MAPS Group


A (currently very small) research group interested in human genetics, human evolutionary history, and phylogeography with a primary goal is to study genetic variation in human populations (past and present) to improve our knowledge of human health and human evolution.

MAPS People

Alive and Kicking Members

MAPS Alumni

  • Neha Angal, MA Anthropology at UofL. 
  • Arthur DeFruscio, MA Anthropology at UofL. Department of Justice.
  • Chandler Gatenbee, BA UofL,  MA Anthropology at Utah, PhD UofL with Paul Ewald.
  • Rachel Hart.  Undergraduate student in Biology.  Off to medical school in Ohio.  Go Rachel!
  • Kara Keeton, BA UofL, MPH SPHIS at UofL
  • Roxanne Leiter, BA Anthropology, UofL, PhD Candidate in Biology at UofL with Mike Perlin.
  • Allison Mann, MA UofL, PhD Anthropology, Oklahoma with Cecil Lewis. Post-doc UBC.
  • Meghan Mott. Finished PhD in Anatomical Sciences and Neurobiology. Now post doc at the NIH.
  • Brandy Schwallie, BA UofL (Technician Emerita).
  • Nicholas Short, BA UofL, PhD Candidate in Biology at UofL with Paul Ewald.
  • Joanna Yun, BA UofL, plans for medical school in near future.


At the University of Louisville

  • Michael Perlin, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Biology


Active Research Projects

Simulating Peopling Processes

Even as more and more human population genetic data are being collected, there have been relatively few efforts to systematically explore the differential contributions of forces of evolution driving evident phylogeographic patterns. I am currently exploring simulation software (primarily SLiM) in order to develop frameworks for testing hypotheses concerning the peopling of continents (namely Europe and the Americas).

Past research endeavors of the MAPS Group

Cytokine polymorphisms, neuroinflammation and brain disorders

One area where neurobiology and immunology overlap is the biology of cytokines.  The brain is now seen as capable of responding and/or influencing the immune response.  The basis for cytokine involvement in multiple general medical illness such as type 1 diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma is very well known.  Now, growing evidence is showing that we must include on this list different neuropsychiatric conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, autism, Alzheimer's disease and major depression.  Currently, we are studying different cytokine polymorphisms (CP) and their potential association with autism, progressive supranuclear palsy, and Alzheimer's disease.

Cytokine Polymorphisms in Human Populations

It has been known for some time that cytokines and their receptors are often encoded by highly polymorphic genes, and these polymorphisms may be responsible for observed inter-individual differences in cytokine production.  However, few studies have been conducted to analyze the cytokine polymorphism (CP) distribution in different human populations.  This research will allow us to estimate the distributions of different cytokine alleles and establish the potential usefulness of cytokine polymorphisms as potential markers for future studies of health significance.

Frankfort Cemetary Project: An ancient human DNA study

The Frankfort Cemetary Project is a cultural resource management effort by the Kentucky Archaeological Survey to document materials and remains found in a 19th century cemetary in Frankfort, Kentucky.  One of three early cemetaries, this particular cemetery is a bit of a black box, as there  are almost no records.  Through the analysis of mitochondrial DNA recovered from teeth, we were able to provide information about the population history of the area.  We established that, at least according to the sampled mitochondrial matrilines, there were African and non-African individuals buried in the cemetary, thus leveraging the anthropometric information collected.  In several cases involving juvenile remains, a mitochondrial haplogroup was able to provide some information where traditional anthropometrics were not sufficient.  The results of this project were presented at the annual meetings of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (Anchorage, Alaska 2006) and the Society for American Archaeology (San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2006). 


We are always interested in the possibiltiy of incorporating new undergraduate and graduate students in our laboratory.  Please contact me if you are interested in training and working in the lab. 
Click here for details concerning the guidelines of the Undergraduate Research Training in Molecular Anthropology (URTMA).

More opportunities for Undergraduate Research