Dr. Samson has a high-profile research program featured in such venues as BBC, Time, New York Times, and New Scientist. His research investigates the link between sleep and human evolution through revolutionary new approaches, recording sleep data sets and sleep architecture for a range of primates including lemurs, zoo orangutans, wild chimpanzees, and humans living in different types and scales of societies. (He has just received a National Geographic grant to study sleep in Hadza hunter-gatherer communities, for example.) Sleep has been identified as a major factor in human physical and mental health, yet almost no research has been done on the role of sleep in human evolution; Dr. Samson’s research directly addresses the central anthropological question of human uniqueness in comparison to other animals for the major topic of sleep.
Dr. Samson is seen as an exceptional and energetic interdisciplinary scholar using broad, sophisticated research strategies to investigate major behavioural and physiological transitions in human evolution, with results that have significant implications for modern human medical, occupational and life-style issues. Dr. Samson brings a strong teaching and research program for both evolutionary anthropology and primatology to UTM, launching us in completely new directions while complementing existing faculty. For Anthropology as a whole, he will provide new interactions with our strong health and medical anthropology programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level, as well as offering interactions with cognitive and developmental research in psychology and biology.
Indiana University, PhD; Duke University, Postdoc and Senior Research Scientist
In 2019, he was the recipient of the Canadian Sleep Society Roger Broughton Young Investigator Award. He is a member of Sigma XI: The Scientific Research Society and the recipient of several fellowships.
2021 Samson, D.R. The human sleep paradox: the unexpected sleeping habits of Homo sapiens. Annual Review of Anthropology. Accepted.
2020 Samson, D.R. Taking the sleep lab to the field: Biometric techniques for quantifying sleep and circadian rhythms in humans. American Journal of Human Biology. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.23541
2019 Samson, D. R., Louden, L. A., Gerstner, K., Wiley, S., Lake, B. White, B. J., Nunn, C. L., and K.D. Hunt. Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) group sleep and pathogen-vector avoidance: experimental support for the encounter-dilution effect. International Journal of Primatology. DOI: 10.1007/s10764-019-00111-z
2019 Samson, D.R., Vining, A., and C.L. Nunn. Sleep influences cognitive performance in lemurs. Animal Cognition. 22: 697-708. DOI: 10.1007/s10071-019-01266-1
2018 Samson, D.R., Crittenden, A.N., Mabulla, I.A., Mabulla, A.Z.P. and C.L. Nunn. Does the moon influence sleep in small-scale societies? Sleep Health. 4: 509-514. DOI: 10.1016/j.sleh.2018.08.004
2017 Samson, D.R., A.N. Crittenden, I.A. Mabulla, A.Z.P. Mabulla, and C.L. Nunn. Evidence that humans evolved to be natural, nighttime sleep sentinels. Proceedings B: The Royal Society. 284: 20170967
2015 Samson, D.R. and C.L. Nunn. Sleep intensity and the evolution of human cognition. Evolutionary Anthropology. 24(6): 225-237