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Noted Physical Anthropologist Cynthia Beall Delivers SEEDS Lecture


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    SEEDS Presents: Cynthia Beall, Distinguished Professor in Anthropology

    Cynthia Beall lectures at UM’s Newman Alumni Center on October 21.

    During the course of her research on indigenous populations living in some of the world’s tallest mountain regions, physical anthropologist Cynthia Beall discovered that Himalayan Tibetans adapt differently than other people to being oxygen-deprived at high altitude.

    Instead of their bodies producing more red blood cells as lowlanders and other high-altitude populations do, Tibetans exhale high concentrations of nitric oxide, a gas that inside the body expands blood vessels and improves blood flow and oxygen delivery to tissue.

    That was among some of the research findings Beall, Distinguished University Professor at Case Western Reserve University, shared with a group of University of Miami faculty members on October 21 at the Newman Alumni Center.

    Her talk, “Adaption and Health among Highlanders of the Andes, Tibet, and Ethiopia,” was presented by UM’s Scientists and Engineers Expanding Diversity and Success (SEEDS) initiative, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Department of Anthropology.

    Beall’s work among Andean, Tibetan and East African highlanders is widely regarded as having broadened our understanding and knowledge of human evolution and high-altitude adaptation.

    Highlighting the research that has earned her international renown, Beall noted that some native highlanders in Ethiopia share with Tibetans the ability to maintain low blood hemoglobin concentrations at high altitude, making them less susceptible to chronic mountain sickness.

    About 20 UM faculty members attended Beall’s lecture, including Ann Brittain, associate professor of anthropology, who attended graduate school with Beall at Penn State. “She was always highly intelligent and energetic,” Brittain said of Beall. “We always knew she was going places.”

    Beall had a private lunch with a group of UM graduate students the following day.

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