Department of Anthropology
232 Bay State Road, Room 104B
Boston, MA 02215
Visiting Assistant Project Scientist
UCLA Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics
Semel institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior
695 Charles E. Young Dr. S.
Gonda Building, Room 3554
Los Angeles, CA 90095
caschmit [at] bu [dot] edu
I am Assistant Professor of Biological Anthropology at Boston University, and a visiting assistant project scientist and former postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics at UCLA. I also conducted research as a postdoctoral scholar in the lab of Dr. Leslea Hlusko at the Human Evolution Research Center in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC Berkeley. In 2010, I received my Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology from New York University under the auspices of the New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology, a multi-institutional NSF/IGERT-funded graduate program, and the Center for the Study of Human Origins. My central research questions involve primate development and life history and incorporate techniques from behavioral ecology, morphometrics, and genomics in two primate models: New World atelins and Old World vervets.
I use biomedical and genomics-based methodologies to better understand primate development. Though intensive fieldwork across Africa and the Caribbean with the Vervet Phenome/Genome Project I have collected biological samples from over a thousand wild vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus spp.). I am collaborating on a number of NIH-funded projects ranging from the evolution and pathogenicity of SIV in wild vervets (published in PLOS Pathogens and the Journal of Virology), to vervet parasite diversity (published in the South African Journal of Wildlife Research), and developmental morphometrics. My core project involves the genomics of obesity during development, currently being conducted with captive vervets at Wake Forest University. I am using over 700 fully sequenced and pedigreed individuals to run linkage analyses on obesity phenotypes. Preliminary analyses, presented at the ASHG and AAPA meetings in 2013 and 2014, show significant and high heritability of chosen obesity phenotypes and evidence of significantly different developmental trajectories in chronically obese and non-obese adults. Association studies involving these obesity phenotypes are currently under way. I will next investigate the phenotypic impact of discovered QTL in our extensive wild sample, assessing variability in phenotype expression and population-specific selection based on local ecology and anthropogenic impacts. Field work for these projects is ongoing, and can be followed on social media at #BUvervets16.
My dissertation project – Comparative behavior, development, and life history of wild juvenile atelin primates – assessed the impact of social structure on juvenile behavior and life history in sympatric spider (Ateles belzebuth) and woolly monkeys (Lagothrix lagotricha poeppigii) in Amazonian Ecuador. Established hypotheses for the evolution of delayed maturation in primates emphasize juvenile foraging incompetence and competition with adults. I found that foraging competence is reached early with minimal competition in atelins. These results challenge the focus on juvenile incompetence in life history evolution. My work on broader patterns in the juvenile development of woolly monkeys were recently published in The Woolly Monkey: Behavior, Ecology, Systematics and Conservation Research, now available from Springer, and my work on the effects of predation risk on group substructuring in woolly monkeys has been published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. I am currently expanding my spider monkey sample through collaborations with several research groups to undertake a larger comparative study of immature spider monkeys. Central to this effort is my collaboration with Conservation International to re-open the Raleighvallen site in Suriname to work with long-unstudied red-faced spider monkeys (Ateles paniscus), while my collaborators will provide me with data and access to their respective study populations of A. geoffroyi, A. belzebuth, and A. hybridus. With this project, I plan to work on the impact of ecological and social difference between populations on juvenile behavioral variation and to seek out correlates of this variation with life history traits.
For more information, and information on other research projects and collaborators, please follow the links above or you can contact me by email. If you still want to learn more, I also have a rather robust social media presence.