2012     Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University, Department of Anthropology

2009    M.A., The Pennsylvania State University, Department of Anthropology

2005    B.A., Indiana University, Department of Anthropology


Craniofacial variability and morphology; human health and variation; development and growth; computer imaging and image analysis; morphometrics; quantitative methodology.

UCF Courses:

ANT2511: Human Species

ANT3550C: Primatology (with lab)

ANT4586C: Human Origins (with lab)

ANG5486: Quantitative Research in Anthropology

ANG7496: Advanced Quantitative Methods in Anthropology

I am a biological and biomedical anthropologist who uses 3D imaging and quantitative methods to investigate health conditions affecting the face, skull, and brain. I am a first-generation student, an Indiana 21st Century Scholar, and a Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Scholar. I was broadly trained in the four-field approach to anthropology at Indiana University (IUPUI) and specifically trained in biological and biomedical anthropology at Penn State. Following my doctoral studies, I spent two years working as a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Orthodontics and Oral Facial Genetics at the Indiana University School of Dentistry. I then spent one year as a visiting lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Indiana University Northwest. Currently I am an assistant professor and graduate faculty member in the Anthropology department at UCF.

My work investigates how conditions such as Down syndrome or cleft lip with or without cleft palate influence craniofacial form. My more recent collaborative work is focused on attempts to improve developmental outcomes for individuals with Down syndrome by studying the effects of supplementation in children or treatment in genetically altered murine models using a compound that reduces overexpression, caused by trisomy, of an important craniofacial gene. Much of my work is cross-disciplinary and highly collaborative. In addition to other anthropologists, I frequently work with dental professionals, medical practitioners, radiologists, geneticists, and biologists. Taken together, this work has resulted in over 18 peer-reviewed publications in a variety of journals including Forensic Science International, Journal of Contemporary Anthropology, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Annals of Plastic Surgery, International Journal of Morphology, Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, Journal of Forensic Science, American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A, Clinical Anatomy, Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal, Human Molecular Genetics, Australian Orthodontic Journal, and The Anatomical Record. I have presented research at numerous national and international conferences including the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, American Society of Craniofacial Genetics, the International Congress on Cleft Lip/Palate and Related Craniofacial Anomalies, American Anthropological Association, American Association for Dental Research, American Cleft-Palate-Craniofacial Association, International Association for Dental Research, the Iberian Symposium on Geometric Morphometrics, American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, the European Society for Evolutionary Developmental Biology, American Society of Human Genetics, the Southwestern Social Science Association, and the American Association of Anatomy. I have worked as a peer reviewer for a number of journals including Forensic Science International, the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Forensic Medicine and Anatomy Research, Journal of Contemporary Anthropology, Legal Medicine, Annual Review & Research in Biology, Museum and Social Issues, PLOS ONE, World Archaeology, Orthodontics and Craniofacial Research, Journal of Dental Research, Acta Odontologica Scandinavica, Archives of Oral Biology, and the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A. I was honored by the Forensic Science International journal with an “Excellence in Peer Review” award in 2013 for reviewing more than 50 manuscripts.

I spend a great deal of time directly mentoring students doing research (37 undergraduate, and 1 graduate student at UCF so far). These students come from a variety of backgrounds including: anthropology, biology, psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic science biochemistry, nursing, pre-clinical health sciences, pre-veterinarian studies, and zoology. This mixture of students helps facilitate our department’s integrative approach to anthropological pedagogy and enables an exchange of information and ideas that typically does not occur when anthropologists work in isolation. Several of my students have been featured in College of Science news articles. I’ve worked on numerous Honors in the Major (HIM) and MA committees. Many of my students present research at conferences, and I have published manuscripts with student co-authors on several occasions. I am proud to report that several of my students have gone on to pursue advanced studies in graduate programs, physician assistant programs, and medical schools, while others have gone directly into the work force.

Research Specialization

Dr. Starbuck investigates human variation, anatomy, and health. He specializes in studying morphology and dysmorphology of craniofacial anatomy using 3D imaging modalities, powerful visualization software, and multivariate morphometric approaches that quantify variation of the craniofacial complex. Morphological deviations and associated health issues can be caused by genetic, environmental, or unknown teratogenic factors, which may disrupt or perturb craniofacial morphogenesis of soft and hard tissues during development and growth. Dr. Starbuck’s research intersects with the biological, forensic, anatomical, and medical disciplines.

Using 3D images of humans and genetically modified animal models, Dr. Starbuck studies trisomy 21 (i.e., Down syndrome). He is also interested in other conditions affecting the skull and face (e.g., cleft lip with or without cleft palate), basic human variation, and the history of congenital anomaly depictions in material culture.

Research Goals

Dr. Starbuck’s goals are to better understand how health problems arise in individuals affected by genetic and environmental perturbations by studying 3D images of humans and animal models. His research is important to anyone directly or indirectly affected by these conditions and to the biomedical community, which is interested in better understanding these conditions and alleviating health issues that occur in individuals affected by genetic and environmental conditions.

The long-range goals of Dr. Starbucks laboratory include:

  • Quantitative assessment of anatomical changes (e.g., brain, craniofacial complex) occurring from genetic (e.g. trisomy 21), environmental, and treatment effects in humans
  • Development and assessment of animal models mimicking human conditions
  • Potential rescue of anatomy and/or alleviation of comorbidities and health issues that affect developmentally perturbed humans and animal models

Dr. Starbuck’s research agenda is active and can include student researchers. Dr. Starbuck collaborates with anthropologists and individuals from other disciplines including (but not limited to) dental professionals, medical practitioners, geneticists, and biologists.

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