Human Origins Program Team
Paleoanthropology is inherently interdisciplinary, with scientists specializing in a wide variety of research topics.
Meet the Smithsonian's Human Origins Program scientific team, and learn about the research projects and other activities that we're involved in.
Paleoanthropologist Rick Potts founded and currently directs the Smithsonian’s Human Origins Program and is curator of anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History.
Jenny's official title is Museum Specialist, but she’s really a generalist; she does lab management, administration, logistics, photography, illustration, and research.
Briana's paleoanthropological research centers on the evolution of human diets, but has included topics as diverse as human cannibalism and chimpanzee carnivory.
Matt’s research focuses on the evolution and functional morphology of the human/great ape family, especially Homo floresiensis.
Zelalem’s research interest include the later prehistory of the horn of Africa and the applications of geospatial information sciences in archaeological investigations.
Kay is a Research Curator in the NMNH Department of Paleobiology, co-directs the Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems Program, and studies geological context at Olorgesailie.
Alison is a paleoanthropologist and Paleolithic archaeologist who has worked at numerous localities in Africa and in northern China.
Mike conducts archaeological research in the Indian subcontinent and the Arabian peninsula.
Christian's research explores the behavioral evolution of Middle and Later Pleistocene hominins and the origin of Homo sapiens.
Bernard Wood is the Director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology.
John's research focuses on the processes which led to the emergence of behaviorally modern humans.
Grace’s interest focuses on the evolution of the hominin diet and studies small mammal taphonomy at Liang Bua.
Emily Goble Early's research focuses on mammalian shifts in taxonomy and abundance that correspond with known global climate change in the Pliocene.
Tom conducts archeological and paleontological fieldwork in Kenya focused on reconstructing the paleoenvironments and behavior of Plio-Pleistocene hominins.
Hanneke's research focuses on the evolution, biogeography and extinction of insular birds, and their use as paleoecological proxies in hominin sites.
Habiba Chirchir is a biological anthropologist. Her research focuses on the evolution of human and non-human primate bone density patterns.
Ray’s research is on Old World Neogene mammal faunas, biogeography and paleoecology with an interest in hominoid evolution as shaped by climate change.
Bill Melson was a geologist emeritus at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History
René Dommain studies biological, environmental and climate dynamics in ecosystems of the old world tropics and reconstructs their landscape history from sediment cores.
Ella is a Paleolithic archaeologist whose interests span from cultural adaption and resistance to colonialism to early hominin cultural evolution and landscape use.
Kendra is a (paleo)ecologist and geochemist who studies human-environment interactions and environmental change from the past to the present.
Jessica Moerman is a paleoclimatologist. Her research focuses on how climate changed in the past, specifically rainfall in tropical regions.
Joe is an archaeologist specializing in hunter-gatherers, stone tools, and spatial analysis.
Members of the Human Origins Program team describe what they do and how much they enjoy their work.