Research Interest and Projects

Research Interests

My research interests focus on the 19th century United States and the human outcomes of economic development.  My book, The Hidden Cost of Economic Development:  The Biological Standard of Living in Antebellum Pennsylvania, was published by Ashgate in 2005.  My current research, some in collaboration with advanced undergraduate students, addresses anthropometric history as well as the influenza pandemic of 1918.

Current Research Projects

The Stature of Late Nineteenth Century Pennsylvania National Guardsmen--An analysis of physical stature trends among a 7,500 case sample of Pennsylvania National Guard enlistees from the 1860s - 1920s.  This research will provide height trend data for a time period (birth years 1840s through 1900) for which little data has been analyzed previously.  This work is a temporal expansion of my dissertation research which focused on Pennsylvanians born between the 1810s  and the 1840s. (With Dr. Carolyn K. Cuff)

The Relationship Between the Body Mass Index and Lifespan of Nineteenth Century West Point Cadets--Analysis of the relationship between life span and body mass index for nineteenth century U.S. West Point cadets.  Research will provide another sample detailing life expectancy among a middle to upper middle class population segment in the mid- to late 19th century United States.  It also will help to evaluate the efficacy of Waaler curves (which plot relative mortality by body mass index) in predicting relative mortality rates among historical populations.

Stature Change and Variation in Late Nineteenth-Century Scottish Soldiers and Civilians--This work examines an interesting data set from early 20th-century Scotland in an effort to follow-up on Height, Health and History within one major region of the British Isles. Aside from one study of prisoners that concentrates on the first half of the 19th century, there are no other modern studies published on Scottish heights. Given the Scottish height advantage found by Floud, Wachter, and Gregory and the paucity of studies on Scotland generally, this analysis examines the Scottish case in more detail for the late 19th century. It also adds more British and Scottish data to the growing body of anthropometric studies pertaining to economies and populations worldwide. While our initial analysis and interpretation of this data set has been accepted for publication by Economics and Human Biology [ http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ehb.2012.03.005 ], an anomaly within the growth profiles of the civilians and soldiers hints at an in utero or early life ecounter with the influenza pandemic of 1889-1893 among this population which warrants additional investigation.  (With Dr. Paul. Riggs)