Julie Lesnik

Julie Lesnik

Associate Professor, Biological Anthropology


313-577-5958 (fax)


 3055 FAB



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Julie Lesnik

Research interest(s)/area of expertise

  • Biological anthropology: ecology, nutrition, foraged foods, edible insects. Anti-colonial, anti-patriarchal, multispecies anthropology.
  • I am actively recruiting students at the MA and PhD level. Please use the link below to contact the department for more information about our graduate programs.         https://clas.wayne.edu/anthropology/admissions/request-info    


  • Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Michigan, 2011
  • M.S., Kinesiology, University of Michigan, 2011
  • B.S., Anthropology, Northern Illinois University, 2003

Awards and grants

Julie J. Lesnik is a 2015‒2016 recipient of the American Fellowship from the American Association of University Women and a 2018-2019 fellow of the Leshner Leadership Institute for Public Engagement with Science of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Selected publications

Edible Insects and Human Evolution.  2018.  University Press of Florida.

(Available digitally to WSU community here).

From the back cover:

"An original and satisfying synthesis on the evolution of the human diet that draws from all the relevant fields of the natural and social sciences."—W. C. McGrew, author of The Cultured Chimpanzee: Reflections on Cultural Primatology

"Engaging. Argues most convincingly that insects were an important food source during human evolution."—Margaret J. Schoeninger, University of California San Diego

Researchers who study ancient human diets tend to focus on meat eating because the practice of butchery is very apparent in the archaeological record. In this volume, Julie Lesnik highlights a different food source, tracing evidence that humans and their hominin ancestors also consumed insects throughout the entire course of human evolution.

Lesnik combines primatology, sociocultural anthropology, reproductive physiology, and paleoanthropology to examine the role of insects in the diets of hunter-gatherers and our nonhuman primate cousins. She posits that women would likely spend more time foraging for and eating insects than men, arguing that this pattern is important to note because women are too often ignored in reconstructions of ancient human behavior. Because of the abundance of insects and the low risk of acquiring them, insects were a reliable food source that mothers used to feed their families over the past five million years.

Although they are consumed worldwide to this day, insects are not usually considered food in Western societies. Tying together ancient history with our modern lives, Lesnik points out that insects are highly nutritious and a very sustainable protein alternative. She believes that if we accept that edible insects are a part of the human legacy, we may have new conversations about what is good to eat—both in past diets and for the future of food.

Currently teaching

  • ANT 2110 Introduction to Physical Anthropology
  • ANT 5140 Biology and Culture


  • ANT 2110 Introduction to Physical Anthropology
  • ANT 2400 Food and Culture


Courses taught

 Other courses taught:
  • ANT 7650 Seminar in Physical Anthropology (W2020)
  • ANT 5180 Forensic Anthropology (W2019)