Herman Pontzer

Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology and Global Health

How did the human body evolve, and how does our species’ deep past shape our health and physiology today? Through lab and field research, Dr. Pontzer investigates the physiology of humans and other primates to understand how ecology, lifestyle, diet, and evolutionary history affect metabolism and health. He is particularly interested in cardiometabolic disease and the lifestyle factors that protect against obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other noncommunicable diseases that are  common among industrialized populations but rare or absent in non-industrialized societies.

Dr. Pontzer’s field projects seek to understand how diet, activity and other ecological factors influence the physiology and health of people in small-scale societies, including hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers in east Africa and South America. Back at Duke, his lab research focuses on energetics and metabolism, including respirometry and doubly labeled water methods.