Ph.D. Biological Anthropology. University of Michigan
M.S. Biological Anthropology. University of Michigan
B.S. Biology. Pennsylvania State University

Email: w-leonard1@northwestern.edu

Phone: 847-491-4839
Office: 1810 Hinman, Room A55



I am the Abraham Harris Professor and the Director of the Global Health Studies Program at Northwestern University. I am interested in diverse aspects of nutritional health, energy metabolism, and child growth and development among human populations around the world. More specifically, I have conducted research among indigenous agricultural populations of highland and lowland regions of South America (Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru), and among traditional herding populations of Siberia. My current research unpacks ways by which both environmental (e.g., altitude, cold, heat) and social factors (e.g., poverty) shape human biology and health. Additionally, my work explores how the transition to a “modern” (Western) diet and lifestyle influences the development of chronic health problems. My work has also drawn on information from human and primate ecology to develop models for examining the evolution of nutritional requirements in our hominin ancestors. These models have provided important insights into the origins of obesity and metabolic diseases among modern human societies.



Google Scholar page

  1. Undurraga, E. A., Behrman, J. R., Leonard, W. R., & Godoy, R. A. (2016). The effects of community income inequality on health: Evidence from a randomized control trial in the Bolivian Amazon. Social Science and Medicine, 149, 66-75. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.12.003
  2. Streeter, E. A., Squires, E. C., Leonard, W. R., Tarskaia, L. A., Klimova, T. M., Fedorova, V. I., … Snodgrass, J. J. (2015). Adiponectin, hemoglobin, and cardiovascular risk in an indigenous siberian population. American Journal of Human Biology. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.22808
  3. Wilson, H. J., Leonard, W. R., Tarskaia, L. A., Klimova, T. M., Krivoshapkin, V. G., & Snodgrass, J. J. (2015). Do physical activity and sedentary behavior relate to cardio-metabolic risk factor clustering in indigenous Siberian adults? American Journal of Human Biology, 27(2), 149-156. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.22625
  4. Wilson, H. J., Klimova, T. M., Knuston, K. L., Fedorova, V. I., Fedorov, A., Yegorovna, B. M., & Leonard, W. R. (2015). Socio-demographic predictors of sleep complaints in indigenous Siberians with a mixed economy. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 157(4), 641-647. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22761
  5. Leonard, W. R., Reyes-García, V., Tanner, S., Rosinger, A., Schultz, A., Vadez, V., … 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. DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2015.07.004
  6. Hicks, K., & Leonard, W. R. (2014). Developmental systems and inequality: Linking evolutionary and political-economic theory in biological anthropology. Current Anthropology, 55(5), 523-550. DOI: 10.1086/678055