Rob Scott at the lab

Contact Rob:

Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology and
Center for Human Evolutionary Studies
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
131 George Street, RAB 306
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1414

848-932-9395 phone
732-932-1564 fax

Research > Dietary Adaptations

Determinants of human digestive performance: cooking and enzymes

The goal of this project is to measure the effects of cooking (a behavioral adaptation) and variability in digestive enzymes (potential enzymatic adaptations) on human digestive performance using the TIM-1 digester at Rutgers University. Finding an increase in digestive performance associated with cooking would support the hypothesis that cooking was a key adaptation to increase food quality and available energy during human evolution and would help elucidate the energetic significance of food processing in the modern human diet. Studying the effects of cooking in concert with the effects of digestive enzymes will allow selection for a human behavior - cooking - to be placed in context with selection relating to digestive enzymes.

Funding: TIM Pilot Grant, New Jersey Institute for Food Nutrition and Health

Facility: TIM facility lab

Collaborators: (coming soon)

Video: Courtesy of RU Center for Digital Filmmaking
video of Robert Scott and the TIM lab

Food mechanical properties (FMPs) and morphology

The goal of this research is to understand the role food mechanical properties play in morphological adaptations. Ongoing work involves the collection of FMPs from a broad range of primate and human foods in the field and in the lab using a an FLS-1 tester, a lab resource shared with Dr. Erin Vogel. This data allows testing for a relationship between FMPs and morphological adaptations as well as behavioral adaptations like the time spent feeding.

Resource: FLS-1 tester

Rutgers Collaborators: Erin Vogel, Susan Coiner-Collier

Fruit odor intensity and fruit selection in primates

Odor is another property of primate and human foods and this research focusses on quantifying fruit odor intensity using a field set-up designed and first used by Kim Valenta. Work is in the early phases beginning at Tuanan Field Station, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.

sniffer lab set up

Collaborators: Tim Bransford, Kim Valenta

Field Site: Tuanan