Associate Professor
Director, Laboratory of Health and Human Biology

Contact Info


I study how human health and disease are shaped by the environment, biology, and culture. As a biological and medical anthropologist, my work has focused on human adaptation, understanding how people avoid disease in stressful environments, and the effects of environmental and sociocultural change on health and nutrition. While much of my work has examined on how individual and household conditions may redistribute infectious disease burdens, I am also beginning research on and childhood growth, diet, and nutrition.

Current research projects:

Nutrition, health, and life history: My long-term research in Bolivia investigates the health and nutritional consequences of markets and other ecological, social, and economic changes in the Amazon. I have focused on understanding how rapid cultural and economic changes are associated with common infectious disease, child growth patterns, and nutrition among an indigenous group, Tsimane’, living in lowland Bolivia. Specific questions have included how wealth and subsistence patterns are related to parasitism and how early life nutrition and growth patterns can shape downstream health and disease. Ongoing research continues to investigate the consequences of increased reliance of purchased foods on nutrition and disease patterns.

Zoonotic diseases and deforestation: Deforestation may be driven by economic, social, and political motivations, but land use change also provides the context for interactions between humans, plants, insects, and animals in the environment. In collaboration with colleagues from the University of Georgia, the CDC, and the GORGAS Institute in Panama, this project focuses on how social and economic factors put people and animals at risk for Chagas disease, American Leishmaniasis, and other understudied infectious diseases with a larger goal of considering the links between social and environmental systems that lead to human disease.

Migration and nutrition in the United States: When people move between countries, they often experiences changes in health and nutrition. This new research project draws on a life history perspective to consider how early life environment may be linked to downstream health and examines how shifts in food, social support, nutrition, and medicine in the U.S. are related to mother-child health among women who have moved to the U.S. Specific research questions include how parents cope with illness and perceive the growth and health of their children.




Ph.D. Anthropology, University of Michigan 2005

Research Areas:
Research Interests:

Human adaptation
Infectious disease in anthropology
Medical anthropology and biocultural approaches to health and disease
Early childhood environments and life-history
Diet, nutrition, and growth

Selected Publications:

Dyer, J., Tanner, S., Velásquez Runk, J., Mertzlufft, C., Gottdenker, N., 2016.  Deforestation, Dogs, and Zoonotic Disease.  AnthroNews special focus on Zoonotic Disease in the Anthropocene.  

Leonard W, Reyes-García V, Tanner S, Rosinger A, Schultz A, Vadez V, Zhang B, TAPS, Bolivia Study Team, Godoy R. 2015. The Tsimane’ Amazonian Panel Study (TAPS): Nine years (2002-2010) of annual data available to the public. Economics and Human Biology. 19: 51-61.

Rosinger, A., Tanner, S. 2015. Water from fruit or the river? Examining hydration strategies and gastrointestinal illness among Tsimane’ adults in the Bolivian Amazon. Public Health Nutrition. 

Tanner, S. and Taps study team. 2014. Health and disease: Exploring the relation between parasitic infections, child nutrition status, and markets. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 155:221-228. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22573. (Special issue on Bioarchaeology and Health)

Tanner, S., W.R. Leonard, V. Reyes-García, and TAPS Bolivia Research Team. 2014. The consequences of linear growth stunting: Influence on body composition among youth in the Bolivian Amazon. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 153:92-102.

Tanner, S., M.E. Chuqimia Choque, W.R. Leonard, T.W. McDade, T. Huanca, and V. Reyes-García. 2011. The effects of local medicinal knowledge and hygiene on helminth infections in an Amazonian Society. Social Science and Medicine 72:701-709.