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Deborah L. Crooks


Retired, not currently accepting graduate students


1993-96. NIH Post-doctoral Fellow. University of Kentucky.
1992. Ph.D., Anthropology, State University of New York at Buffalo.
1989, M.A., Anthropology, State University of New York at Buffalo.
1986, B.A., Anthropology, The Ohio State University.



Areas of Specialization:

  • Nutrition-security and food security: political economy of food and nutrition; livelihood and food security; poverty, gender and ethnicity in food and nutrition; international nutrition and health.
  • Child growth and population well-being: Polical-economy of child growth; community, household and individual health and well-being; the politics of health and healthcare.
  • Human adaptation and adaptability: biocultural approaches to human adaptation and human adaptability; mixed methods.

Courses Taught

  • ANT 230 Introduction to Biological Anthropology
  • ANT 333 Contemporary Human Variation
  • ANT 303 Topics in Food and Nutrition: Food Politics
  • ANT 440 Anthropological Perspectives on Child Growth and Development
  • ANT 603 Human Biology in Context of Sociocultural Change
  • ANT 608 Anthropology of Food and Nutrition
  • ANT 774 Malnutrition and Food Security in a Changing World

          My current research focuses on the relationship between livelihood strategies and nutrition security in a rural community in Zambia, Africa. This research is part of a long-term research endeavor aimed at making more porous the traditional sub-disciplinary boundaries between biological and cultural anthropology to allow a critical re-envisioning of the human environment in adaptability research. To do this, I work at the nexus of human adaptability, political economy, and political ecology theories to gain a greater understanding of the consequences for human well-being of the complex dialectic among humans and their natural and social environments. In other words, I seek to understand the multiple and interactive factors that lead to the plurality of human biologies that make up the contemporary human condition particularly as evidenced in child growth and nutritional status.

            Since I joined the Gwembe Tonga Research Project in 2004, colleague, Lisa Cliggett and I, have worked in a community in Chikanta Territory, focusing on 42 small-farmer households within the community. With the assistance of funding from NSF and the College of Arts and Sciences, University of Kentucky, we are investigating the relationship between anthropometric outcomes and complex and varied livelihood strategies in three ecologically distinct neighborhoods. Our fieldwork is complete and we are currently in the analysis stage.

            In future research, Dr. Cliggett and I plan to investigate the relationship between food insecurity and mental health outcomes in Zambia and South Africa. Our planned research is linked to a larger project, the Global Food Security and Mental Health Project, which was formulated with the assistance of 20 researchers at an NSF funded workshop facilitated by myself, Lisa Cliggett, Craig Hadley (Emory), David Himmelgreen (U. So. Florida) and Alyson Young (U Florida). The outcome of the workshop will be a conceptual model and multi-method research protocol that will be shared and utilized by researchers in fieldsites around the world.

 Select Grants:

  • 2010, National Science Foundation, Workshop on Food Insecurity and Mental Health, PI, with Lisa Cliggett and Craig Hadley, co-PIs. $29, 676.
  • 2010, National Science Foundation, Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, Jennifer Williams, Co-PI. $17,259.
  • 2007, National Science Foundation, REG Supplement Award, $5000.
  • 2005, National Science Foundation, Senior Investigator Award, PI with Lisa Cliggett, co-PI. $100, 375.
  • 1993, National Institutes of Health, Post-doctoral research and training award, $81,200.


Selected Publications:


  • 2012    Hadley, Craig and Deborah L. Crooks. Coping and the biosocial consequences of food  insecurity in the 21st Century. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 149 (S55):72-94.
  • 2012    Crooks, Deborah L. and Geraldine Moreno-Black. Slowly rising waters: Women in human biology. Voices 12(1).
  • 2008  Crooks, Deborah L., Lisa Cliggett and Rhonda Gillett-Netting. Migration following resettlement of the Gwembe Tonga of Zambia: The Consequences for Children's Growth. Ecology of Food and Nutrition 47:363-381.
  • 2007  Crooks, D. L., Cliggett L., Cole S.M. Child growth as a measure of livelihood security: The case of the Gwembe Tonga. American Journal of Human Biology 19(5):669-675.
  • 2007  Cliggett L. and D. L. Crooks. Promoting multi-methods research: Linking Anthropometric methods to migration studies. Migration Letters 4(2):63-75.
  • 2003  Crooks, Deborah L.Trading nutrition for education: Nutritional status and the sale of snack foods in an eastern Kentucky school. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 17:182-199.
  • 2000  Crooks, Deborah L. Food consumption, activity and overweight among elementary school children an Appalachian Kentucky community. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 112:159-170.
  • 1999  Crooks, Deborah L.Child growth and nutritional status in a high poverty community in eastern Kentucky. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 109:129-143.
  • 1998  Crooks, Deborah L. Poverty and nutrition in eastern Kentucky: The political-economy of childhood growth. In Alan H. Goodman and Thomas L. Leatherman (eds): Building a New Biocultural Synthesis: Political-Economic Perspectives on Human Biology. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, pp. 339-355.
  • 1997  Crooks, Deborah L.Biocultural factors in school achievement for Mopan children in Belize. American Anthropologist 99:586-602.
  • 1995  Crooks, Deborah L.American children at risk: Poverty and its consequences for growth, health and school achievement. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 38:57-86.