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Habiba Chirchir

Habiba Chirchir standing in front of fossil casts collection holding a femur

Habiba Chirchir is a biological anthropologist and her research focuses on understanding the evolution of human and non-human primate bone density patterns especially trabecular bone density in limb joints. She received her BA in Anthropology in 2005 from the Institute of African Studies at the University of Nairobi. Thereafter, with funding from the Wenner-Gren Foundation she graduated with an MA in Anthropology in 2008 from New York University with a focus on modern human skeletal anatomy. With further support from the Wenner-Gren and Leakey Foundations she earned her PhD in 2013 from the George Washington University’s Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology.

Habiba’s work mostly involves measuring bone densities in museum laboratories. However, she has also participated in paleoanthropological fieldwork in East Africa. Her dissertation research focused on investigating trabecular bone density patterns in the limb joints of humans, chimpanzees, monkeys and fossil hominins with the aim of understanding whether there are unique patterns of trabecular bone density among closely related species. Her dissertation research was supported by grants from the Cosmos Club, the Sigma Xi Research-in-aid grant and the Explorers Club Washington Group.

Dr. Chichir's current research under the Peter Buck fellowship examines trabecular bone densities among primate and non-primate taxa that have long daily ranges compared with those with short daily ranges. The aim of this research is to understand if there are patterns of low trabecular density among taxa with long daily ranges as a means of lightening the skeleton in order to reduce energetic cost during locomotion. This is based on the biomechanical understanding that long daily ranging is more energetically costly than shorter daily ranging.