Darryl Holman's Research Overview


Nearly all of my research can be classified as anthropological demography. Anthropologists and demographers take interest in the timing of key events over the human life span. The traditional focus of demography is the timing of events like births, marriage, divorce, and death. These events determine the dynamics of populations-the growth rate, changes in age structure, and population density. An important sub-field of demography examines the way that human health is affected by, and affects, the timing of life course events, and how these, in turn, affect population dynamics. Within biological anthropology, the timing of events over the life course is of interest because of their central role in biological fitness. Life-history theory is an important framework for the study of these events from an evolutionary perspective. Some demographers have recently begun to use evolutionary theory as a framework for understanding the timing of life course events--a field called biodemography. Life-history theory and biodemography are parallel fields with many of the same goals, and sharing many research tools.

Within demography, I consider biodemography my area of specialization. My passion as a scientist is exploration and development of new insights through the construction of scientific models of biodemographic phenomena. Much of my work involves developing and exploring stochastic models that are etiologic--that is, models with parameters that reflect specific biological or cultural processes contributing to life history events. I frequently combine this approach with microdemographic methods and the use biomarkers. In a sense, I try to approach all of my investigations using the same etiologic-modeling approach that population geneticists have successfully employed in their field for the last 70 years. (See Holman 2000 here for an essay on incorporating these tools into demography).

Follow the links to find more information about projects I am working on, or take a look at my CV (html format or pdf format).

  • Estimating human fecundability and pregnancy loss
  • Biodemographic models of ovarian and reproductive aging
  • Ecology of breastfeeding behavior
  • Statistical methods for paleodemography
  • Measuring developmental stability of morphometric traits
  • Biometric investigations of deciduous tooth emergence
  • mle - a programming language for developing stochastic models
  • References cited

  • Holman DJ (2000) Biology, Culture and Demography: Interdisciplinary Opportunities and Directions in Population Research. Visions of the Future: New Scientific Opportunities and Emerging Directions in Population Research. Demographic and Behavioral Sciences Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Development. http://www.nichd.nih.gov/about/cpr/dbs/sp/holman.htm.

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