Anthropology

Nature through culture.

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International applicants for doctoral study (Czech and Slovak Republics applicants not included)
Submission deadline until midnight 30 Nov 2021

What will you learn?

This doctoral study programme is organized by the Faculty of Science in English and the studies are subject to tuition.

There is an alternative option for the international applicants to be accepted in the free programme administered in Czech with a possibility of receiving a scholarship. The study language of the programme is still English (Czech is the administrative language).

Before officially applying, please contact us at admission@sci.muni.cz to find all the necessary information related to the scholarship and see our FAQ’s here (https://www.sci.muni.cz/en/studies/doctoral-degree-study-programme/admission-process-faq).

The programme’s goal is to develop students in the field of Anthropology as developed at the Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Science, MU. In addition to be ready to take on further scientific careers in academic institutions, graduates find possible employment in companies with research facilities, in archaeology or history-oriented institutions (archaeological agencies and intitutes, museums, institutions of cultural heritage), forensics-oriented institutions in government and non-governmental organisations (UN, NGOs), in healthcare facilities, and last but not least as lecturers.

The units of the Department of Anthropology cover the following research topics as well as forensic expert casework, for which PhD students are also trained:

Excavation and exhumation of human remains in the archaeological and forensic context

Identification of skeletal findings in the archaeological and forensic context

Portrait identification of persons.

Practical training

Practical training (with the exception of laboratory expert casework) is not a mandatory part of the study.

Further information

Department web site: http://www.sci.muni.cz/anthrop/

Laboratory of Morphology and Forensic Anthropology web site: http://www.sci.muni.cz/lamorfa

Career opportunities

Graduates of a doctoral degree program Anthropology are qualified to work especially in research anthropology-oriented institutes and workplaces or as specialists, research team leaders, lecturers. They are authorized to conduct independent scientific and research activities in basic and applied research focusing on anthropology, human biology and forensic science. In the most broader sense, they are considered qualified for any kind of scientific work, that is dealing with conceptual issues, participating in and managing scientific research activities, and teaching.

Deadlines

1 Aug – 30 Nov 2021

Submit your application during this period

Submit an application

Dissertation topics

Single-subject studies

Anthropology of adoption. Cross-cultural comparison
Supervisor: doc. Mgr. Petr Květina, Ph.D.
Adoption is the appropriation of an individual by a family unrelated biologically. This relationship forms part of the Western civilization cultural code. We also know that adoption exists outside the Western social space and can be historically traced in written sources. However, what is the concept of adoption in pre-literary societies? Adoption is ethnographically documented also in these societies, but questions concern its frequency and social function. In other words: how often adoption occurs in pre-literary or archaic societies, why it happens and whether this phenomenon can be detected beyond the existence of written sources. The aim of this work is to conduct a broad scale cross-cultural research. In addition to the questions formulated above, the goal will also be to identify cultural correlates that can be associated with adoption.
Material: primary data source: HRAF (https://hraf.yale.edu/), phylogenetic supertree by J.Zrzavý team (https://www.nature.com/articles/srep29890).
Metody: multivariate statistics, GIS models.
Supervisor

doc. Mgr. Petr Květina, Ph.D.

Forensic Skeletal Traumatology
Supervisor: doc. RNDr. Petra Urbanová, Ph.D.
The topic aims to implement, establish and further develop assessment of skeletal trauma within the context of forensic sciences, forensic anthropology in particular. Assessing skeletal trauma, its timing, mechanisms of origin (gunshot, blunt/sharp-force, suicides by hanging, falls from height etc.), or evidence of foul play is one of the most important tasks forensic practitioners are requested to perform in cases of dead bodies or skeletal remains. The current progress in medical imaging techniques and 3D analytical techniques has allowed the experts to perform such tasks in the virtual workspace, using non-invasive, contact-less approaches. Furthermore, additional advanced technologies and techniques, such 3D printing, mathematical biobalistic modeling, 3D graphics and animations started being implemented into forensic casework.
The candidates are expected to have the background in biology, preferably biological anthropology, knowledge of advanced imaging approaches (e.g., computed tomography, microCT, 3D scanning), 3D modeling applications at the user’s level (Meshlab, AMIRA/AVIZO, Maya) and the concept of forensic sciences is welcome.
The topic may generate individual projects as follows:

1) Assessment of skeletal injuries using finite element analysis
2) Simulations and animations of death-related events in forensic sciences
3) Differentiating between peri- and post-mortem skeletal injuries in the neck elements
4) Skeletal injuries at the microscopic level – experimental study

MORE INFORMATION: www.sci.muni.cz/lamorfa

PLEASE NOTE that before initiating the formal application process to doctoral studies, all interested candidates are required to contact the future supervisor (urbanova@sci.muni.cz) for informal discussion.
Supervisor

doc. RNDr. Petra Urbanová, Ph.D.

Morphological markers of early development in the reconstruction of the human life history
Supervisor: doc. RNDr. Miroslav Králík, Ph.D.
The development of some structures of the human body is completed after their formation in the early development – either in all respects (tooth enamel) or in some aspect (topology of dermatoglyphics). Therefore, they represent a fixed record – an indicator in the diagnostic sense – of early ontogenetic processes. By comparing their variations with the current properties of the organism (prosperity, health, growth, length of life) we can estimate the importance of the relevant ontogenetic phase for subsequent life, and from their relationships with external factors (stress, diet, physical load) the role of the external environment in this process. The aim of the project is, within a frame of ontogenetic theories, to propose specified hypotheses about the influence of the processes of early development on subsequent development, growth, reproduction, life expectancy and other aspects of human life history, and to test them using suitable morphological ontogenetic markers.

The topic may generate individual projects as follows:
1) Minutiae of the human epidermal ridges as morphological markers of prenatal disruptive factors
2) Effect of assortative mating in parental generation on prenatal and postnatal development of their offspring
3) Family effects on prenatal development as measured by means of digit ratios and dermatoglyphics
4) Osteological and dental markers of prenatal stress and their relationships to morbidity, mortality and the life span
5) Inter-birth interval as a factor of prenatal development
Supervisor

doc. RNDr. Miroslav Králík, Ph.D.

Parasitic infections as a consequence or a reason of different primate lifestyle strategies
Supervisor: Mgr. Klára Petrželková, Ph.D.
Most human pathogens either coevolved with primate lineages, including those that led to Homo sapiens, or were transmitted from animals during domestication processes. Some of the parasites evolved with mankind for thousands or millions of years and can reflect human behavior, habitat use, and environmental and cultural conditions. Therefore, understanding of human evolution and population history can be expanded by ecological and evolutionary research on our parasites. Soil-transmitted helminths (STH), such as hookworms, nodular worms, or whipworms, and snail-borne schistosomes occur in a range of primate hosts, humans including. The patterns of parasite infections are mostly influenced by spatial proximity of suitable (reservoir) hosts, hosts’ food habits, and in humans also by lifestyle in general. People in communities with low socioeconomic status are more threatened by STH infections which further negatively impact the quality of their life. On the other hand, the absence of parasites in urban human populations has probably led to a higher occurrence of some autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, or some allergies. Ecological and evolutionary studies of parasites in sympatric primate hosts, including humans, can tell us more about the evolutionary history of the hosts, host species divergence, or parasite adaptation mechanisms. The proposed PhD topic aims to investigate how the host’s lifestyle impacts the parasite communities inhabiting the host’s gastrointestinal system using combination of traditional anthropological approaches and different tools ranging from microscopy, nucleic acid amplification tests, high-throughput sequencing, phylogenetic methods, including whole mitochondrial genome analyses or molecular clock, a tool used to determine the timing of species divergence which can elucidate the co-evolution of the hosts. Non-human primates living in habitats differing in biodiversity, including sympatry with other (non-human) primates and various human populations differing in the lifestyle, e. g., (nomadic) pastoralists, rural and urban communities, across Africa will be the model hosts.

Individual projects within this topic could be specified as follows:

1) Relationship of the lifestyle and parasitic infections in hunters-gatherers, rural and urban communities, and primate hosts in Central Africa

2) Impact of the habitat diversity, including co-occurrence of multiple primate species, on the helminth infections in African great apes with focus on mountain gorillas

3) Molecular clock in selected soil-transmitted helminths infecting primates as a tool for mapping the hosts’ evolution

PLEASE NOTE that before initiating the formal application process to doctoral studies, all interested candidates are required to contact the future supervisor.
Supervisor

Mgr. Klára Petrželková, Ph.D.

Topics in biosocial anthropology
Supervisor: prof. Slawomir Marek Koziel, DSc.
1) Biological effect of upward social mobility and social inequality

The aim of this study would be an assessment of selectiveness of social mobility in relation to height. It has been shown that taller persons have greater chance to get higher social position than smaller persons. But upward social mobility could be moderates by the level of social inequality. The study should include 3-4 European countries contrasting in social inequality assessed by commonly used indexes like Gini coefficient. Social mobility would be defined as a changes of the social position of studies person in comparison to his father social position, measured by achieved education level and/or profession. The study could use the social media as a source of information, this would be also novel approach.

2) Polymorphisms of dopaminergic genes: DRD4, DRD2, COMT and DAT1 and risk taking behaviour. Study of (Czech or Polish or Slovak) soldiers taking part in combat missions

The aim of the study is an assessment of relationship between frequencies of certain polymorphisms of dopaminergic genes and risk taking behaviour. There are many reports showing association between polymorphism of DRD4 gen with some personality traits like novelty seeking. Other studies have indicated relationship between long allele of DRD4 with such risk taking behaviour like gambling and financial risk. However, there is a lack of research reporting association between such behaviour and polymorphisms in other dopaminergic genes. There is also no any data showing relationship between those polymorphisms and risk behaviour exposing human life. Proposed study will be based on comparison of frequencies of polymorphisms in three groups: (1) soldiers taking part and (2) not taking part in combat missions and (3) control group of males, who are not soldiers.

3) Role of permanent stress in emerging and sustaining the social differences in biological condition.

The aim of this study would be to assess the stress level based on chemical analysis of hairs and estimation of glucocorticoids and cortisol metabolites level in persons from different social strata. There are many findings pointing out the differences in health and biological conditions between people differed in level of education and job position. Controlling for elements of lifestyle, it would be interesting to assess the role of permanent stress.

4) Body length proportion and age at peak height velocity.

The aim of the study would be to find which length measures and their proportions are the best predictors of age at peak height velocity (APHV). It is well known that the peak height velocity starts with acceleration of growth long bones from lower extremities. So, using the longitudinal data and measures of segments of lower and upper extremities it would be possible to find a certain ratio of certain segments which would be the best predictors of APHV.
Supervisor

prof. Slawomir Marek Koziel, DSc.

Study information

Provided by Faculty of Science
Type of studies Doctoral
Mode full-time Yes
combined Yes
Study options single-subject studies Yes
single-subject studies with specialization No
major/minor studies No
Standard length of studies 4 years
Language of instruction English
Doctoral board and doctoral committees
Tuition fees
The studies are subject to tuition, fees are paid per academic year
€3,000
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