Alyssa Crittenden

Professor of Anthropology
Expertise: Anthropology, Nutrition, Human Evolutionary Biology, Hunters and Gatherers, Human Ecology


Alyssa Crittenden is an anthropologist who studies the relationship between human behavior and the environment (ecological, political, and social). She seeks to better understand the links between diet, reproduction, growth and development, and maternal, infant, and child health and behavior. Her research interests fall within the domains of Biological Anthropology, Behavioral Ecology, Political Ecology, Medical Anthropology, and Applied Evolutionary Anthropology.

Most of her research has been done in collaboration with the Hadza of Tanzania, East Africa — one of the world’s last remaining hunting and gathering populations — who she has worked with since 2004. She is currently working with members of the Hadza community to explore how women and children’s health is impacted by environmental change, political policy, shifts in diet composition, and ethnotourism. Crittenden has also launched several large-scale studies on the behavioral and demographic characteristics of co-sleeping mothers (who bedshare with their infants) all around the world, including in the US.

Additionally, Crittenden hosts "Food, Science, and the Human Body," a video series produced by The Great Courses and National Geographic, which answers perplexing questions about the evolution of the human diet, its relationship to our bodies, and why — from an anthropology, biology, history, nutrition, health science, economics, and sociology lens — we eat the things we eat.

Her work is published in top-tier academic journals as well as highlighted in popular outlets, such as The New York Times, Smithsonian, National Geographic, the BBC, Psychology Today, and on National Public Radio. She is committed to the open science movement and works to share her research findings with public media domains.



  • Ph.D., Biological Anthropology, University of California, San Diego
  • M.A., Anthropology, University of California, San Diego
  • B.A., Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz

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Alyssa Crittenden In The News

Health Digest
July 20, 2022
Humans have cherished honey for its sweetness for as long as memory.Smithsonian Magazine has cataloged ancient rock art showing early humans collecting honey over 40,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians used honey as a foundation in their "Three Healing Gestures." Jars filled with honey have been found in 5,000-year-old Egyptian tombs, still appearing perfectly normal (per Wound Care Learning Network). And as anthropologist Alyssa Crittendon of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas tells Smithsonian Magazine, the sweet, syrupy nectar could have even played a significant role in human evolution. This evidence — and more — illustrates how the ancients used honey for healing. But is it safe to use honey on open wounds today?
KJZZ 91.5
May 20, 2022
The impacts of colonialism and unseemly research reverberate to this day. But, outside of the social sciences and some genomics, efforts to involve and protect Indigenous peoples remain nebulous.
Fronteras Desk
May 20, 2022
The impacts of colonialism and unseemly research reverberate to this day.
Wondrium Daily
April 21, 2022
Psilocybin, the ingredient in “magic” mushrooms, helps with depression. Patients in test groups have found rapid and sustained relief from their depressive symptoms as compared to those taking normal antidepressants. The use of psilocybin goes back to the Aztecs and Greeks.

Articles Featuring Alyssa Crittenden

UNLV Football players entering Allegiant Stadium
Campus News | May 2, 2022

A collection of news stories highlighting the experts and student changemakers at UNLV.

UNLV nursing student in red shirt reviewing slide sample with peer
Campus News | August 4, 2021

A collection of news stories highlighting research, health, and community at UNLV.

D73577_110 (May Newsmakers).JPG
Campus News | June 8, 2021

A collection of news stories highlighting celebration, health, and progress at UNLV.