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Shannen Robson, Ph.D.

Vertebrate Zoology-Collections Manager

Areas of Expertise

  • Vertebrate Zoology Collections Management
  • Comparative Primatology
  • Human Life History & Demography
  • Mammals of the Great Basin
  • Collections Move to the New Building


Shannen Robson has been working in Collections and Research Division at the Natural History Museum of Utah fulfilling various positions since 1996.  Beginning in 2008 she has been the Collections Manager of Vertebrate Zoology and is responsible for the care of fluid preserved, dry skins, and skeletal specimens within the herpetile, bird, and mammal collections.  As collections manager Dr. Robson has overseen the move of over 80,000 specimens to the Rio Tinto facility.  As a Museum researcher she has been working with Eric Rickart, Vertebrate Zoology curator, since 2000 conducting field surveys of small mammals in the Great Basin to better understand how these communities have responded to changes in climate over time.

Dr. Robson holds a B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. from the University of Utah’s Department of Anthropology program in Evolutionary Ecology, where she currently holds the position of Adjunct Assistant Professor/Lecturer.  Dr. Robson teaches regularly in the Department of Anthropology, including a survey course on Primates.  Her research specializes in comparative primate life histories and demographic studies.  A 2011 collaboration with Ken Smith utilizing the Utah Population Database received wide press coverage including this article in The Economist.

Selected Publications

Robson, SL and KR Smith (2011) Twinning in humans: maternal heterogeneity in reproduction and survival. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 278, 3755–3761.

Rickart E, RJ Rowe, SL Robson, LF Alexander, and DR Rogers (2011) The shrews of the Ruby Mountains, Northeastern Nevada.  Southwestern Naturalist 56(1):95-102.

Hawkes, K, KR Smith and SL Robson (2009)  Mortality and fertility rates in humans and chimpanzees: How within-species variation complicates cross-species comparisons. American Journal of Human Biology 21(4):578-586.

Rickart, EA, SL Robson, and L Haney (2008) Mammals of Great Basin National Park,  Nevada: Comparative field studies and assessment of faunal change. Monographs of the Western North American Naturalist 4:77-114.

Robson, SL and BA Wood (2008). Hominin life history: Reconstruction and evolution. Journal of Anatomy 212: 394-425.

Jones, KP, LC Walker, D Anderson, A Lacreuse, SL Robson, and K Hawkes (2007) Depletion of ovarian  follicles with age in chimpanzees: Similarities to humans. Biology of Reproduction 77: 247-251.

Robson, SL, C van Schaik, K Hawkes (2006) The derived features of human life history. In: The Evolution of Human Life History. R.L. Paine and K. Hawkes, eds. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press, pp.17-44.