Cecil Lewis

Cecil M Lewis

Professor, University of Oklahoma, Department of Anthropology
Knowledge / Expertise
Interest/Specialty Areas Molecular anthropology, human microbiomes, human population history, human evolution, ancient DNA, Andean archaeology, bioarchaeology, genetic data analysis

Research Interests

  • Human diversity
  • The microbiome
  • Multiomic methods (aka, panomics and integrated omics)
  • Community engagement
  • Ethics


Dr. Cecil M. Lewis Jr. is a Professor of Anthropology at University of Oklahoma (OU), primarily focusing on the evolution of the human microbiome. Dr. Lewis early career focused on human population genetics; he was awarded and National Science Foundation Career Award in this area. Dr. Lewis began to study the human microbiome during the early days of the discipline; he is arguably the first anthropologist to lead human microbiome research. Dr. Lewis published the first  ancient human microbiome profile using next generation DNA sequencing technologies in 2008. This was the same year the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced their Human Microbiome Project (HMP). Dr. Lewis became a member of the HMP consortium. Included in his NIH HMP supported studies was an active push toward expanding community engagement, with a particular focus on Native and descended communities that are stakeholders in molecular anthropological studies. His work includes microbiome studies with hunter gatherer and rural agriculturalist communities, and Native communities in the US. For one example, after a four year engagement with Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, Dr. Lewis led the first gut microbiome study conducted in partnership with American Indian tribes. His initial studies catalyzed a 12-year career in innovating microbiome science, while advocating, where applicable, a community-first perspective. At OU, Dr. Lewis is the founding director of the Laboratories of Molecular Anthropology and Microbiome Research (LMAMR). Highly successful in all metrics of research, mentoring, and community engaged impact, LMAMR includes a set of shared staff support, laboratories and equipment for faculty representing biochemical, biological, and anthropological sciences. Dr. Lewis also serves as the director for OU Consolidated Core Laboratory for genomic services, which uses shared equipment and external partnerships to pipeline genomic data generation for OU. Dr. Lewis contributions repeatedly garner national press, represent a series of anthropological and microbiome research milestones, and has been supported repeatedly by NSF, NIH, and other foundations, including aforementioned CAREER Award and a current NIH Center for Excellence.
Courses and Seminars: Dr. Lewis has taught a wide range of courses as a faculty member, including introductory courses to Anthropology and Biological Anthropology, the core course for the OU's PhD, "Health and Human Biology", various genetics courses, and a classic class in biological sciences - the “Introduction to Population Genetics”. He has organized numerous workshops for science education, explaining evolution and health, genetics and the microbiome, both internationally and nationally, including within rural areas of Oklahoma. In the last 12 years, his lab has trained 4 postdoctoral fellows, 11 graduate students, 11 undergraduate students, and 3 high school students. Moreover, the broader research group he founded, and now co-directs, has over 40+ members that include faculty, staff, students, and other professionals.

Read More Read Less
Geographic Areas of Expertise International
Western Hemisphere