Kara C. Hoover
Office: Bunnell 404
Phone: 907 474 6110
Email: kchoover @ alaska.edu
Webpage and blog
I specialize in the evolutionary ecology of genetic variation within and among human populations and within the genus Homo. Adaptation to new or changing landscapes is a powerful microevolutionary force that I have explored throughout my career using approaches from population genetics, genetic epidemiology, and bioarchaeology. My particular interest is in the human sense of smell and the factors that shaped its evolutionary tuning as well as modern distribution of variation in human populations. I am also interested in links between smell and food preference/subsistence and evolutionary mismatches in modern environments. I coined the term 'sensory inequity' to describe the differential risk to olfaction seen in modern populations due to socio-economics and race--this ties into work on health inequities and environmental racism. My current projects are:
- building ancient noses to learn what Neandertal and Denisova smelt
- modern human variation in olfactory receptor genes
- evolutionary mismatch between modern settings and the evolutionary ecology that tuned the sense of smell
- sensory inequity and the health consequences of increased negative sensory burden
- olfaction's role in food preference and diet
At UAF, I run the molecular anthropology lab which is equipped with standard PCR and real-time quantitative PCR. I also maintain a dedicated ancient DNA preparation lab which is PCR-free and equipped with biosafety cabinets.
I am affiliate faculty in the Molecular Chemistry and Molecular Biology Faculty, Honorary Research Fellow at Durham University, and a Research Fellow at the Research Institute for Sustainable Environments and Cultures. I was a Visiting Scientist in the Evolutionary Genetics Department at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Leipzig.