• Dr. Howells is a biological anthropologist and human biologist specializing in the influence of culture on health outcomes and associated biological adaptations. She is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at UNCW.

    Her current work focuses on the impact of natural disasters and climate change on maternal and child health. Her research interests include stigma, social determinants of health, reproductive justice, prenatal stress, toxic stress, intergenerational health outcomes, and health equity. She aims to identify barriers to health care surrounding civil status, prenatal care, menstrual equity, natural disasters, Zika, and HIV/AIDS.

    She is the Director of the UNCW GAPS (Growth Adaptation Pregnancy Stress) Lab and has conducted collaborative research in the South Pacific, Asia, Africa, Central and South American, and the American Southeast.
  • Selected Publications

    Academic Article

    Year Title Altmetric
    2023-12-01 Healing Hanuman’s Army: A Model of Veterinary Care at the Ubud Monkey Forest -- Special Issue: Human Animal InteractionsAnimals.  14:117-140. 2023-12-01
    2023-09-01 Tattooing as a phenotypic gambitAmerican Journal of Biological Anthropology.  182:7-11. 2023-09-01
    2023-09-01 Variable digestibility of captive northern greater galagos (Otolemur garnettii) fed experimental “frugivorous” and “insectivorous” dietsZoo Biology.  42:644-650. 2023-09-01
    2023-01-01 Maternal stress and hair cortisol among pregnant women following Hurricane Florence (Invited Special Issue: Extreme Weather Events and their Impact on Health and Human Biology.) -- Invited Special Issue: Extreme Weather Events and their Impact on Health and Human BiologyAmerican Journal of Human Biology.  35:e23847. 2023-01-01
    2022-08-01 Is there a difference in student physical activity between a field school and a traditional classroom setting?American Journal of Human Biology.  34:e23799. 2022-08-01
    2022-01-01 Ecotoxicology at anthropogenically disturbed sites inhabited by vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus)Primates.  63:525–533. 2022-01-01
    2022-01-01 Tattooing, rheostasis, and psychoneuroimmunologyAdaptive Human Behavior and Physiology2022-01-01
    2022-01-01 The art of partnership: Expanding representations and interpretations.International Journal for Students as Partners.  6:135-152. 2022-01-01
    2022-01-01 “Go with the Flo”: Conducting research on prenatal stress following Hurricane Florence as participant observers (Invited Special Issue: Rapid Research in Action - Lessons from the Field)Frontiers in Medical Sociology.  7. 2022-01-01
    2021-01-01 Impacts of family and fieldwork on career/family balance among tenure-track and tenured anthropologistsAmerican Journal of Human Biology.  e23686. 2021-01-01
    2021-01-01 There and back again: The biosocial dynamics of returning from the fieldAmerican Journal of Human Biology.  e23673. 2021-01-01
    2020-01-01 Trends of Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Hepatitis and Syphilis Infections in Samoa from 2012 to 2017World Health Organization’s Western Pacific Surveillance and Response Journal (WPSAR).  11. 2020-01-01
    2019-01-01 Knowledge of gestational mellitus among pregnant women in American SamoaThe Pacific Journal of Reproductive Health2019-01-01
    2019-01-01 The evolutionary adaptation of body art: Tattoo as an honest signal of immunological fitness in American SamoaAmerican Journal of Human Biology2019-01-01
    2018-01-01 Zika Virus in American Samoa: challenges for prevention and management in the context of non-communicable diseaseAnnuals of Human Biology. Special edition Human Biology in the Pacific.  229-238. 2018-01-01
    2018-01-01 “Row as One!” A History of the Development and Use of the Sāmoan FautasiThe Journal of the Polynesian Society2018-01-01
    2017-01-01 It’s a Deadman’s Party: Integrative Evolutionary EducationThe Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium.  7:132-149. 2017-01-01
    2016-07-01 Does maternal marital status indirectly influence use of medical interventions during delivery in American Samoa?Pacific Journal of Reproductive Health2016-07-01
    2016-04-01 Celebrating the year of the monkey in Minneapolis, MNAnthropology News - American Anthropological Association2016-04-01
    2010-01-01 Patterns of Gastro-Intestinal Parasites and Commensals as an Index of Population and Ecosystem Health: The Case of Sympatric Western Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) and Guinea Baboons (Papio hamadryas papio) at Fongoli, SenegalAmerican Journal of Primatology.  71:1-7. 2010-01-01
    2006-01-01 Do "Savanna" Chimpanzees Consume C4 Resources?Journal of Human Evolution.  51:128-133. 2006-01-01
    2006-01-01 The Importance of Integrative Anthropology: A Preliminary Investigation Employing Primatological and Cultural Anthropology Data Collection Methods in Assessing Human-Monkey Co-existence in Bali, IndonesiaEcological and Environmental Anthropology.  2:2-13. 2006-01-01
    Maternal marital status predicts self-reported stress among pregnant women following hurricane Florence.American Journal of Human Biology,.  32.


    Year Title Altmetric
    2022-01-01 Primates and primatologists: reflecting on two decades of primatological and ethnoprimatological research, tourism, and conservation at the Ubud Monkey Forest -- Tourism and Indonesia’s Primates.  Springer. 153-178. 2022-01-01
    2019-01-01 Fossil primates from flooded habitats: the antiquity of an association -- Primates in Flooded Habitats: Ecology and Conservation.  PLoS One. 2019-01-01
    2017-01-01 The Freshman 15.  Greenwood / ABC-CLIO. 2017-01-01
    2017-01-01 “The mosquito brings the sickness”: local knowledge, stigma, and barriers to Zika prevention in rural Guatemala. -- Maternal Health, Pregnancy-Related Morbidity and Death Among Indigenous Women of Mexico and Central America: An Anthropological, Epidemiological and Biomedical Approach..  Springer Nature. 2017-01-01


    Year Title Altmetric
    2018-01-01 Zika: From the Brazilian Backlands to Global ThreatAmerican Journal of Human Biology. 2018-01-01
    2016-01-01 Engaged Anthropology Grant: Michaela HowellsThe Wenner-Gren Blog. 2016-01-01
    2013-01-01 Evolution of MenopauseCitizendium. 2013-01-01


    Year Title Altmetric
    2021-01-01 Effects of Stress on Pregnancy: Outcomes After a HurricaneNatural Hazards Center Quick Response Grant Report Series. 2021-01-01
    2016-04-01 Zika's frightening strangleholdSapiens: Online Magazine of the Wenner Gren Foundation. 2016-04-01


    Research Overview

  • Human Biology, Health Effects of Climate Change, Health Equity, Stress, Reproduction, Barriers to Reproductive Health Care, Fetal and Neonate Growth and Development
  • Investigator On

  • UNCW Cahill Grant 2021-01-01
  • UNCW Travel Grant 2020-01-01
  • UNCW CAS Pilot Grant 2019-01-01
  • UNCW SURCA Grant 2019-01-01
  • UNCW Travel Grant 2019-01-01
  • Quick Response Application (NSF) 2018-01-01
  • UNCW Hurricane Pedagogy Grant 2018-01-01
  • UNCW SURCA Grant 2018-01-01
  • How does the emergence of the Zika virus in Latin America impact family planning? A preliminary investigation in Guatemala. 2016-05-01 - 2017-05-01
  • UNCW Dean’s Fund 2017-01-01
  • UNCW ETEAL Supported Pedagogy Initiative 2017-01-01
  • Global Citizen Grant 2016-05-01 - 2016-08-01
  • Human Biological Variation: Summer Curriculum Development Initiatives 2016-05-01 - 2016-08-01
  • Dean's Funds 2016-05-01 - 2016-06-01
  • Dean's Funds 2016-04-01 - 2016-06-01
  • UNCW Travel Grant 2016-03-01 - 2016-05-01
  • Do final test questions requiring creativity reduce stress levels and increase confidence in undergraduate STEM students? A novel use of biomarkers and self-reported stress levels to assess pedagogy techniques. 2016-01-01 - 2016-05-01
  • UNCW Curriculum Improvement Grant 2016-01-01
  • UNCW Dean’s Fund 2016-01-01
  • Engaged Anthropologist Grant 2015-01-01
  • UNCW ETEAL Supported Pedagogy Initiative 2014-01-01
  • UCB Dissertation Completion Fellowship 2013-01-01
  • UCB Haskell-Houghtelin Scholarship Fund 2012-01-01
  • Dissertation Fieldwork Grant 2011-01-01
  • Osmundsen Initiative 2011-01-01
  • UCB Beverly Sears Graduate Student Grant - Margaret Hoenich Award 2011-01-01
  • UCB Haskell-Houghlin Scholarship Fund 2011-01-01
  • 2010-01-01
  • UCB Dorothy Martin Award 2010-01-01
  • 2008-01-01
  • UCB Dissertation Improvement Grant 2008-01-01
  • UCB Haskell-Houghtelin Scholarship Fund 2008-01-01
  • UCB Beverly Sears Research Award 2007-01-01
  • UCB Burt Fund 2007-01-01
  • UCB Dissertation Improvement Grant 2007-01-01
  • UCB Walker Van Riper Award 2007-01-01
  • UCB Dissertation Improvement Grant 2006-01-01
  • UCB Travel Grant 2006-01-01
  • 2005-01-01
  • 2005-01-01
  • Grant in Aid 2005-01-01
  • ISU Anthropology Departmental Award 2005-01-01
  • ISU Professional Advancement Grant 2004-01-01
  • ISU Travel Grant 2004-01-01
  • A Pilot Study: Cortisol Saliva Assessments Throughout the Menstrual Cycle Amongst a Healthy Female Population 2024-07-01 -
  • Revising Biocultural Anthropology Applied Learning Opportunities Beyond the Traditional Classroom: Diversity in Pacific Islander Cultures 2022-11-01 -
  • Travel Grant Association for Women in Science 2016-10-01 -
  • Gestational Diabetes Intervention and Education in American Samoa 2016-05-01 -
  • CAS Summer Project Completer - Professional Development Grant
  • Teaching Overview

  • Human Evolution, Human Biological Variation, Human Growth and Development, Reproduction, Medical Anthropology, Race and Racism
  • Full Name

  • Michaela E Howells