Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts


The Pennsylvania State University 318 Carpenter Building University Park, PA 16802
(814) 863-1045

Mary Shenk

Penn State University
Associate Professor of AnthropologyDemography, and Asian Studies
Faculty Associate: Population Research Institute
Faculty Affiliate: Center for Human Ecology

I am a biocultural anthropologist, human behavioral ecologist, and anthropological demographer with interests in marriage, family, kinship, parental investment, fertility, mortality, and inequality. I have conducted field research on the economics of marriage and parental investment in urban South India, the causes of rapid fertility decline in rural Bangladesh, and the effects of market integration on wealth, social networks, and health in rural Bangladesh.

Current Work

  1. Understanding the foundations of inequality and how these shift with both market integration and adaptation to local environments.
  2. Understanding the evolutionary demography of human fertility, including the psychological mechanisms that underpin human reproduction
  3. The behavioral ecology of human kinship, marriage, and family systems.