Hilliard Discussion Past Scholars

Dr. Herman Pontzer - 2017 Hilliard Discussion Scholar

Dr. Herman Pontzer - 2017 Hilliard Discussion Scholar

Herman Pontzer

Hunter College

Adapt To Endure: The Limits of Human Energy Expenditure

Dr. Pontzer, professor of Anthropology at Hunter College and the City University of New York, investigates energy expenditure and evolution in humans and other apes. Through laboratory and field studies, Dr. Pontzer’s work seeks to understand how our bodies evolved and how our deep past shapes our lives today.

Using measures of daily energy expenditure in apes and humans, Dr. Pontzer and colleagues recently discovered that humans have evolved a faster metabolism to fuel our large brains, physically active lifestyles, and larger babies.

He also conducted the first measurements of daily energy expenditure in traditional hunter-gatherers, the Hadza of northern Tanzania.

Surprisingly, despite lifestyles that are incredibly active, Dr. Pontzer and colleagues found that hunter-gatherers expend the same number of calories each day as sedentary Westerners.

He is currently leading a multi-year effort to measure daily energy expenditure in non-Western human populations around the globe to understand how differences in daily energy requirements vary with respect to activity, diet, and other factors. 

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