Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor, Anthropology

Melissa Manus



My research applies ecological and evolutionary perspectives to answer questions about early life environments, the human microbiome, and health. During infancy, the microbiome is sensitive to environmental variation and directly interfaces with nutrition and immune system activity. Thus, identifying the drivers of infant microbiome development can help uncover the environmental origins of infant health disparities. I am particularly interested in the influence of social environments on infant microbiome development and associated health outcomes, as these dynamics are relevant to questions about human evolution as well as contemporary issues in global health. To date, my work has explored the microbiome across different geographic and cultural contexts in Madagascar, Mexico, the United States, the Philippines, Pakistan, Burkina Faso, and Tanzania. I am a strong proponent of making microbiome science more accessible to anthropologists and human biologists. To this end, my collaborators and I continue to develop "field-friendly" methods for sample collection alongside resources for analyzing microbiome data. Through this work we combine perspectives and tools from anthropology, microbial ecology, evolutionary biology, and bioinformatics.

Research Interests

  • Early life environments
  • Social interactions
  • Microbiome
  • Human biology
  • Evolutionary medicine
  • Global health


  • PhD in Anthropology, Northwestern University (2022)
  • MSc in Global Health, Duke University (2016)
  • BS in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Tulane University (2013)


Manus MB, Lucore JM, Kuthyar S, Moy M, Savo Sardaro ML, Amato KR. A biological anthropologist’s guide to applying microbiome science to studies of human and non-human primates. (In review)

Manus MB, Savo Sardaro ML, Dada O, Davis MI, Romoff MR, Torello SG, Ubadigbo E, Wu RC, Miller ES, Amato KR. Interactions with alloparents are associated with the diversity of infant skin and fecal bacterial communities in Chicago, U.S.A. American Journal of Human Biology: e23972.

Manus MB, Watson E, Kuthyar S, Carba D, Belarmino NK, McDade TW, Kuzawa CW, Amato KR. Prenatal household size and composition is associated with infant gut microbial diversity in Cebu, Philippines. American Journal of Biological Anthropology: 1-14.

Manus MB. Ecological processes and human behavior provide a framework for studying the skin microbial metacommunity. Microbial Ecology 84(3):1-14.

Manus MB, Kuthyar S, Perroni-Marañón AG, Núñez-de la Mora A, Amato KR. Comparing collection and storage methods for skin microbiome research in a field setting. American Journal of Human Biology: e23584.