Dr. Kathryn Clancy


Dr. Clancy is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois. She is a human reproductive ecologist who specializes in women’s health, endometrial function and evolutionary medicine.

Trainees and staff

Postdoctoral associates

EGDr. Elahe Ganji joined Clancy Lab in Fall 2021 as a Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow. Elahe earned her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Delaware.  And prior to joining UIUC, Elahe was a visiting scholar at the University of Michigan- Orthopaedic Research Labs and Departmental Doctoral Fellow at the University of Delaware, studying the adaptation of the growing tendon-bone interface to increased and repeated loading. During her postdoctoral fellowship, and in collaboration with Drs. Kate Clancy, Mariana Kersh, and Katie Lee, she is excited to explore how bone structure and mechanics reflect an individual’s lived experience.

Graduate students

Merri Wilson, PhD candidate. I am a biological anthropologist interested diver gender experiences and how/when/if these are becoming embodied. Specifically I explore how gender diverse lived experiences (both positive and negative) impact biomarkers, such as sex steroid hormones and inflammation. My past research includes studying the effects of acculturation on mental health outcomes and the effects of maternal stress on offspring hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis function.


MariaMaria Cox, PhD student. Program in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology. Maria studies how chronic stress is embodied and how those factors affect immune function and health outcomes. She is currently working on projects that look at how chronic stress impacts vaccination response to the COVID and flu vaccines. Her past research includes skeletal pathology, analysis of commingled skeletal remains, and osteological method construction and assumption testing. Maria is also a member of the Malhi Molecular Anthropology Lab and the Forensic Anthropology Unit of the Champaign County Coroner’s Office.  


Bryana Rivera, PhD student.   
Bryana is a  first year PhD student in Biological Anthropology. She received her BS here at UIUC in Integrative Biology. Her field of interest is in women and migrant health. She hopes to further examine the effects of stress and trauma on these populations, through measurements of different biological mechanisms. In her free time she likes to paint, garden and dance! 


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Urooba Ahmed Fatima, PhD student. Urooba is a first year PhD student in Biological Anthropology. She is interested in studying the colonial impacts on menstrual health knowledge in Pakistan. She is currently working on the Menstrual experiences with COVID-19 vaccines project as a Qualitative Research Assistant. She received her B.A. in Anthropology and Public Health from Hampshire College.  

Negar Valizadegan. I have received my B.A in Industrial Design from Art University of Tehran, during which I used design against crime approach to design handbags. I have also been serving as a basketball official certified by the Basketball Federation of Iran since 2016. In the same year, I published a novel “In the Mind of Two Champagne Glasses” in Persian by H&S media (London). I am passionate about mental health, children, women, and minorities, and Justice is what I value the most. I am volunteering in the Clancy lab, currently working on the Period Podcast transcription. I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn from the wonderful people here.

Current Undergraduates

Florence Yung, Undergraduate Student Clinical Psychology and Biological Anthropology Major. Florence Yung is in her final year as an undergraduate is currently focusing her senior thesis on the emotional affect of gender minorities who experienced breakthrough bleeding after their COVID vaccines.

Lab alums

Postdoctoral alums

Michelle Purple Hair 300 DPI

Dr. Michelle Rodrigues, PhD. I am a biological anthropologist who studies stress, friendship, and social networks! I received my PhD from The Ohio State University, where I studied female spider monkeys to test the “tend and befriend”hypothesis, which posits that female friendship in humans evolved as a primate-wide coping mechanismto mediate stress. I followed this research with a project examining comparative social networks in chimpanzees and bonobos. My postdoctoral research with the Clancy Lab focuses on two major projects: 1) how parental relationships and female friendships impact mental health in adolescent girls, and 2) how gender and racial discrimination, as well as social support, impact mental health, physiological stress, and inflammation in female scientists. My research on female scientists is funded through a Beckman Postdoctoral Fellowship, the American Association for Physical Anthropologists Professional Development Grant, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.

Graduate alums

Dr. Katie Lee, PhD 2020.  I am a biological anthropologist and engineer studying women’s health using theoretical perspectives derived from feminist biology and anthropology. My dissertation focused on how physical activity and reproductive hormones across the lifespan affect bone in healthy adult premenopausal women in the U.S. and in rural Poland. My dissertation research was supported by numerous funders, including the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and the American Philosophical Society. I am currently an NIH-funded postdoctoral research scholar in the Division of Public Health Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. I completed my PhD in Anthropology with a graduate minor in Gender and Women’s Studies (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign). I also hold a MS in Business Administration (Texas A&M-Texarkana) and a BS in Biomedical Engineering (Tulane University).

Isis Rose, MA 2019. Doula.


Dr. Talia Melber, PhD 2018. I am interested in sexual selection, mate choice, the relationship between hormones and behavior, and cognitive processes. My previous research has included investigating patterns of tool-use acquisition in great apes and studying potential behavioral cues used by female callitrichines to assess male mate quality. In the future I plan to utilize hormonal analyses to provide insight into various aspects of behavior and reproduction in primates.


Dr. Mary Rogers, PhD 2018 .Mary Rogers, Ph.D. 2018. I am biological anthropologist specializing in anthropological epigenetics and reproductive ecology. I conduct research on the connections between lived experiences and biological outcomes by investigating relationships between 1) historical trauma and gene methylation, 2) childhood stressors, epigenetic traits, and reproductive hormone variation, and 3) childhood social support and life history trait timing. I work in partnership with Alaska Native Peoples, Polish and Polish American women, and American adolescents in order to achieve these research goals. I have training in community-based research methods and aims for my research studies to benefit partner and scientific communities. I am currently a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. You can learn more about my research and teaching at: Google Scholar and my website

Summer Sanford, MA 2017.

Dr. Rodolfo Martinez-Mota, PhD 2016.  Google Scholar

Undergraduate Alums

Our undergraduate alums come from many departments! An (incomplete) list of majors and minors of students that have graduated from the Clancy Lab includes: Anthropology, Chemistry, Gender & Women’s Studies, Integrative Biology,  Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Psychology. 

Our undergrad alums continue on to do many different and cool things, including (but not limited to!): clinical research assistant, graduate school (bioengineering, human evolutionary biology, anthropology), medical school, and pharmacy school.

If you are an undergrad alum who wants to update us on your career or life (whether the details go on this webpage or not), please email Kate because she’d love to hear from you!

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