Gwen Robbins Schug

Gwen Robbins Schug


310 Eberhart Building


Bioarchaeology and Human Paleopathology


Ph.D., University of Oregon


My research is focused on biological, developmental, cultural, and structural determinants of health in the context of past environmental and climate changes. As a bioarchaeologist, I combine paleoclimate data with evidence from archaeological human skeletal populations to assess human demographic and epidemiological patterns over the past 12,000 years. In addition to the effects of Rapid Climate Change (RCC) events in the Holocene, I have done research on health impacts of broader environmental trends—agricultural production, rapid urbanization, and environmental degradation. My work underscores the profound impacts of diverse historical and sociocultural circumstances on recent human evolution and highlights the importance of social inequality in determining the strategies employed by past people in the face of climate change, the experience of resilience, and the long-term health and demographic consequences of these choices.

My broader research interests include human skeletal and dental anatomy, biology, and histology; paleopathology, paleoepidemiology, and forensic anthropological methods.

Recent Grant Awards:

2017–2022: Wenner Gren Postdoctoral Fellowship

Recent Publications:

Buikstra, J.E., Dewitte, S.N., Agarwal, S.C., Baker, B.J., Bartelink, E..… & Zakrzewski, S.R. [& 37 others in alphabetical order, including #25 G. Robbins Schug]. (2022). Twenty-first century Bioarchaeology: Taking stock and moving forward. Yearbook of Biological Anthropology 2022: TBD (131 manuscript pages).

Robbins Schug, G. Halcrow, S.E. (2022). Building a bioarchaeology of pandemic, epidemic, and syndemic diseases: Lessons for understanding COVID-19. Bioarchaeology International 6(1-2): 179-200.

Halcrow, S., Aranui, A., Halmhofer, S., Heppner, A., Johnson, N., Killgrove, K., Robbins Schug, G. (2021). Moving beyond Weiss and Springer’s Repatriation and Erasing the Past: Indigenous values, relationships, and research. International Journal of Cultural Property, 28(2):211-220.

Robbins Schug, G., Killgrove, K., Atkins, A., Baron, K. (2021). 3D dead: Ethics of digital scanning and printing of human remains. Bioarchaeology International, 4(34):114. [2020 volume of the journal but copyright in 2021 due to COVID-related delays]

Robbins Schug, G. (2021). Indus mortuary behavior: Between action and symbolic meaning. In P.  Shirvalkar (Ed.), Culture, Continuity and Tradition: Disquisitions in Honour of Prof. Vasant Shinde (pp 157–173). Pune: Deccan College Post-Graduate Research Institute.

Robbins Schug, G. (2020). Ritual, urbanism, and the everyday: Mortuary behavior in the Indus civilization. In S. DeWitte, & T. Betsinger (Eds.), The Bioarchaeology of Urbanization (pp 49–72). Cham: Springer.

Robbins Schug, G. (2020). Maternal forces: Biological, behavioral, and emotional aspects of plagiocephaly in the past. In S. Halcrow, & R. Gowland (Eds.), The Mother-Infant Nexus in Anthropology: Small Beginnings, Significant Outcomes (pp 235–256). Cham: Springer.

Robbins Schug, G. (Ed.) (2020). The Routledge Handbook of the Bioarchaeology of Climate and Environmental Change. Abingdon: Routledge.

Robbins Schug, G. (2020). A bioarchaeology of climate and environmental change. In G. Robbins Schug (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of the Bioarchaeology of Climate and Environmental Change (pp. 1–16). Abingdon: Routledge.

Miller, M., Robbins Schug, G., Pagani, L., Carrara, N. (2020) A bioarchaeology of madness: Modernity, pellagra, and the rise of the manicomio system in the Veneto Region of Italy. In G. Robbins Schug (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of the Bioarchaeology of Climate and Environmental Change (pp. 255–276). Abingdon: Routledge.

Nystrom, K.C., Robbins Schug, G. (2020). A bioarchaeology of social inequality and environmental change. In G. Robbins Schug (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of the Bioarchaeology of Climate and Environmental Change (pp. 159–188). Abingdon: Routledge.

Robbins Schug, G. (2020). Bio-archaeological assessment of human health and social processes during Harappan civilization in the Saraswati River basin. In S.B. Chakrabarti, & A. Kar (Eds.), Sarasvati: River par excellence (pp 197–216). Kolkata: Asiatic Society Press.

Stephens, L., Fuller, D., Boivin, N., Rick, T., Gauthier, N.,.… & Ellis, E. [& 114 others in alphabetical order, including #88 G. Robbins Schug]. (2019) Archaeological assessment reveals Earth’s early transformation through land use. Science, 365, 895–902.

Robbins Schug, G., Parnell, E.K., & Harrod, R. (2018). Changing the climate: Bioarchaeology responds to deterministic thinking about human–environmental interactions in the past. In J. Buikstra (Ed.), Bioarchaeologists Speak Out: Contemporary Issues, Deep Time Perspectives (pp 133–159). Cham: Springer.

Halcrow S, Killgrove, K., Robbins Schug, G., Huffer, D., Arriaza, B., Jungers, W., & Gunter, J. (2018). On engagement with anthropology: A critical evaluation of skeletal and developmental abnormalities in the Atacama preterm baby and issues of forensic and bioarchaeological research ethics. Response to Bhattacharya et al. “Whole-genome sequencing of Atacama skeleton shows novel mutations linked with dysplasia” in Genome Research. International Journal of Paleopathology, 22, 97–100.

Robbins Schug G. (2017). A hierarchy of values: The bioarchaeology of order, complexity, health, and hierarchy at Harappa. In H. Klaus, A.R. Harvey, M.N. Cohen (Eds.), Bones of Complexity: Osteological Indicators of Emergent Heterarchy and Hierarchy (pp 363–289). Gainesville: UPF.

Bertrand, B., Robbins Schug, G., Collard, T., Naji, S., Polet, C. (2016). Age-at-death-estimation in pathological individuals. A complementary approach using teeth cementum annulations. International Journal of Paleopathology, 15, 120–127.

Robbins Schug, G., (2016). Begotten of Corruption? Bioarchaeology and “othering” of leprosy in South Asia. International Journal of Paleopathology, 15(4), 1–9.

Robbins Schug, G., & Walimbe, S.R. (Eds.) (2016). A Companion to South Asia in the Past. Boston: Wiley Blackwell.

Robbins Schug, G., & Blevins, K.E. (2016). The center cannot hold: A bioarchaeology of environmental crisis in the second millennium BCE, South Asia. In G. Robbins Schug, & S.R. Walimbe (Eds.), A Companion to South Asia in the Past (pp 255–273). Boston: Wiley Blackwell.

Robbins Schug, G., & Walimbe, S.R. (2016). Introduction. In G. Robbins Schug, & S.R. Walimbe (Eds.), A Companion to South Asia in the Past (pp 1–10). Boston: Wiley Blackwell.

Robbins Schug, G. (2016). Demography. In J.R. Lukacs, & J.N. Pal (Eds.), Holocene Foragers of North India: The Bioarchaeology of Mesolithic Damdama (pp 121-131). Oxford: British Archaeological Reports.

Robbins Schug, G., & Goldman, H. (2014). Birth is but our death begun: A bioarchaeological assessment of skeletal emaciation in immature human skeletons in the context of environmental, social, and subsistence transition. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 155(2), 243–259.

Robbins Schug, G., Blevins, K.E., Cox, B., Grey, K.M., & Mushrif Tripathy, V. (2013). Infection, disease, and biosocial process at the end of the Indus civilization. PLoS One, 0084814.

Robbins Schug, G., Gupta, S., Cowgill, L.W., Sciulli, P.W., & Blatt, S. (2013). Panel regression formulas for stature and body mass estimation in immature human skeletons. Journal of Archaeological Science, 40(7), 3076–3086.

Robbins Schug, G., Grey, K.M., Mushrif Tripathy, V., & Sankhyan, A.R. (2012). A peaceful realm? Trauma and social differentiation at Harappa. International Journal of Paleopathology, 2(2–3), 136–147.

Robbins Schug, G., Brandt, E., & Lukacs, J.R. (2012). Cementum annulations, age estimation, and demographic dynamics in a mid-Holocene cemetery, India. Homo, 63(2), 94–109.

Robbins Schug, G. (2011). Bioarchaeology and Climate Change: A View from South Asian Prehistory. Gainesville: University Press of Florida [In Bioarchaeological Interpretations of the Human Past: Local, Regional, and Global Perspectives, Clark Larsen (series editor)].

Robbins Schug, G., & Gray, K.M. (2011). What remains: Bone histology and identification of a starvation diet. In K. Dixon, J. Schablitsky, & S. Novak (Eds.), An Archaeology of Desperation: Exploring the Donner Party’s Alder Creek Camp (pp 157–177). Norman: UOP.

Sankhyan, A.K., & Robbins Schug, G. (2011). First evidence of brain surgery in Bronze Age Harappa. Current Science, 100(11), 16–21.

Robbins, G. (2011). Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater: estimating fertility from subadult skeletons. International Journal of Paleopathology, 21(6), 717–722.

Robbins, G., & Sciulli, P.W., Blatt, S. (2010). Estimating body mass in subadult human skeletons. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 143(1), 146–150.

Dixon K., Novak, S., Robbins, G., Schablitsky, J., Scott, G.R., & Tasa, G.. (2010). Men, women, and children are starving: Archaeology of the Donner family camp. American Antiquity, 75(3), 627–656.

Robbins, G., Mushrif, V., Misra, V.N., Mohanty, R.K., Shinde, V.S., Gray, K.M., & Schug, M.D. (2009). Ancient skeletal evidence for Leprosy in India (2000 B.C.). PLoS One, e5669.

Complete list of publications in google scholar


General Biology (BIO 111)

Evolutionary Medicine (BIO 449/648)

Human Evolutionary Genetics (BIO 560)