Participating Faculty


Courtney Meehan

Department:Department of Anthropology
Credentials:2005-Washington State University
Mailing Address:PO Box 4910
Pullman, WA 99164-4910
Website:Click here

Research Interests

The evolution of human childhood, maternal reproductive strategies, human cooperative breeding, human milk composition and the human milk and infant gastrointestinal microbiomes.

Research Summary

I am a biocultural anthropologist whose research is informed by evolutionary theory. My research is focused on the evolution of childhood, human cooperative breeding, child development, lactation and human milk composition and the human microbiome. My current research program is centered on understanding the environmental, behavioral, and social and life history correlates of human milk composition (e.g., the human milk microbiome) and the infant gastrointestinal microbiomes. I conduct cross-cultural research on hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists in the Central African Republic, agro-pastoralists in Ethiopia, and in the United States. 

Research Publications

Helfrecht C, Hagen, EH, DeAvila D, Bernstein, RM, Dira SJ, Meehan, CL 2017 DHEAS production across childhood in three Sub-Saharan populations: A case study using hair hormone analysis. American Journal of Human Biology, e23090.

Ruiz L, Espinosa-Martos I, García-Carral C, Manzano S, McGuire MK, Meehan CL, McGuire MA, Williams JE, Foster J, Sellen DW, Kamau-Mbuthia EW, Kamundia EW, Mbugua S, Moore SE, Kvist LJ, Otoo GE, Lackey KA, Flores K, Pareja RG, Bode L and Rodríguez JM 2017 What’s normal? Immune profiling of human milk from healthy women living in different geographical and socioeconomic settings. Front. Immunol. 8:696. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2017.00696

McGuire MK, Meehan CL, McGuire MA, Williams JE, Foster J, Sellen DW, Kamau-Mbutia EW, Kamundia EW, Mbugua S, Moore SE, Prentice, AM, Kvist LJ, Otoo GE, Brooker SL, Price WJ, Shafii B, Placek C, Lackey KA, Robertson B, Manzano S, Ruiz L, Rodriguez JM, Pareja R, Bode L 2017 What’s normal? Oligosaccharide concentrations and profiles in milk produced by healthy women vary geographically. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 105(5):1086-1100.

Meehan, CL, Hagen, EH, Hewlett, BS. 2017 Persistence in infant care patterns among Aka foragers. In Victoria Reyes Garcia & Pyhälä, Aili A (eds.) Hunter-gatherers in a changing world, Pp. 213-232. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

McGuire, MK, Meehan, CL, Brooker, S, Williams, J, Foster, JA, McGuire, M 2017 An evolutionary, biosocial perspective on variation in human milk microbes and oligosaccharides: An example of eco-homeorhesis? In Michelle McGuire, Mark McGuire, and Lars Bode (Eds.), Prebiotics and Probiotics in Human Milk, Pp. 367-400. Boston: Academic Press.

Gartstein M, Wolayte Bogale Gessamo, Meehan, CL 2016 Adaptation of the infant behavior questionnaire-revised for use in Ethiopia: Expanding cross-cultural investigation of temperament development. Infant Behavior and Development, 45:51-63.

Meehan, CL, Crittenden, AN (eds.) 2016 Childhood: Origin, Evolution, and Implications. Santa Fe, NM: School of Advanced Research Press.

Helfrecht, C, Meehan, CL 2016 Sibling effects on nutritional status: intersections of cooperation and competition across development. American Journal of Human Biology, 28:159–170. 10.1002/ajhb.22763.

Meehan, CL, Helfrecht, C, Quinlan, R 2014 Allomaternal networks and children’s nutritional status: Is flexibility key to cooperative breeding? American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 153:513:525.

Meehan, CL & Roulette, JW 2013 Early supplementary feeding among central African foragers and farmers: A biocultural approach. Social Science and Medicine, 96:112-120.

Meehan, CL, Quinlan, R, Malcom, C 2013 Cooperative breeding and maternal energy expenditure among Aka foragers. American Journal      of Human Biology, 25(1):42-57.


Washington State University