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Alyssa Crittenden

Lincy Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Expertise: Anthropology, Nutrition, Human Behavioral Ecology, Hunters and Gatherers, Evolution of Childhood


Alyssa Crittenden is the Lincy Foundation Assistant Professor of Anthropology at UNLV, and a behavioral ecologist and nutritional anthropologist who works among the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania, East Africa.

Her research interests include the evolution of the human diet, the evolution of childhood, the development of children's prosocial behavior, and the origins of the division of labor between the sexes.  She applies the principles of evolutionary theory to the study of human behavior and cultural diversity. Her work crosses several disciplines, including anthropology, psychology, ecology, nutrition, and human biology. 

Published widely in top-tier academic journals, Crittenden's research on the role of honey in human evolution and her work on Hadza diet and the gut microbiome has found its way to popular venues, such as National Geographic, The Smithsonian, National Public Radio, and several documentaries which have been shown in film festivals around the world.


  • 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

Alyssa Crittenden In The News

Aug 8, 2017

You wake up with a jolt and take a look outside. The moon is still out, the sun isn’t quite up, and you still have a few hours to go before starting your day. In an ideal world, you would have slept cleanly through the night. (By the way, you can make these eight little changes to sleep better in just one day.)

Jul 17, 2017

It is known that once they reach a certain age, elders are sleeping fewer and fewer hours at night. While most of them complain of the side effects of their sleeping issues, this topic might pertain to the heritage humans receive from prehistoric times. Thousands of years ago, the oldest members of a group might have been in charge of watching over the cave at night.

Jul 14, 2017

Trouble sleeping is a common complaint among older folks, but what if their insomnia traces back to prehistoric times when Grandma and Grandpa were in charge of keeping the cave safe at night?

Jul 14, 2017

If your sleep is getting worse with age, evolution might be to blame. A study recently published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B found that humans' age-specific sleep patterns may have evolved to protect mixed-age groups from potential danger in the night. And in this scenario, the elderly members of these groups may have drawn the short straw—their restless sleep made them perfect for the night watch.

Articles Featuring Alyssa Crittenden

UNLV professor Alyssa Crittenden with members of the Hadza of Tanzania.
Jul 11, 2017
Campus News

UNLV joint study finds that elusive sleep patterns as humans age may have evolved to ensure safety.

Closeup of books
Apr 18, 2017

From professional reasons to personal connections, faculty across campus share why they’re fond of certain works they penned.

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