Tara Cepon Robins, Ph.D.

Tara Cepon Robins, Ph.D.

Tara Cepon Robins, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
CENT 120


I am interested in using novel and integrative methods to test the Hygiene Hypothesis and Disappearing Microbiota Hypothesis, which posit that decreased exposure in parasites and bacterial diversity, respectively, have resulted in the increase in allergic and autoimmune disorders that we are seeing in high-income regions of the world. Specifically, my research explores how social and economic change, environmental marginalization, and inequality alter parasite exposure and bacterial diversity and how this change contributes to immune dysregulation. I conduct this research among the Shuar of Amazonian Ecuador with the Shuar Health and Life History Project, as well as in my own recently developed project in the southeastern United States (the Rural Embodiment and Child Health Project). I am interested in combining technologies from microbiology, genetics, and anthropology in order to understand the role that bacterial and helminth exposure plays in immune function, growth, development, and health.

Other research interests include Evolutionary Medicine, disgust psychology as a mechanism for pathogen avoidance, circumpolar adaptation and health, processes and mechanisms related to the development of atopic disorders, endocrine and cardiovascular health, immunology, psychosocial stress, minimally invasive biomarker development, skeletal biology and physical activity.


  • PhD: University of Oregon (2015)
  • MSc: University of Oregon (2009)
  • BA: Marquette University (2007)

Select Publications

Cepon-Robins TJ, et al. 2021. Pathogen disgust sensitivity protects against infection in a high pathogen environment. PNAS 118: e201855218.

Cepon-Robins TJ. 2020. Measuring attack on self: The need for field-friendly methods development and research on autoimmunity in Human Biology. Am J Hum Biol 10.1002/ajhb.23544.

Cepon-Robins TJ, Gildner TE. 2020. Old Friends Meet a New Foe: A potential role for immune-priming parasites in mitigating COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health 2020: 234-248.

Gildner TE, Cepon-Robins TJ, et al. 2020. Associations between market integration and soil-transmitted helminth infection among the Shuar of Amazonian Ecuador. PLoS ONE 15: e0236924.

Cepon-Robins TJ, et al. 2019. Soil-transmitted helminth infection and intestinal inflammation among the Shuar of Amazonian Ecuador. Am J Phys Anth 170 (1).

Urlacher S, Ellison PT, Sugiyama LS, Pontzer H, Eick G, Liebert MA, Cepon-Robins TJ, et al. 2018. Tradeoffs between immune function and childhood growth among Amazonian forager-horticulturalists. PNAS 115: E3914-3921.

Gildner TE, Cepon-Robins TJ, et al. 2016. Regional variation in Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura infections by age cohort and sex: effects of market integration among the indigenous Shuar of Amazonian Ecuador. Physiological Anthropology 35.

Cepon-Robins TJ, et al. 2014. Soil-transmitted helminths prevalence and infection intensity among geographically and economically distinct Shuar communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon. J Parasitol 100(5): 598-607.

McDade TW, Tallman PS, Madimenos FC, Liebert MA, Cepon TJ, Sugiyama LS, Snodgrass JJ. 2012. Analysis of variability of high sensitivity C-reactive protein in lowland Ecuador reveals no evidence of chronic low-grade inflammation. Am J Hum Biol 24: 675-681.

Cepon TJ, et al. 2011. The effects of circumpolar adaptation and lifestyle on the development of autoimmune thyroid disorders among the Yakut of Siberia. Am J Hum Biol 23(5): 703-709.

Courses Taught

ANTH 1030: Introduction to Biological Anthropology

ANTH 3350: Forensic Anthropology

ANTH 3360: Methods in Biological Anthropology

ANTH 3370: Human Biology and Ecology

ANTH 3375: Humans on the Edge

ANTH 3390: Bioarchaeology

ANTH 4330: Parasites in Human Evolution

ANTH 4980: Critical Race Theory in Anthropology

ANTH 4980: Anthropology of Climate Change