raichlen, D.A.,… Speakman, J.R., IAEA DLW Database Consortium. Physical activity and fat-free mass during growth and in later life. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Wood, B.M., Harris, J.A., Raichlen, D.A., Pontzer, H., Sayre, M.K., Sancilio, A., Berbesque, C., Critttendon, A., Mabulla, A., McElreath, R., Cashdan, E., Jones, J.H. The ecology of gendered foraging predicts movement patterns and landscape use in a hunter-gatherer society. Nature Human Behavior
Pontzer, H., Brown, M,.H., Wood, B.M., Raichlen, D.A., Mabilla, A.Z.P., Harris, J.A., Dunsworth, H., Hare, B., Walker, K., Luke, A., Dugas, L.R., Schoeller, D., Plange-Rhule, J., Bovet, P., Forreter, T.E., Emery Thompson, M., Shumaker, R.W., Rothman, J.M., Vogel, E., Sulistyo, F., Alavi, S., Prasetyo, D., Urlacher, S.S., Ross, S.R. Evolution of Water Conversation in Humans. Current Biology. 31:1-7.
Speakmen et al. A standard calculation methodology for human doubly labeled water studies. Cell Reports Medicine. 2: doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrm.2021.100203
Sayre, M.K., Pontzer, H., Alexander, G.E., Wood, B.M., Pike, I.L., Mabulla, A.Z.P., Raichlen, D.A. Ageing and physical function in East African foragers and pastoralists. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B. 375: 20190608.
Raichlen, D.A., Bharadwaj, B.K., Nguyen, L.A., Franchetti, M.K., Zigman, E.K., Solorio, A.R., Alexander, G.E. Effects of simultaneous cognitive and aerobic exercise training on dual-task walking performance in healthy older adults: Results from a pilot randomized controlled trial. BMC Geriatrics 20: 83
Raichlen, D.A., Pontzer, H., Zderic, T.W., Harris, J.A., Mabulla, A.Z.P., Hamilton, M.T., Wood, B.M. Sitting, squatting, and the evolutionary biology of human inactivity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 117: 7115-7121.
Wood, B.M., Pontzer, H., Harris, J.A., Mabulla, A.Z.P., Hamilton, M., Zderic, T., Raichlen, D.A. Step counts from satellites: methods for integrating accelerometer and GPS data for more accurate measures of pedestrian travel. Journal for the Measurement of Physical Behaviour.
Franchhetti, M.K., Bharadwaj, P.K., Nguyen, L.A., Van Etten, E.J., Klimentidis, Y.C., Hishaw, G.A., Trouard, T.P., Raichlen, D.A., Alexander, G.E. Interactive effects of age and self-reported physical sport activity on white matter hyperintensity volume in healthy older adults. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 12:576025.
Raichlen, D.A., Klimentidis, Y.C., Bharadwaj, P.K., Alexander, G.E. Differential associations of engagement in physical activity and estimated cardiorespiratory fitness with brain volume in middle-aged to older adults. Brain Imaging and Behavior.
Raichlen, D.A., Klimentidis, Y.C, Hsu, C.H., Alexander, G.E. Fractal complexity of daily physical activity patterns differs with age over the lifespan and predicts mortality in older adults. Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.74: 1461-1467.
Rosinger, A.Y., Pontzer, H., Raichlen, D.A.,Wood, B.M., Tanner, S.N., Sands, J.M. Testing age-related decline in urine concentration: Data from the U.S. and two small-scale societies. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.168:705-716.
Sayre, M.K., Pike, I.L., Raichlen, D.A.High levels of objectively measured physical activity among the Pokot agro-pastoralists of Kenya across the lifespan with implications for aging in small-scale societies. American Journal of Human Biology.31:e23205
Pontzer, H., Wood, B.M., Raichlen, D.A. Hunter-gatherers as models in public health. Obesity Reviews.19 (Suppl. 1): 24-35.
Kozma, E.E., Webb, N.M., Harcourt-Smith, W.E.H., Raichlen, D.A., D’Aout, K., Brown, M.H., Finestone, E., Ross, S.R., Aerts, P., Pontzer, H. Hip extensor mechanics and the evolution of walking and climbing capabilities in humans, apes, and fossil hominins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 115:4134-4139.
Perchalski, B., Placke, A., Sukhdeo, S.M., Shaw, C.N., Gosman, J.H., Raichlen, D.A., Ryan, T.M. Asymmetry in the cortical and trabecular bone of the human humerus during development. Journal of Anatomy. 301:1012-1025
Klimentidis, Y.C, Raichlen, D.A, Bea, J., Garcia, D.O., Mandarino, L.J., Alexander, G.E., Chen, Z., Going, S.B. Genome-wide association study of habitual physical activity in over 277,000 UK Biobank participants identifies multiple variants including CADM2 and APOE. International Journal of Obesity. 42:1161-1176
Bustos, D., Jackway, J., Urban, T.M., Holliday, V.T., Fenerty, B., Raichlen, D.A., Budka, M., Reynolds, S.C., Allen, B.D., Love, D.W., Santucci, V.L., Odess, D., Willey, P., McDonal, H.G., Bennett, M.R. Footprints preserve terminal Pleistocene hunt? Human-sloth interaction in North America. Science Advances. 4:eaar7621
Raichlen, D.A. & Alexander, G.E. Adaptive Capacity: An evolutionary-neuroscience model linking exercise, cognition, and brain health. Trends in Neurosciences. 40:408-421.
Raichlen, D.A.& Gordon, A.D. Interpretation of Footprints from Site S Confirms Human-like Bipedal Biomechanics in Laetoli Hominins. Journal of Human Evolution. 107:134-138.
Pontzer, H.P., Raichlen, D.A., Basdeo, T., Harris, J.A., Mabulla, A.Z., Wood, B.M. Mechanics of archery among Hadza hunter-gatherers. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. 16:57-64.
Raichlen, D.A., Pontzer, H., Harris, J.A., Mabulla, Z.P., Marlowe, F.W., Snodgrass, J.J., Eick, G., Berbesque, J.C., Sancilio, A., Wood, B.M. Physical activity patterns and biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk in hunter-gatherers. American Journal of Human Biology. 29:e22919.
Sparrow, L.M., Yu, S., Pontzer, H., Raichlen, D.A., Rolian, C. Gait changes in a line of mice artificially selected for long limbs. PeerJ. 5:e3008.
Zeininger, A., Shapiro, L.J., Raichlen, D.A. Ontogeny of digitigrade hand and foot postures in infant baboons (Papio cynocephalus). American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 163:231-241.
Raichlen, D.A., Bharadwaj, P.K., Fitzhugh, M.C., Haws, K.A., Torre, G., Trouard, T.P., Alexander, G.E., Differences in resting state functional connectivity between young adult endurance athletes and healthy controls. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 10:610.
Webber, J.T., Raichlen, D.A. The role of plantigrady and heel-strike in the mechanics and energetics of human walking with implications for the evolution of the human foot. Journal of Experimental Biology. 219:3729-3737.
Kuhn, S.L., Raichlen, D.A., Clark, A. What moves us? How mobility and movement are at the center of human evolution. Evolutionary Anthropology. 25:86-97.
Pontzer, H., Brown, M.H., Raichlen, D.A., Dunsworth, H., Hare, B., Schroepfer-Walker, K., Luke, A., Dugas, L., Durazo-Arvizu, R., Schoeller, D., Plange-Rhule, J., Bovet, P., Forrester, T.E., Lambert, E.V., Thompson, M.E., Shumaker, R.W., Ross, S.R. Metabolic acceleration and the evolution of human brain size and life history. Nature. 533:390-392.
Klimentidis, Y., Arora,Y., Chougule,A., Zhou, J., Raichlen, D.A.FTO association and interaction with time spent sitting. International Journal of Obesity. 40:411-416.
Pontzer, H. Raichlen, D.A., Wood, B.M., Emery Thompson, M.E., Racette, S.B., Mabulla, A.Z.P., Marlowe, F.W. Energy expenditure and activity among Hadza hunter-gatherers. American Journal of Human Biology. 27:628-637.
Raichlen, D.A., Gordon, A.D., Foster, A.D., Webber, J., Sukhdeo, S.M., Scott, R.S., Gosman, J.H., Ryan, T.M. An ontogenetic framework linking locomotion and trabecular bone architecture with applications for reconstructing hominin life history. Journal of Human Evolution.81:1-12.
Wood, B.M., Marlowe, F.W., Pontzer, H., Raichlen, D.A.Mutualism and manipulation in Hadza-honeyguide interactions. Evolution and Human Behavior. 35:540-546.
Pontzer, H, Suchman, K., Raichlen, D.A.,Wood, B.M., Mabulla, A.Z.P., Marlowe, F.W. Foot strike patterns and hind limb joint angles during running in Hadza hunter-gatherers. Journal of Sport and Health Science. 3: 95-191.
Raichlen, D.A. and Alexander, G.A. Exercise, APOE genotype, and the evolution of the human lifespan. Trends in Neurosciences.37: 247-255.
Raichlen, D.A., Wood, B.M., Gordon, A.D., Mabulla, A.X., Marlowe, F.W., Pontzer, H. Evidence of scale-free Lévy walk foraging in human hunter-gatherers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111: 728-733.
Pontzer, H, Raichlen, D.A., Gordon, A.D., Schroepfer-Walker, K.K., Hare, B., O’Neill, M.C., Muldoon, K.M., Dunsworth, H.M., Wood, B.M., Isler, K., Burkart, J., Irwin,M., Shumaker, R.W., Lonsdorf, E.V., Ross, S.R. Primate energy expenditure and life history. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111: 1433-1437.
Shapiro, L.J., Cole, W.G., Young, J.W., Raichlen, D.A.,Robinson, S.R., Adolph, K.E. Human quadrupeds, primate quadrupedalism, and Uner Tan Syndrome. PLoS ONE.9: e101758.
Pontzer, H, Raichlen, D.A., Rodman, P.S. Bipedal and quadrupedal locomotion in chimpanzees. Journal of Human Evolution. 66: 64-82.
Barak, M.M., Lieberman, D.E., Raichlen, D.A., Pontzer, H., Warrener, A.G., Hublin, J.J. Trabecular evidence for a human-like gait in Australopithecus africanus. PLoS ONE. 8: e77687
Raichlen, D.A., Pontzer, H., Shapiro, L.J. A new look at the Dynamic Similarity Hypothesis: the importance of swing phase. Biology Open. 2: 1032-1036.
Foster, A.D., Raichlen, D.A.,Pontzer, H. Muscle force production during bent-knee,bent-hip walking in humans. Journal of Human Evolution.65: 294-302.
Raichlen, D.A., Polk, J.D. Linking brains and brawn: Exercise and the evolution of the human brain. Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B. 280: 20122250.
Raichlen, D.A., Foster, A.D., Seillier, A., Giuffrida, A., Gerdeman, G.L. Exercise-induced endocannabinoid signaling is modulated by intensity. European Journal of Applied Physiology.113: 869-875.
Pontzer, H, Raichlen, D.A., Wood, B., Mabulla, A., Racette, S.B., Marlowe, F. Hunter-gatherer energetics and human obesity. PLoS ONE. 7: e40503.
Raichlen, D.A., Foster, A.D., Gerdeman, G.L., Seillier, A., Giuffrida, A. Wired to run: Exercise-induced endocannabinoid signaling in humans and cursorial mammals with implications for the runner’s high. Journal of Experimental Biology.215:1331-1336.
Raichlen, D.A., Gordon, A.D. Relationship between exercise capacity and brain size in mammals. PLoS ONE. 6: e20601
Raichlen, D.A., Gordon, A.D., Sechrest, W. Bioenergetic constraints on primate abundance. International Journal of Primatology. 32: 118-133.
Raichlen, D.A., Armstrong, H., Lieberman, D.E. Calcaneus length determines running economy: Implications for endurance running performance in modern humans and Neandertals.Journal of Human Evolution.60: 299-308.
Raichlen, D.A., Gordon, A.D., Harcourt-Smith, W.E.H., Foster, A.D., Haas. W.R.Jr. Laetoli footprints preserve earliest direct evidence of human-like bipedalism. PLoS ONE. 5: e9769
Pontzer, H., Raichlen, D.A.,Shumaker, R.W., Ocobock, C., Wich, S.A. Extremely low energy expenditure in free living Orangutans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.107: 14048-14052.
Raichlen, D.A., Gordon, A.D., Muchlinksi, M.N., Snodgrass, J.J. Causes and significance of variation in mammalian basal metabolism. Journal of Comparative Physiology – B. 180: 301-311.
Raichlen, D.A., Shapiro, L.J., Pontzer, H., & Sockol, M.D. Understanding increased hind limb weight support in chimpanzees and the evolution of primate kinetics. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 138: 395-402.
Pontzer, H, Holloway, J, Raichlen, D.A., Lieberman, D.E. Control and function of arm swing in human walking and running. Journal of Experimental Biology.212: 523-534
Pontzer, H., Raichlen, D.A., Sockol, M.D. The metabolic cost of walking in humans, chimpanzees, and early hominins. Journal of Human Evolution. 56: 43-54.
Raichlen, D.A. Predicting the effects of gravity on human walking using a kinematic model: A new test of the dynamic similarity hypothesis. Journal of Experimental Biology.211: 2767-2772.
Keeney, B.K., Raichlen, D.A., Meek, T.H., Wijeratne, R.S., Middleton, K.M., Gerdeman, G.L., Garland, T. Jr. Differential response to a selective cannabinoid receptor antagonist (SR141716: rimonabant) in female mice from lines selectively bred for high voluntary wheel running behavior. Behavioral Pharmacology. 19: 812-820.
Raichlen, D.A., Pontzer, H., & Sockol, M. The Laetoli footprints and early hominin locomotor kinematics. Journal of Human Evolution. 54:112-117.
Sockol, M., Raichlen, D.A., & Pontzer, H. Chimpanzee locomotor energetics and the origin of human bipedalism.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 134: 12265-12269.
Lieberman, D.E., Bramble, D.M., Raichlen, D.A., & Shea, J.J. Endurance running and the tyranny of ethnography: A reply to Pickering and Bunn. Journal of Human Evolution.53: 434-437.
Shapiro, L.J. and Raichlen, D.A.Primate gaits and arboreal stability: A response to Cartmill et al. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.133: 825-827.
Raichlen, D.A.Effects of limb mass distribution on mechanical power outputs during quadrupedalism. Journal of Experimental Biology.209: 633-644.
Shapiro, L.J. & Raichlen, D.A.The influence of limb proportions on the ontogeny of quadrupedal walking in infant baboons (Papio cynocephalus). Journal of Zoology. 269: 191-203.
Lieberman, D.E., Raichlen, D.A., Pontzer, H., Bramble, D. & Cutright-Smith, E. The human gluteus maximusand its role in running.Journal of Experimental Biology. 209: 2143-2155.
Raichlen, D.A.Effects of limb mass distribution on the ontogeny of quadrupedalism in infant baboons (Papio cynocephalus) and implications for the evolution of primate quadrupedalism. Journal of Human Evolution. 49: 415-431.
Raichlen, D.A.Ontogeny of limb mass distribution in Papio cynocephalus. Journal of Human Evolution.49: 452-467.
Shapiro, L.J. and Raichlen, D.A.Lateral sequence walking in infant Papio cynocephalus: implications for the evolution of diagonal sequence walking in primates. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.126: 205-213.
Raichlen, D.A.Convergence of forelimb and hind limb natural pendular periods in baboons (Papio cynocephalus) and its implication for the evolution of primate quadrupedalism. Journal of Human Evolution.46: 719-738.
David Raichlen and Gene Alexander (University of Arizona) wrote the cover article for the January 2020 issue of Scientific American detailed an evolutionary hypothesis linking physical activity and brain aging.
David Raichlen and Herman Pontzer (Duke University) wrote the cover article for New Scientist magazine summarizing their research on the evolutionary biology of human inactivity and why hunter-gatherers may not have negative health effects from long bouts of sedentary behavior.
October 2021: A study published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews by PhD student Daniel Aslan shows that people with neurodegenerative diseases utilize neuroplasticity in an attempt to learn new motor skills by altering brain activity. This altered brain activity is unique for each neurodegenerative disease, but also depends on the progression of the disease and the type of task being learned.
May 2021: Katie Sayre received a highly competitive Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Merit Award to Current Doctoral Students. This award is given to graduate students who demonstrate exceptional work in their field of research.
April 2021: Katie Sayre wins HEB/HBIO Teaching Assistant Award, given to teaching assistants who enrich student learning within and beyond the classroom.
February 2021: Katie Sayre receives funding from the National Science Foundation for her Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant titled: The Many Ways of Growing Old: Aging, activity patterns and function in modern Tanzanian foragers
October 2020: Dr. David Raichlen is a Principal Investigator on a National Institutes of Health R56 grant titled: Physical Activity Predictors of Cognitive and Brain Health in the Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.
2022 The New York Times: Exercise Can Build Up Your Brain. Air Pollution May Negate Those Benefits. By Gretchen Reynolds
2020 The New York Times: Sitting is bad for our health. Should we squat more instead? By Gretchen Reynolds
2020 Quirks and Quarks, CBC Radio: Squat, don't sit: The way we are sedentary could make a big difference to our health
2018 The Washington Post: 3.6 million year old footprints suggest early human ancestors were excellent walkers, by Joel Achenbach
2016 The New York Times: Born to move, by Gretchen Reynolds
2016 Wall Street Journal: The elusive runner’s high has prehistoric roots, by Matt Wilkinson
2014 New York Times: Navigating our world like birds and bees, by Gretchen Reynolds
2014 Scientific American: Exercise counteracts genetic risk of Alzheimer’s, by Emilie Reas
2014 Runner’s World Magazine: How to achieve a runner’s high, by K. Aleisha Fetters
2013 New York Times: What works for sharks and honeybees… by Sindya Bhanoo
2013 New York Times: Exercise and the ever-smarter human brain by Gretchen Reynolds
2012 New York Times: The evolution of the runner’s high by Gretchen Reynolds
2012 NPR Morning Edition: Wired to run’: Runner’s high may have been evolutionary advantage by Christopher Joyce
2010 The Washington Post: Bipedalism takes a big step backward by Margaret Shapiro
2007 BBC: Energy use ‘drove human walking’
2006 National Geographic Magazine: Downside of being upright by Jennifer Ackerman