Skip Navigation

CIE Researcher of Distinction, April 2016

Allison NesbittAllison Nesbitt

Each month, the Center for Inclusive Education showcases the outstanding research being conducted by one of our talented scholars in our Research Café series. In addition, we recognize this scholar as a Researcher of Distinction and share the details of his/her journey to becoming an accomplished scholar. This month's Researcher of Distinction is Allison Nesbitt, PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropological Sciences. Allison presented her talk, ‘Morphological integration between the face and dentition in humans and chimpanzees’ on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. 

Allison's Path Into Research

I am a sixth year PhD candidate in the Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences (IDPAS). I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Anthropology and Anatomy from Duke University and a master’s degree in Anthropology (with a concentration in Forensic and Biological Anthropology) at Mercyhurst University. Within the Center of Inclusive Education (CIE) at Stony Brook, I was a Dr. W. Burghardt Turner Fellow. I am currently a scholar in the AGEP T-FRAME program and a mentor in the Community of Student Mentors (CSM).Allison's Current Research


Describe the work you presented for your Research Café.

Differences in the size and shape of the face and teeth are often used in biological anthropology to assess the relatedness of species. It is not fully understood whether the face and teeth are two separate units that can evolve independently or if they are tightly correlated or integrated during evolution. This presentation will discuss the evolutionary significance of modularity and morphological integration (or the association between two anatomical parts) and examine the morphological integration between the face and teeth in humans and chimpanzees. In order to assess whether the face and dentition of humans and chimpanzees are highly integrated, other regions of the cranium will be evaluated to establish a baseline of “high” and “low” magnitudes of integration within the human and chimpanzee cranium.

Are there any other projects you are currently working on?

In addition to my dissertation, I am currently working on other projects involving cranial and dental variation.What was the deciding factor for you to come to Stony Brook for your graduate studies?My program in Anthropological Sciences is interdepartmental between several departments and I knew that this would give me access to great researchers and flexibility with my research. I also knew that my program would give me extensive anatomy teaching experience. In addition, the Turner Fellowship and the CIE allowed me to be a part of a larger community on campus.

What are your future goals?

My immediate focus is to finish my dissertation. Ultimately, I would like to have an academic position teaching anatomy or biological anthropology classes while maintaining my own research lab.What do you enjoy most about research?With research you are always learning something new, testing questions, and challenging yourself. I enjoy the process.