Sam Larson

Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology

larsonsa@sas.upenn.edu

 I am a biological anthropologist working with the Platt lab to understand the genetics of health and disease. The primary theme of my research is translational: I take well-treaded genetic association studies in humans and captive animals and contextualize them in a free-ranging population of rhesus macaques. Currently, my research has focused on the genetics of the serotonergic system, which in humans has been linked with vulnerability to anxiety and affective psychopathologies. By contextualizing serotonergic genes in free-ranging monkeys we can examine their fitness consequences, and how they situate into flourished population structures like friendship networks and dominance hierarchies. It grants us an opportunity to examine how evolution and natural selection might be shaping the associations that we see in humans.

As a four-field anthropologist, I believe that scientific research gains strength when the same problem is tackled from different angles, theoretical viewpoints, and with different methodologies. My training is in behavioral ecology, but I have found my research enriched by the neuroscientists, geneticists, and mathematicians housed here. It is definitely something I will carry with me in my career.