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 conducts paleoanthropological research centered on the evolution of human diets. She also leads the Human Origins Program's education and outreach activities.
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 conducts zooarchaeological and taphonomic research 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.
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.
Jennifer is a zooarchaeologist and paleoanthropologist interested in the archaeological record related to human diet and evolution.
Ashley works on the fossil record for hominoid (ape and human) evolution in eastern Africa.
Scott's research centers on the ecology and evolution of early hominins in Africa.
Kimberly is an archaeometry specialist. Her research applies methods from materials science and analytical chemistry to paleoanthropological and archaeological questions.
Kris “Fire” Kovarovic is a mammalian palaeoecologist and palaeoanthropologist.
Lynn Sures is a Washington, DC-based artist.
Joshua Porter is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Arkansas
Shannon's research aims to understand the factors that shape variation in growth, development and life history in humans and other primates as well as what skeletal tissues can reveal about life history evolution in the past.
Rahab Kinyanjui is a paleobotanist & paleoecologist interested in understanding past vegetation change and ecosystems dynamics in eastern Africa.
Ryan McRae is a paleoanthropologist studying the hominin fossil record on a macroscopic scale. He received his Ph.D. from The George Washington University in 2023 in Hominid Paleobiology.
Thais is interested in paleoecology, zooarchaeology, taphonomy, and bone surface modifications.