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Chair, Department of Anthropology

Biological Anthropologist
Alumni Building 302

Research Interests

Child Growth and Development, Nutrition, Microbiome, Dual Burden, Infant Feeding

Research Background

I am a human biologist specializing in human growth and nutrition. I focus on the biological pathways linking early life social, behavioral and physical environments to health outcomes across a range of national and international settings, including North Carolina, China, and Ecuador. I am particularly interested in how early life nutrition and environmental exposures shape the development of obesity and chronic disease. My current projects focus on: the effects of early exposures on the development of the intestinal microbiome, immune function and obesity; the structural, social, maternal and infant characteristics contributing to infant feeding practices and the development of an obesogenic environment; and the physical and social environmental exposures, particularly those around food and water, associated with the development of dual burden in low and middle income countries.


PhD, Emory University, 2007; MPH, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, 2007; A.B., Harvard University, 1999

Previous Courses

ANTH 217: Human Biology in Comparative Perspective
ANTH 471: Biocultural Perspectives on Maternal and Child Health
ANTH 897: Human Biology and Population Health
ANTH 897: Integrating Social and Biological Perspectives on Human Health


(In press) Thompson, AL, LS Adair, and ME Bentley ‘Whatever average is:’ understanding African-American mothers’ perceptions of infant weight, growth and health. Current Anthropology

2014 Thompson, AL, KM Houck, LS Adair, P Gordon-Larsen, S Du, B Zhang, and BM Popkin. Associations between Pathogenic and Obesogenic Factors and Inflammation in Chinese children, adolescents, and adults. American Journal of Human Biology. 26:18-28

2013 Thompson, AL and ME Bentley, The critical period of infant feeding for the development of early disparities in obesity. Social Science and Medicine. 97: 288-296

2013 Thompson, AL Intergenerational impact of maternal obesity and postnatal feeding practices on pediatric obesity. Nutrition Reviews. 71: S55-S61

2013 Thompson, AL and M Lampl Prenatal and postnatal energetic conditions and sex steroids levels across the first year of life. American Journal of Human Biology. 25:643–654

2013 Turner, BL and AL Thompson Beyond the Paleolithic Prescription: Incorporating diversity and flexibility in the study of human diet evolution. Nutrition Reviews. 7: 501-510. (lead article)

2013 Thompson, AL, LS Adair and ME Bentley. Pressuring and restrictive feeding styles influence infant feeding and size among a low-income African-American sample. Obesity. 21(3): 532-571

2013 Thompson, AL, LS Adair, and ME Bentley Maternal characteristics and perception of infant temperament associated with television exposure in African-American infants. Pediatrics 131(2): e390-e397

2012 Thompson, AL. Developmental origins of obesity: early feeding environments, infant growth and the intestinal microbiome. American Journal of Human Biology. 24(3): 350-360

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