The Department of Anthropology at UNLV offers a breadth of undergraduate and graduate coursework and provides support for field and lab research in bioarchaeology, forensic anthropology, human behavioral ecology, paleoanthropology, evolutionary theory, Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD), evolutionary psychology, functional anatomy, and biological and biocultural approaches to better understand human evolution and behavior. Faculty and students seek to investigate human diet, reproductive behavior, violence, sexual dimorphism, evolutionary constraints, and other life history features in evolutionary and socioecological context, using such tools as agent-based modeling, 3D geometric morphometrics, osteological analysis, hormone testing, and dietary analysis.


Biological Anthropology faculty at UNLV includes Daniel C. Benyshek, Alyssa Crittenden, Peter Gray, Debra Martin, Brian Villmoare, and Jennifer Byrnes.

Research and Teaching

Faculty research and instruction are integrated through evolutionary and biocultural approaches to topics such as diet, childhood, human sexuality, violence, parenting, paleopathology, inequality of health, and human evolutionary trends among and between early hominins, early members of the genus Homo, and contemporary populations (both historic and extant).

A woman observing two people

Field Work

In recent years, faculty and graduate students in Biological Anthropology at UNLV have worked in the U.S., Romania, Turkey, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Jamaica, St. Kitts, and Hong Kong. Current faculty direct long-term field projects in Northern Tanzania and the Afar Region of Ethiopia. The Department has active connections with the Clark County Coroner’s Office and the recently inaugurated Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV.

People smiling
A woman digging up on a site

Professional Organizations

Dr. Daniel Benyshek is the current VP for the Society for Cross Cultural Research; a member of the College of Liberal Arts Executive Committee and the NAGPRA committee at UNLV; and chair of the UNLV anthropology department and the Undergraduate Assessment Committee.

Dr. Alyssa Crittenden is the current Graduate Coordinator for the Anthropology Department at UNLV

Dr. Peter Gray is a consulting editor for Human Nature; an associate editor for Evolutionary Psychology; member of the editorial board for Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology and the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health; an affiliate faculty for The Kinsey Institute; at UNLV Gray is a member of the Graduate College executive committee, committee chair for Top Tier Graduate Faculty and Student Support, judge for the GPSA research forum, faculty marshal at graduation, member of the Anthropology Website and Social Media Committee, and the Undergraduate Coordinator for the Anthropology Department. 

Dr. Debra Martin is a life-time member of the American Association of Biological Anthropology (AABA), and a member of the Society of American Archaeology (SAA) and the American Anthropology Association (AAA). She is also the Editor-in-Chief of American Antiquity, the flagship journal of the SAA; a co-Editor of the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology; a founding member and on the Advisory Board for the Western Bioarchaeology Interest Group (WEBIG); and the founding Editor for the Springer series entitled, Bioarchaeology and Social Theory.

Dr. Jennifer Byrnes serves as a referee for the Forensic Anthropology Journal, International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, and International Journal of Paleopathology; at UNLV is the faculty advisor for Lambda Alpha and member of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, Assessment Committee and the Budget Committee.


The Department has extensive skeletal collections from recent human populations and fossil hominin cast materials, as well as digital collections of human, primate, and fossil material.

To find out more information about the biological collections at UNLV, contact Dr. Debra Martin or Dr. Jennifer Byrnes.