The Urlacher Lab @ Baylor University

We investigate the evolved bio-energetic pathways that drive variation in human development, metabolism & health

Our biocultural approach integrates field and laboratory methods spanning several disciplines. We develop new models and methods, test hypotheses, and strive to reduce health disparities.


Our research lies at the intersection of the fields of human biology, behavioral ecology, evolutionary medicine, and global health. We are particularly interested in how children adaptively allocate calories to competing physiological tasks (e.g., growth, immune activity, brain development) and the impact of early adversity on lifetime metabolic disease risk.

Recent News & Press

Exercise vs. Diet? What Children of the Amazon Can Teach Us About Weight Gain

The New York Times (2021)

Child growth and energetic constraints with Dr. Sam Urlacher

Sausage of Science Podcast (2020)

Move more, weigh less? Baylor prof’s study of Amazon kids challenges that equation

Waco Tribune-Herald (2020)

Key Publications

Minimally invasive biomarkers in human and nonhuman primate evolutionary biology: Tools for understanding variation and adaptation.

American Journal of Human Biology, Urlacher SS, Kim LY, Luan T, Young L, Adjetey B. (2022)

Childhood Daily Energy Expenditure Does Not Decrease with Market Integration and Is Not Related to Adiposity in Amazonia

The Journal of Nutrition, Urlacher et al. (2021)

Constraint and trade-offs regulate energy expenditure during childhood

Science Advances, Urlacher et al. (2019)

Tradeoffs between immune function and childhood growth among Amazonian forager-horticulturalists

PNAS, Urlacher et al. (2018)


We are passionate about sharing our research findings and improving our communities through science education and outreach.