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Carolina Population Center
137 E. Franklin St., CVS Building, 6th Floor, Room 6205

Area of Interest:

Human evolutionary biology, ecological immunology, human microbiome, growth and development, nutrition, developmental plasticity, and global health.


BA in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara; 2002
MA in Anthropology from California State Universtiy, Los Angeles; 2007


I am a biological anthropologist specializing in human biology. The focus of my research and teaching integrates evolutionary and developmental frameworks to address patterns of human health. My graduate work examines the health impacts of environmental and social changes among populations undergoing economic development, urbanization and population growth in the Ecuadorian Amazon, China and the Galápagos Islands. Specifically, I am interested in the dual burden effects of infectious disease exposure and overnutrition on gut health and immune dysfunction, and how they relate to growth and weight trajectories in children, adolescents and young adults. My dissertation fieldwork draws on methodologies from anthropology, epidemiology, microbiology and geography to investigate the health effects of poor water quality and obesity among mothers and children living on San Cristobal Island, Galapagos.


2014 Thompson AL, Houck K, Adair L, Gordon-Larsen P, Popkin B. Multilevel examination of the association of urbanization with inflammation in Chinese adults. Health and Place. 28:177-186.

2014 Thompson AL, Houck K, Adair L, Gordon-Larsen P, Du S, Zhang B, Popkin B. Pathogenic and obesogenic factors associated with inflammation in Chinese children, adolescents and adults. American Journal of Human Biology. 26(1):18-28.

2013 Houck K, Sorensen MV, Lu F, Alban D, Alvarez K, Hidobro D, Doljanin C and AL Ona. The effects of market integration on childhood growth and nutritional status: The dual burden of under‐ and over‐nutrition in the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon. American Journal of Human Biology. 25(4):524-533.

2012 Sorensen M, Houck K. Los Efectos de la Integración del Mercado en los estados de Nutrición y Crecimiento: La Doble Carga de la Desnutrición y Sobrealimentación. In: Integración al Mercado y Salud Indígena en el Nororiente Ecuatoriano. Lu, F. and M. Sorensen, editors. Abya Yala: Quito, Ecuador.

Links to Galápagos research: