Download PDF

Mission statement

I use a biocultural approach to study health and nutritional outcomes among families in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), mostly in Latin-America.

The main purpose of my research is to further understand how intergenerational and early-life conditions, associated with poverty and discrimination, lead to child malnutrition in all its form; and how they potentiate health and disease outcomes throughout the lifecourse.

Work History


Senior Lecturer in Human Biologyl

Loughborough University, SSEHS

Research, Teaching, Enterprise, and Mentoring.

Conducting research with the Lifestyle for Health and Wellbeing Research Theme, international student liaison, and coordinator of three modules within the undergraduate Human Biology Programme


Lecturer in Human Biology

Loughborough University, SSEHS | Centre for Global Health and Human Development

Research, Teaching, and Enterprise

Conducting research with the Centre for Global Health and Human Development. Placements coordinator for the Human Biology Programme. Coordinator of three modules within the undergraduate Human Biology Programme. Coordinator of one module on the Masters programme in Physical Activity and Public Health.


Assistant Research Scientist

University of Michigan-Dearborn, USA

Research on patterns of human growth, biosocial influences of health and disease, ethnic minorities, and health of Maya migrants to the US



Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Royal Anthropological Institute, UK

Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts

Royal Society for the Arts, UK

Fellow of the Human Biology Association

Human Biology Association, USA

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Higher Education Academy, UK

Research Funding (last 5 years)

  • Co-Principal Investigator. Royal Academy of Engineering, UK. (30 July 2019 - 29 July 2020). Communities' languages, identities and belonging in participatory care interventions.   (Principal-Investigator: Dr Sabine Little, University of Sheffield, UK £11,220
  • Co-Principal Investigator. MRC – Medical Research Council. UK - Peru: Relationship between food, Nutrition & Health 2018. Population & Systems Medicine Board. Nutrition and obesity (April 2019 – March 2022)New strategies to reduce anaemia and risk of overweight and obesity through complementary feeding of infants and young children in Peru. (Principal Investigator: Dr Emily Rousham, Loughborough University). £582,398.
  • Co-Principal Investigator. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (22 June 2015). Quantifying healthy birth, growth and development knowledge integration. £136,332.

Publications - Research Papers (last 10 years)



  • Vazquez-Gomez A, Avila-Escalante MI, Azcorra H, Varela-Silva, MI, Dickinson F. (2019). Body proportionality and adiposity are not related in 6 to 8-year-old Yucatec Maya children. American Journal of Human Biology (Accepted for publication on 2 May 2019).
  • Azcorra H, Cauich-Viñas P, Rodriguez L, Datta Banik S, Varela-Silva MI, Dickinson F (2019). Overweight and obesity among urban Maya mother-child dyads from Yucatan, Mexico. International Journal of Obesity (under review).
  • Azcorra H, Datta Banik S, Bogin B, Varela-Silva MI, Dickinson F (2019). Caesarean birth and adiposity parameters in 6-to 8 year-old urban Maya children from two cities of Yucatan, Mexico. American Journal of Human Biology (Published online on 1st February 2019) -


  • Dickinson F, Azcorra H, Datta Banik S, Valentín G, Bogin B, and Varela-Silva MI (2018) ¿Hijo de tigre, pintito? Algunos efectos intergeneracionales sobre la talla y el peso en niños mayas yucatecos. Entrediversidades enero-junio:189-208.
  • Söğüt M, Altunsoy K, Varela-Silva MI (2018). Associations between anthropometric indicators of adiposity and body fat percentage in normal weight young adults. Anthropological Review, 81(2), 174-181.







  • Bogin B, Varela-Silva MI (2012). The Body Mass Index: The Good, the Bad, and the Horrid. Bulletin de la Société Suisse d'Anthropologie 18(2), 5-11.
  • Varela-Silva MI, Dickinson F, Wilson H, Azcorra H, Griffiths PL, Bogin B (2012) The Nutritional Dual-Burden in Developing Countries – How is it Assessed and What Are the Health Implications?, Collegium Anthropologicum, 36(1), 39-45.
  • Wilson H, Dickinson F, Hoffman DJ, Griffiths PL, Bogin B, Varela-Silva MI (2012) Fat free mass explains the relationship between stunting and energy expenditure in urban Mexican Maya children, Annals of Human Biology, 39 (5), 432-439.


  • Wilson H, Dickinson F, Griffiths P, Bogin B, Varela-Silva MI (2011). Logistics of using the Actiheart physical activity monitors in urban Mexico among 7-9 year old children. American Journal of Human Biology 23 (3), 426-428.
  • Wilson HJ, Dickinson F, Griffiths PL, Azcorra H, Bogin BA, Varela Silva MI (2011). How useful is BMI in predicting adiposity indicators in a sample of Maya children and women with high levels of stunting? American Journal of Human Biology 23 (6), 780-789.


  • Varela-Silva MI, Fragoso I, Vieira F (2010). Growth and nutritional status of children from Lisbon, Portugal, and their parents. Notes on time trends between 1971 and 2001. Annals of Human Biology 37 (5), 702–716.
  • Bogin B, Varela-Silva MI (2010). Leg Length, Body Proportion, and Health: A Review with a Note on Beauty. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 7, 1047-1075.


  • Varela-Silva MI, Azcorra H, Dickinson F, Bogin B, Frisancho AR (2009). Influence of maternal stature, pregnancy age, and infant birth weight on growth during childhood in Yucatan, Mexico: A test of the intergenerational effects hypothesis. American Journal of Human Biology 21(5), 657-663.
  • Padez C, Varela-Silva MI, Bogin B (2009). Height and relative leg length as indicators of the quality of the environment among Mozambican juveniles and adolescents. American Journal of Human Biology 21(2), 200-209.


  • Bogin B, Varela-Silva MI (2008). Fatness biases the use of estimated leg length as an epidemiological marker for adults in the NHANES III sample. International Journal of Epidemiology 37 (1), 201-209.
  • Hermanussen M, Tutkuviene J, Cesnys G, Lindeberg S, Kromeyer Hauschild K, Stanley G, Godina E, Bogin BA, Varela Silva MI, Finlayson G, et al. (2008). The role of taste and appetite regulation in the understanding of overweight and obesity. Proceedings of the 16th Aschauer Soiree, Germany, 26 April 2008.

Publications - Book Chapters & Encyclopaedia Entries (last 10 years)


  • Varela-Silva MI, Sanchez S, Dickinson F, Bogin B, Azcorra H (2020). Growth stunting in the Yucatan Peninsula. Chapter 4. In Environment and Health in the Yucatan Peninsula. A Human Ecology Perspective (Federico Dickinson and Hugo Azcorra Eds). Springer Books. 


  • Bogin B, Dickinson F, Azcorra H, Balam D, Richardson S, Castillo-Burguete MT, Varela-Silva MI (2018). Nutritional Ecology. In International Encyclopedia of Anthropology (in production). 


  • Bogin B, Varela-Silva MI (2015). The Maya Project: A mirror of human growth in biocultural perspective. In Sikdar, M (ed). Human Growth. The Mirror of the Society. Publishing Corporation, Delhi.


  • Varela-Silva MI, Bogin B (2012). Leg Length and Anthropometric Applications: Effects on Health and Disease. In Preedy, VR (ed) Handbook of Anthropometry: Physical Measures of Human Form in Health and Disease, Springer, pp.769-783, DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4419-1788-1-43.


  • Fernandez-Del Olmo R, Varela-Silva MI, Prado C, Fragoso I (2010). The Iberian Growth Study: Prevalence of overweight and obesity in Portuguese and Spanish children. In E. Gutíerrez-Redomero, A. Sánchez Andrés, V. Galera Olmo (eds). Diversidad humana y antropología aplicada (pp. 177-188). Alcalá-de-Henares: Universidad de Alcalá y Instituto Universitario de Investigación en Ciencias Policiales.

Memberships and Fellowships

2019-present: Professional membership of The International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences

2016-present: Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts (UK)

2013-present: Fellow of the Human Biology Association (USA)

2010-present: Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK)

2010-present: Professional membership: Auxological Society (Germany)

2007-present: Professional membership - Society for the Study of Human Biology (UK)

2005-present: Professional membership - American Association of Physical Anthropologists (USA)

Publications - Abstracts and Proceedings (last 5 years)

      • Bogin B, Varela-Silva MI (2016). Deep Data Science To Prevent Stunting – Connecting Researchers, Policy Makers and Communities. Grand Challenges Conference | Healthy Birth, Growth & Development Knowledge Integration | Data, Discovery, decisions (D3) Track and Community Convening. London (24-28 October 2016). Podium. 
      • Sánchez S, Varela-Silva MI, Dickinson F (2016). Growth status of Maya children in two municipalities of Yucatan, Mexico. SSHB Proffered Papers Conference, Oxford-Brookes University, Oxford, UK (5th October 2016). Podium.
      • Varela-Silva MI, Bogin B, Azcorra H, Avila M, Castillo M, Richardson S, Dickinson F (2015). The Maya Project: Engaging Maya communities and the general public in research through art and multimedia outputs. 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, St Louis, MO, USA (25-28 March 2015). Poster.

      Invited talks and presentations

      PhD examinations

      2020.07.16. External Examiner. Christian Ngandu (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa). "Association between socioeconomic status with birth outcomes and infant under nutrition in the first two years of life. Case studies in South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo". Supervisors: Dr Shane Norris and Dr Rihlat Said Mohamed. 

      2018.05.14. External Examiner. Stephanie Bispo (University of Southampton, Faculty of Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences, Department of Social Statistics and Demography). "Exploring the links between women's work and child nutritional status in rapidly developing economies: the cases of Brazil and India". Internal examiner: Prof Sabu Padmadas. Supervisor: Dr Amos Channon.

      2017.03.23. External Examiner. Amir Emadian (University of Birmingham, School of Sport, Exercise, and Rehabilitation Sciences). "A mixed-methods examination of the dietary and physical activity characteristics of overweight and obese South Asian men living in the UK". Internal examiner: Dr Tania Griffin. Supervisor: Professor Janice Thomson.

      2017.03.01. External Examiner. Rasha Alfawaz (University of Leeds, School of Medicine). "Exploring the relationship between metabolic syndrome and sleep amongst adults in the UK. Internal examiner: Professor Mark Gilthorpe. Supervisor: Dr George Ellison.

      2017.01.27.. Internal Examiner. Clarice Lim. "Parental influences on Adolescents’ Physical Activity: a Singaporean Perspective". External examiner: Dr Andrew Atkin, University of East Anglia, UK. Supervisor: Dr Lauren Sherar

      2016.09.29. Internal Examiner. Ishrat Islam. "The effects of a community-led physical activity intervention on physical performance of Bangladeshi women". External examiner: Prof Janice Thomson, Birmingham University, UK. Supervisors: Professor Barry Bogin and Dr Fehmidah Munir.

      2015.12.15. Internal Examiner. Maedah Mansoubi, "Sedentary behaviour and physical activity on adults: measurement and behaviour change". External Examiner: Prof John Buckley, University of Chester. Supervisor: Dr Stacy Clemes

      2013.12.11. External Examiner. Conrad Brimacombe (University of Sheffield), "Growth and development on the Genus Pan". Internal Examiner: Dr Umberto Allbarela. Supervisor: Dr Kevin Kuykendall.

      2011.06.30. Internal Examiner. Joelma Almeida. "Parental investment in growth and development: Cape Verdean migrants in a Portuguese poor neighbourhood". External Examiner: Prof Jonathan Wells, Institutional Research Information Service, UCL, UK. Supervisor: Professor Barry Bogin.

      Journal reviewer and Editorial Boards

      Most recent peer-reviewing activities can be seen on Publons

      Teaching at Loughborough University


      PSA604 Data Analysis and Study Skills

      The aim of this module is to develop academic skills relevant to scientists, and introduce the use and calculation of basic statistics working with data collected by biological researchers.


      PSB202 Human Biology Research Methods: Measurement and Evaluation

      The aims of this module are for the students to: - understand, have practical experience of, and be able to critically appraise the methods used for measurement and evaluation that are applied to research in the field of human biology; - develop transferable skills in data organisation, analysis and interpretation - prepare for their final year project module.

      PSC200 Projects in Human Biology

      Supervision of undergraduate projects

      Further training and experience in techniques of investigation and the preparation of reports. Experience of undertaking a major independent study in depth and with rigour.


      PSA212 Homeostasis

      First year module

      Further the understanding of Homeostasis by building on the first semester Anatomy and Physiology module and the knowledge needed to understand the function of the human organ systems.


      PSR356 Bio-Social Influences on Physical Activity & Health

      MSc Module - Masters in Physical Activity and Public Health

      Critical analysis and discussion of biosocial and curial determinants of physical activity and health in diverse human populations


      PSC208 Body Composition

      Final year module

      Biological bases and methods for assessing the composition of the human body. Anthropometry, Bioelectric Impedance, Air Displacement Plethysmography (BodPod), Underwater Weighting.


      PSA211 Human Biology and Society

      First year module

      Current relevant topics in Human Biology, mainly the complex interactions between biological systems and environmental/cultural factors.

      Administrative roles at Loughborough University


      SSEHS Research Committee

      School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

      International Student Recruitment Liaison

      School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

      Deputy Theme Lead: Lifestyle for Health and Wellbeing


      Enterprise Advisory Group

      School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

      Equality and Diversity Advisory Group

      School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

      Placement Coordinator for the Human Biology Programme

      School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

      Department-Library liaison

      Press releases and media and popular press

      Enterprise - The Maya Project

      The Maya Project is a Loughborough University Social Enterprise platform focused on the biosocial realities of the Maya in Mesoamerica. It translates research scholarship into public engagement and international impact via artwork exhibitions and public talks.

      Graduate Supervision

      PhD Supervisions (Internal)


      Susan Ako, MPhil/PhD. The role of gender in primary health care in Nigeria (co-supervised by Dr Emily Rousham).


      Hankook Kim, MPhil/PhD. Fat patterning and body proportions among children and parents: effects of socioeconomic status, living conditions and energy expenditure (co-supervised by Dr Emily Petherick). Proposal Number: R14-P102.


      Emmanuel Assasie, MPhil/PhD. Physical inactivity, lifestyle behaviours, nutritional transition and the onset of hypertension and type-2 diabetes among Ghanaian young adults.

      Ana Lúcia André, MPhil/PhD. Intergenerational and metabolic factors affecting the health of Cape Verdean migrant families in Lisbon, Portugal (co-supervised by Prof Paula Griffiths). 


      Hugo Azcorra-Perez, (PhD awarded in July 2014). Intergenerational factors that shape the nutritional status of urban Maya households in Merida, Mexico. A 3-generations' study.


      Ana Wilson, (PhD awarded in December 2012). Health indicators in double burdened Maya children and mothers (co-supervised by Dr Paula Griffiths).

      PhD Supervisions (External/International)


      Ana Ruiz MarinaValoración del crecimiento y desarrollo de los escolares de entre 3 y 12 años, para la detección temprana de indicadores de programación fetal. Main supervisor Prof Esperanza Gutiérrez Redomero, Profesora Titular,  Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain).

      MSc Supervisions


      Eoin Kerin, MSc. Accuracy and reliability of various ambulatory devices in estimating energy expenditure (MSc in Sports and Exercise).


      Hankook Kim, Msc. Health indicators and maturation levels in Guatemalan children. Are the Maya worse off than the non-Maya? (MSc in Physical Activity and Public Health).

      Daniel Bingham, MSc Socio-demographic and behavioural risk factors associated with the high prevalence of overweight and obesity in Portuguese children (MSc in Physical Activity and Public Health).

      Ashlene Wright, MSc. Systematic review of the literature on energy expenditure and physical activity levels in developing countries. (MSc in Physical Activity and Public Health).

      Jessica Cunliffe, MSc. Validation of MyWellness Key (co-supervised with Dr Stacy Clemes).(MSc in Physical Activity and Public Health).

      Awards and Esteem

      • WINNER: Equality and Diversity Action Group (EDAG) Award 2017. Engaging in equality and diversity actives for the benefit of staff and students.
      • WINNER: Extra Mile Awards 2016. SSEHS, Loughborough University.
        Marathon Award -  Demonstrating a sustained and exceptional contribution to the School.
      • WINNER: Extra Mile Awards 2015. SSEHS, Loughborough University. Representing Women in Science Award 2015.
      • NOMINATION: Loughborough University Teaching Awards 2015 (21 May 2015). Personal Tutor of the Year.
      • HIGHLY COMMENDED: Loughborough University Enterprise Awards 2014 (21 April 2014). International Impact - The Maya Project
      • Science Museum, London, UK. Science expert for the “ENCODE special exhibition” (September 2012 - January 2013).
      • Ministry of Navy, Portugal. (14 April 1998) Copper Medal for Philanthropy .


      • 14 May 2019 Good clinical practice - NIHR, National Institute for Health Research
      • 13-14 October 2016 Lightroom Mastercourse - Certified by Adobe
      • 13 September 2016 - Microsoft Excel Intermediate Course by Focus4 Training Ltd | 9 High Street | Lutterworth | LE17 4AT | 01455 550622 - Company Registration No 6025180 |
      • 05-07 September 2011: Venipuncture and capillary basic course - Phlebotomy  Training Services. License number: PD2/2/NO/001
        • 21-26 September 2008: 3rd Cambridge Physical Activity Measurement Seminar (Homerton College, Cambridge: MRC Epidemiological Unit)


      Diplomas and certificates - Misc