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Katherine Wander

Wander is a biological anthropologist and epidemiologist working at the intersection of human evolutionary biology and health. Much of her research seeks to understand how humans in general and children in particular cope with nutritional and infectious disease stress, and the immediate and developmental impact of malnutrition and infectious disease on the protective and pathological capacity of the immune system. She has investigated the relationship between infectious disease in infancy and immune responses and allergies later in childhood in Tanzania, as well as evolutionary theories of parental investment as they relate to weaning. She has also studied whether dietary iron deficiency relates to risk for infectious diseases and immune responses among East African children. Her population-based research within this theoretical framework requires use of techniques to characterize multiple aspects of children's health—growth, inflammation and infectious disease status, immune function, and micro-nutrient status—outside of a clinical setting. As such, she employs “rough-tech” laboratory techniques that are minimally-invasive and robust to challenging field conditions. In collaboration with others, she works to adapt assay techniques and interpretation parameters to allow population-based research in the developing world to capitalize on technology developed for clinical use in a wealthy, industrial setting. She is also interested in the practice of female circumcision, or female genital cutting/mutilation (FGM/C) in West Africa. Wander was part of a large project investigating the dynamic process of decision-making and behavior change around female circumcision in the Senegambia. As part of this project, she served as a consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO) and to UNICEF on the practice of FGM/C in sub-Saharan Africa.


  • 2015–present
    Assistant Professor, Binghamton University