Kent student wins major award for paper on benefits of evolutionary medicine

20 September 2013

Justyna Miszkiewicz – Pollitzer Travel award winner: Image courtesy of Dr Wei-Feng XueA University of Kent student from the School of Anthropology and Conservation has won the international Pollitzer Travel award for the second consecutive year for her paper on evolutionary medicine.

Justyna Miszkiewicz, a third year PhD research student, won the highly-regarded award – open to all physical anthropology undergraduates and postgraduates worldwide – for her submission which encouraged collaboration between physical anthropologists and clinicians.

Evolutionary medicine seeks to explain certain human conditions from an evolutionary perspective.

This year applicants were asked to submit a paper to convince the US president and congressional leaders why the next federal budget should include additional funding for physical anthropology. Justyna's submission titled: 'How Evolutionary Medicine can help us battle obesity and type 2 diabetes' also explained the benefits of adopting healthcare programmes that incorporate evolutionary explanations of health and disease. She argued that these programmes could encourage patients to take a fresh look at their biology.

The competition is named in honour of William S Pollitzer, a human biologist and a Darwin Lifetime Achievement Awardee. It is run by the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) – the world’s leading professional organisation for physical anthropologists.

Commenting on Justyna's success, her PhD supervisor Dr Patrick Mahoney, of the University's School of Anthropology and Conservation, said: 'The AAPA reported that they received an unprecedented number of submissions for the competition this year. So to be chosen as one of the international recipients of the award is a great achievement for Justyna. I am very pleased for her.'

Justyna said: ‘I was delighted to hear the news. I am a huge proponent of explaining certain human conditions by using modern evolutionary biology framework so to receive this award for my essay is a fabulous achievement. The money, of course, is also a great help.’

Justyna's prize includes $500 to enable her to attend the AAPA conference, being held in Knoxville, Tennessee.

KentHealth, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent

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Last Updated: 31/05/2016