Amanda is a paleoanthropologist broadly interested in paleoecology, taphonomy, osteology and human evolution. Her research incorporates paleoecological, morphological, and taphonomic methods to address questions about hominin-environmental interactions and the mechanisms driving human behavioral and evolutionary change. She is an active member of the Gona Paleoanthropological Research Project, and has been conducting research in Ethiopia since 2010. She has also piloted field and museum research with the Baringo Paleontological Research Project, in Kenya.
Her scholarship is focused on better understanding the impact of environment on significant behavioral transitions in tool technology (e.g., the shift from Oldowan choppers to Acheulean hand axes) and the origins of meat eating and hunting behavior. Her dissertation reconstructs paleoenvironments at Gona between ~3-1 Ma using stable isotope, ecomorphological, and traditional faunal analyses to infer how hominins utilized the landscape and intereacted with mammalian communities. This time period is important for the origin of our genus Homo and marked increases in behavioral complexity (stone tools) and brain expansion with the evolution of Homo erectus. This study complements and contributes to ongoing taphonomic, lithic, and geologic studies in the Rift Valley to provide a significant contribution to better understanding the origin and evolution of stone tool technology -a key innovation that is linked to the behavioral and cognitive advances that led to the evolution of our species.
Amanda is also actively engaged in public outreach and dedicated to teaching science in an accessible and inclusive manner. She collaborates regularly in public programing with the Yale Peabody Museum and Yale Pathways to Science. She is a member of the Yale Science Diplomats, working primarily on the ‘Science @ Brewery’ initiative to create fun and informative public events in collaboration with the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine (check out their latest series of talks in podcast form here)