James J.

As a biological anthropologist, Professor McKenna has specialized in the anatomical, physiological, and behavioral evolution of our species. Using an evolutionary and cross-cultural database to justify the research, Professor McKenna pioneered the first physiological studies (of truly) biologically normal, human maternal-infant sleep that involves a breastfeeding mother sleeping next to her infant. He established the first mother-baby behavioral sleep laboratory (in the world) at the University of Notre Dame, Department of Anthropology, from which he just retired in 2019 after 22 years of research and teaching. There he was awarded the highest honor from Notre Dame, the Presidential Award for “exceptional teaching and research over an extended period of time.” Presently he serves as a Dean’s Executive Professor of Biological Anthropology at Santa Clara University and is considered one of the top world experts in evolutionary medicine and, specifically, the relationship between mother-infant cosleeping, breastfeeding and the prevention of SIDS. He has published six books and over 150 refereed articles including two co-edited volumes on the subject of evolution and human health published by Oxford University Press in 1999 and 2007. He is a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an honor awarded to only 10% of American’s top scientists.