John Bowen | Understanding Islam Across the World

John Bown

An internationally recognized expert in cultural anthropology, John Bowen’s research focuses on comparative social studies of Islam across the world. He conducts ethnographic research in Indonesia, France and England, working with students and colleagues at field sites across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Bowen leads the Trans-Atlantic Forum, which connects Washington University scholars and students in the social sciences with graduate schools in Paris and Amsterdam.

 In this video, Bowen discusses misconceptions about Islam’s treatment of women, as well as his current research on the evolution of acceptable food among Muslims. 

John Bowen and Islamic Research

Caitlyn Collins | Making Motherhood Work

Collins | WashU podcast
Collins book

Sociologist Caitlyn Collins conducts cross-national qualitative research on gender inequality in the workplace and in family life. In her new book, Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving, she investigates how public policies affect family life in Europe and the US. Collins interviewed 135 working mothers in Sweden, Germany, Italy and the United States to understand their work-family conflict. She found that American moms were by far the most stressed, primarily because of lack of parental benefits. For a sneak preview, listen to Washington University’s Hold that Thought podcastor read her op-eds in The New York Times and in The Atlantic.

“The United States is one of only two
countries on the planet that doesn’t mandate maternity leave.”

Caitlyn Collins

Michael Frachetti | Excavating a Lost City

Michael Frachetti
Excavation site

For two decades, Michael Frachetti has led archaeological expeditions across Central Asia. In 2011, he and a multidisciplinary team unearthed a spectacular high-altitude city in Uzbekistan along the Medieval Silk Road. The existence of a large urban settlement at such a high elevation was surprising. With support from National Geographic, ongoing excavations seek to determine who these settlers were and why they built a city so high in the mountains. Watch a video about the team’s exciting discovery at Tashbulak and lessons it offers about the rise and fall of civilizations or watch Frachetti’s TEDx talk about “The Utopian Paradox.” Read about Frachetti‘s latest study of ancient DNA in the Source.

Lost city

Jonathan Losos | Preserving Global Biodiversity 

Jonathan Losos
The Origin of Species: Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree
Living Earth Collaborative

Jonathan Losos is an internationally renowned evolutionary biologist. He leads the Living Earth Collaborative, a unique partnership between Washington University, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the St. Louis Zoo dedicated to advancing the study of biodiversity. Losos’ research on the behavioral and evolutionary ecology of lizards has taken him around the globe and firmly established his position as a leading international expert on the biodiversity of species. Watch a video introducing the Living Earth Collaborativeor read more in The Source. Listen to this Books & Ideas podcast, in which Losos discusses his seminal book, Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution. See Losos in action in this Howard Hughes Medical Institute short film, The Origin of Species: Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree.


Jonathan Myers | Tracking Global Trends in Forest Biodiversity

Jonathan Myers
Global forest network cracks the case of tropical biodiversity

Ecologist Jonathan Myers explores big questions about the patterns and causes of biodiversity. As part of an international network of long-term forest dynamics research sites, called the Smithsonian Center for Tropical Forest Science-Forest Global Earth Observatory (CTFS-ForestGEO), Myers’ team cracked the mystery of why so many more plant species exist in tropical forests than in their temperate counterparts. Watch a video about their researchand find out about ongoing projects at Tyson Research Center, Washington University’s environmental field station.


Shanti Parikh | HIV Hotspots in Uganda

Parikh | TEDx
HIV hotspots in Uganda

Sociocultural and medical anthropologist Shanti Parikh has spent over 20 years researching, consulting, advocating, and teaching courses on issues related to gender, sexual and reproductive health, inequalities, policy implementation and community health. Her primary research has been the history and ethnography of sexuality, gender, and class in Uganda, East Africa with particular interest in how they have been shaped by the HIV epidemic. In this short video and this TEDx talk, Parikh discusses her project on HIV hotspots in Uganda.  

Parikh book

Crickette Sanz | Protecting Wild Apes


Anthropologists Crickette Sanz and David Morgan’s research takes them on a journey deep in the Congolese rainforest, which includes a five-hour, dugout-canoe trip and a six-hour hike to their base camp. Their destination is one of the world’s most remote great ape research sites, the Goualougo Triangle in the northern Republic of Congo, where for nearly two decades Sanz and Morgan have been conducting field studies to examine the behavioral ecology of wild chimpanzees and leading a conservation program. Hear their extraordinary story in this TEDx talk or read about it in National Geographic. In 2019, Sanz was the recipient of the Ai’s Scarf Award, otherwise known as the Women-in-Primatology Award. Read about it in the Source.

Sanz | TEDx

Barbara Schaal | Plants and the Environment


Barbara Schaal is a renowned plant evolutionary biologist. Her many leadership roles in the scientific community include being the 2017 President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology under the Obama administration. Schaal was among the first plant scientists to use molecular biology-based approaches to understand evolutionary processes in plants. She studies the origins and diversity of staple food crops and has identified naturally occurring genetic mutations that have enabled crops to withstand flooding and insect attack. From tracing the wild progenitor of cassava in Brazil to learning the subtleties of rice cultivation from local farmers in the remote hills of Thailand, her research takes her around the globe. Read this interview with Schaal discussing the importance of basic research in a time of environmental change. Find out more about what motivates her research in this video

Curiosity: Barbara Schaal on plants & the environment