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The Australian National University

Dr Robert Attenborough

Contact:

Position: Senior Lecturer in Bioanthropology

Email: robert.attenborough@anu.edu.au

Phone: +61 2 6125 2910

Research interests

Papua New Guinea has been the focus of most of my recent research on health, nutrition and demography. This has been both at the level of nationwide and historical reviews, and of local research with Dr Don Gardner amongst the Mianmin of the highlands fringes of Sandaun (West Sepik) Province, where life expectancy is short, and health and child growth are generally poor, but where these also vary with local variation in altitude and ecology.

In a different kind of human biological research project (also ARC-funded), I have recently focused with Prof Simon Easteal and others on the anthropological genetics of Papua New Guinea. In this project we are exploring genetic variation in both the female and male lines for clues as to the long-range histories of Papuan-speaking populations: questions include how the island of New Guinea was originally populated; whether genetic variation correlates with linguistic variation; and whether particular population groups may have expanded with the expansion of language families agricultural practices.

In earlier research I studied population processes, ecology and nutrition in Zangskar valley, Jammu and Kashmir Province, northern India.

Recent and main publications

In press. Health changes in Papua New Guinea: from adaptation to double jeopardy? In Health Changes in the Asia-Pacific Region, ed. R. Ohtsuka & S.J. Ulijaszek. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2005 Papuan Pasts: Linguistic, Archaeological, Social, Environmental and Biological Perspectives on the Peoples of Near Oceania. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, ANU. [Co-edited with A. Pawley, J. Golson & R. Hide]

2005 Introduction to the chapters on biological anthropology and human genetics. In Papuan Pasts – see above.

2005 Mitochondrial DNA variation amongst Papuan-speaking populations of Papua New Guinea. In Papuan Pasts – see above. [Co-authored with S. Easteal & others.]

2005 Y-chromosome variation amongst Papuan-speaking populations of Papua New Guinea. In Papuan Pasts – see above. [Co-authored with N. Harley & others.]

2005 The colonization of the Pacific: the story according to histocompatibility antigens. In Papuan Pasts – see above. [Co-authored with P. Main & others]

2002 Ecology, homeostasis and survival in human population dynamics. In Human Population Dynamics: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives, ed. H. Macbeth and P. Collinson, pp.186-208. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2001 The peopling of New Guinea: evidence from class I human leukocyte antigen. [co-authored with P. Main & others] Human Biology, 73, 396-383.

1997 Altitude and the risk of bites from mosquitoes infected with malaria and filariasis among the Mianmin people of Papua New Guinea. [co-authored with T.P. Burkot & D.S. Gardner] Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 91, 8-10.

1995 Change and variability in Papua New Guinea's patterns of disease, pp.189-216. [co-authored with M.P. Alpers] In Human Populations: Diversity and Adaptation, ed. A.J.Boyce and V. Reynolds. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

1995 Longitudinal growth patterns in the highland fringes of West Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea: a comparison of three groups. [Co-authored with R.K. Porteous & D.S. Gardner] Annals of Human Biology, 22, 131-150.

1994 The population of sTongde, Zangskar, pp. 295-330. In Himalayan Buddhist Villages: Environment, Resources, Society and Religious Life in Zangskar, Ladakh, ed. J.H. Crook and H. Osmaston. Bristol: Bristol University Press.

1994 Work patterns, pp. 361-382. In Himalayan Buddhist Villages: Environment, Resources, Society and Religious Life in Zangskar, Ladakh, ed. J.H. Crook and H. Osmaston. Bristol: Bristol University Press.

1994 Nutrition, pp. 383-404. [Co-authored with M.J. Attenborough & A.R. Leeds] In Himalayan Buddhist Villages: Environment, Resources, Society and Religious Life in Zangskar, Ladakh, ed. J.H. Crook and H. Osmaston. Bristol: Bristol University Press.

1992 Human Biology in Papua New Guinea: the Small Cosmos. [Co-edited with M.P. Alpers] Pp. xiii + 427. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

1992 Human biology in a small cosmos, pp. 1-35. [Co-authored with M.P.Alpers] In Human Biology in Papua New Guinea: The Small Cosmos, ed. R.D. Attenborough and M.P. Alpers. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Courses currently taught

BIAN2115/BIAN6115 ‘Race’ and Human Genetic Variation
BIAN2119/BIAN6119 Nutrition, Disease and the Human Environment
BIAN2120/BIAN6120 Culture, Biology and Population Dynamics
BIAN2124/BIAN6124 Human Society and Animal Society: Comparisons and Relationships

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