Dr Robert Attenborough

Senior Lecturer in Bioanthropology
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Anthropology 1601
  • Biological (Physical) Anthropology 160102
  • Anthropological Genetics 060401
  • Epidemiology 111706
  • Demography 1603
  • Anthropology Not Elsewhere Classified 160199

Research interests

Human population biology, health (especially malaria) and nutrition in less developed countries; anthropological demography and population ecology; anthropological genetics; Papua New Guinea, Himalayas.

Researcher's projects

Papua New Guinea has been the focus of most of my recent research on health, nutrition and demography. This has been both at the level of nationwide and historical reviews, and of local research with Dr Don Gardner amongst the Mianmin of the highlands fringes of Sandaun (West Sepik) Province, where life expectancy is short, and health and child growth are generally poor, but where these also vary with local variation in altitude and ecology.

In a different kind of human biological research project (also ARC-funded), I have recently focused with Prof Simon Easteal and others on the anthropological genetics of Papua New Guinea. In this project we are exploring genetic variation in both the female and male lines for clues as to the long-range histories of Papuan-speaking populations: questions include how the island of New Guinea was originally populated; whether genetic variation correlates with linguistic variation; and whether particular population groups may have expanded with the expansion of language families agricultural practices.

In earlier research I studied population processes, ecology and nutrition in Zangskar valley, Jammu and Kashmir Province, northern India.


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Updated:  15 July 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers