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Anthony Di Fiore, Chair SAC 4.102, Mailcode C3200 78712 • 512-471-4206

Chris Kirk

Associate Professor Ph.D., Duke University

Associate Professor; Faculty Undergraduate Advisor
Chris Kirk

Contact

Biography

I am a physical anthropologist who studies primate adaptations and evolution. I completed my Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology and Anatomy at Duke University in 2003. I am currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and a Research Associate at the Jackson School of Geosciences Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory. 

Research Interests:

I have a broad array of research interests in physical anthropology, including sensory ecology, functional morphology, and primate evolution. I am currently conducting research on (1) the relationship between visual anatomy and visual ecology, (2) the functional morphology of the inner ear, and (3) the evolution of North American Eocene primates.

One major part of my research focuses on the evolution of primate sensory systems. This research is important to physical anthropology because many of the major adaptive shifts that occurred during the course of primate evolution involved key changes in sensory anatomy and ecology. For example, primate origins involved a major reorganization of the visual system, including the evolution of larger eyes, convergent optic axes, and a broader field of binocular vision. All of these features are probably related to the need for acute and sensitive vision in the context of nocturnal visual predation. Similarly, the origin of haplorhine primates (tarsiers, monkeys, apes, and humans) was associated with the evolution of features supporting very high visual acuity (e.g., a retinal fovea, macula lutea, postorbital plate, small corneas relative to eye size, etc.) and a simultaneous reduction in the size and complexity of the nasal fossa. There are many other examples of major adaptive shifts in primate sensory system evolution, including the parallel evolution of trichromatic color vision in some lemurs and anthropoids, the complete loss of color vision in lorisiforms, and the loss of the vomeronasal organ in catarrhines.

A second major part of my research focuses on the evolution of primates in North America during the Eocene Epoch (about 56 to 34 million years ago). Since 2004, I have been conducting paleontological research in the Big Bend region of Texas at the Dalquest Desert Research Site. This fieldwork has yielded a large sample of Uintan vertebrates that are currently under study, including a least 3 species of fossil primates that are unique to West Texas. 

Background: Eocene badlands of the Devil's Graveyard Formation, Texas

Interests

Primate evolution, functional anatomy, and primate sensory systems

ANT 301 • Physical Anthropology

31230-31240 • Fall 2014
Meets MW 100pm-200pm JES A121A
show description

 This course is an introduction to the principles and the methods of physical anthropology.  Physical anthropology is the study of human beings in a biological context, and seeks to explain our relationship to other primates and to the rest of the natural world.  In other words, who are we? how are we unique? how, why, an when did we come to be the way we are?The study of physical anthropology requires many different types of knowledge.  Throughout the course, we will examine anatomical, behavioral, and genetic similarities and differences among living primates, learn the basic mechanisms of the evolutionary process, and trace a pathway of human evolution as reconstructed from the fossil record.  The main goal of the course is to obtain a clear understanding of our place in nature.

ANT 350C • Primate Sensory Ecology

31585 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm SAC 5.172
show description

Primate Sensory Ecology is a course designed for advanced undergraduates in physical anthropology and the biological sciences. This course provides an opportunity for detailed study of primate sensory systems from an ecological and comparative phylogenetic perspective.
    The core topics covered in this course are the special senses of hearing, vision, and smell, with a special emphasis on the adaptive and ecological significance of sensory adaptations in primates. For each of these senses, lectures and readings will provide a comprehensive review of the following concepts: 1) general anatomy and physiology, 2) development and genetic regulation, 3) functional morphology and mechanics, 4) neural control and regulation, 5) psychophysics, 6) biological role and behavioral ecology, 7) phylogenetic history and fossil record. Additional senses that will be covered in a less-comprehensive fashion include touch, taste, balance and equilibrium, and the Jacobson's organ.
In studying each sensory system, a strong emphasis will be placed on understanding the relationship between variant morphologies and behavioral capabilities. This dual focus on morphology and behavioral ecology will provide students with an explicit understanding of the effect that the  functional design of a sensory system has on an organism's adaptive niche. All information will be presented within a comparative phylogenetic framework, so that evolutionary novelties (e.g., the haplorhine retinal fovea) can be understood in terms of the macroevolutionary processes responsible for the novel feature's appearance. This approach will further emphasize the importance of certain evolutionary changes in primate sensory systems as key innovations. Toward this end, discussions of current literature will cover a number of special topics in addition to the more basic aspects of sensory system morphology and function.

ANT 301 • Physical Anthropology

31350-31400 • Spring 2014
Meets MW 1000am-1100am FAC 21
show description

 This course is an introduction to the principles and the methods of physical anthropology.  Physical anthropology is the study of human beings in a biological context, and seeks to explain our relationship to other primates and to the rest of the natural world.  In other words, who are we? how are we unique? how, why, an when did we come to be the way we are?The study of physical anthropology requires many different types of knowledge.  Throughout the course, we will examine anatomical, behavioral, and genetic similarities and differences among living primates, learn the basic mechanisms of the evolutionary process, and trace a pathway of human evolution as reconstructed from the fossil record.  The main goal of the course is to obtain a clear understanding of our place in nature.

ANT 350C • Primate Sensory Ecology

31780 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm SAC 5.172
show description

Primate Sensory Ecology is a course designed for advanced undergraduates in physical anthropology and the biological sciences. This course provides an opportunity for detailed study of primate sensory systems from an ecological and comparative phylogenetic perspective.
    The core topics covered in this course are the special senses of hearing, vision, and smell, with a special emphasis on the adaptive and ecological significance of sensory adaptations in primates. For each of these senses, lectures and readings will provide a comprehensive review of the following concepts: 1) general anatomy and physiology, 2) development and genetic regulation, 3) functional morphology and mechanics, 4) neural control and regulation, 5) psychophysics, 6) biological role and behavioral ecology, 7) phylogenetic history and fossil record. Additional senses that will be covered in a less-comprehensive fashion include touch, taste, balance and equilibrium, and the Jacobson's organ.
In studying each sensory system, a strong emphasis will be placed on understanding the relationship between variant morphologies and behavioral capabilities. This dual focus on morphology and behavioral ecology will provide students with an explicit understanding of the effect that the  functional design of a sensory system has on an organism's adaptive niche. All information will be presented within a comparative phylogenetic framework, so that evolutionary novelties (e.g., the haplorhine retinal fovea) can be understood in terms of the macroevolutionary processes responsible for the novel feature's appearance. This approach will further emphasize the importance of certain evolutionary changes in primate sensory systems as key innovations. Toward this end, discussions of current literature will cover a number of special topics in addition to the more basic aspects of sensory system morphology and function.

ANT 301 • Physical Anthropology-Honors

31090 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm SAC 5.172
show description

 This course is an introduction to the principles and the methods of physical anthropology.  Physical anthropology is the study of human beings in a biological context, and seeks to explain our relationship to other primates and to the rest of the natural world.  In other words, who are we? how are we unique? how, why, an when did we come to be the way we are?The study of physical anthropology requires many different types of knowledge.  Throughout the course, we will examine anatomical, behavioral, and genetic similarities and differences among living primates, learn the basic mechanisms of the evolutionary process, and trace a pathway of human evolution as reconstructed from the fossil record.  The main goal of the course is to obtain a clear understanding of our place in nature.

ANT 301 • Physical Anthropology

30975-31025 • Spring 2013
Meets MW 200pm-300pm WEL 1.316
show description

Physical anthropology is the study of the behavior, ecology, and evolution of primates (including humans). This course is intended to provide an introduction to the field and an overview of its sub-disciplines. We will begin with a survey of living primates. The remaining lecture material will be divided between 1) primate behavior and ecology, 2) macroevolution, and 3) primate and human evolution. Labs will generally expand on concepts presented in lectures, and will provide students with an opportunity for hands-on exploration of skeletal and fossil materials. 

ANT 350C • Primate Sensory Ecology

31255 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm SAC 5.172
show description

Primate Sensory Ecology is a course designed for advanced undergraduates in physical anthropology and the biological sciences. This course provides an opportunity for detailed study of primate sensory systems from an ecological and comparative phylogenetic perspective.
    The core topics covered in this course are the special senses of hearing, vision, and smell, with a special emphasis on the adaptive and ecological significance of sensory adaptations in primates. For each of these senses, lectures and readings will provide a comprehensive review of the following concepts: 1) general anatomy and physiology, 2) development and genetic regulation, 3) functional morphology and mechanics, 4) neural control and regulation, 5) psychophysics, 6) biological role and behavioral ecology, 7) phylogenetic history and fossil record. Additional senses that will be covered in a less-comprehensive fashion include touch, taste, balance and equilibrium, and the Jacobson's organ.
In studying each sensory system, a strong emphasis will be placed on understanding the relationship between variant morphologies and behavioral capabilities. This dual focus on morphology and behavioral ecology will provide students with an explicit understanding of the effect that the  functional design of a sensory system has on an organism's adaptive niche. All information will be presented within a comparative phylogenetic framework, so that evolutionary novelties (e.g., the haplorhine retinal fovea) can be understood in terms of the macroevolutionary processes responsible for the novel feature's appearance. This approach will further emphasize the importance of certain evolutionary changes in primate sensory systems as key innovations. Toward this end, discussions of current literature will cover a number of special topics in addition to the more basic aspects of sensory system morphology and function.

ANT 398T • Supv Teaching In Anthropology

31450 • Fall 2012
Meets TH 200pm-500pm SAC 4.120
show description

The purpose of this course is to provide you with theoretical and practical knowledge

about teaching and learning at the postsecondary level, ultimately to help prepare you for a

teaching position in a higher education setting. Major topics that we will cover include (1)

teaching effectiveness, (2) modes of learning, (3) teaching philosophy, (4) course design, (5)

lecture design and delivery, and (6) graduate education and the demands of academia.

ANT 301 • Physical Anthropology-Honors

31090 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm SAC 5.172
show description

 This course is an introduction to the principles and the methods of physical anthropology.  Physical anthropology is the study of human beings in a biological context, and seeks to explain our relationship to other primates and to the rest of the natural world.  In other words, who are we? how are we unique? how, why, an when did we come to be the way we are?The study of physical anthropology requires many different types of knowledge.  Throughout the course, we will examine anatomical, behavioral, and genetic similarities and differences among living primates, learn the basic mechanisms of the evolutionary process, and trace a pathway of human evolution as reconstructed from the fossil record.  The main goal of the course is to obtain a clear understanding of our place in nature.

ANT 301 • Physical Anthropology

30805-30855 • Fall 2011
Meets MW 1100am-1200pm SAC 1.402
show description

 This course is an introduction to the principles and the methods of physical anthropology.  Physical anthropology is the study of human beings in a biological context, and seeks to explain our relationship to other primates and to the rest of the natural world.  In other words, who are we? how are we unique? how, why, an when did we come to be the way we are?The study of physical anthropology requires many different types of knowledge.  Throughout the course, we will examine anatomical, behavioral, and genetic similarities and differences among living primates, learn the basic mechanisms of the evolutionary process, and trace a pathway of human evolution as reconstructed from the fossil record.  The main goal of the course is to obtain a clear understanding of our place in nature.

ANT 398T • Supv Teaching In Anthropology

31265 • Fall 2011
Meets
show description

The purpose of this course is to provide you with theoretical and practical knowledge

about teaching and learning at the postsecondary level, ultimately to help prepare you for a

teaching position in a higher education setting. Major topics that we will cover include (1)

teaching effectiveness, (2) modes of learning, (3) teaching philosophy, (4) course design, (5)

lecture design and delivery, and (6) graduate education and the demands of academia.

ANT 301 • Physical Anthropology

29830-29885 • Fall 2010
Meets MW 100pm-200pm JES A121A
show description

 This course is an introduction to the principles and the methods of physical anthropology.  Physical anthropology is the study of human beings in a biological context, and seeks to explain our relationship to other primates and to the rest of the natural world.  In other words, who are we? how are we unique? how, why, an when did we come to be the way we are?The study of physical anthropology requires many different types of knowledge.  Throughout the course, we will examine anatomical, behavioral, and genetic similarities and differences among living primates, learn the basic mechanisms of the evolutionary process, and trace a pathway of human evolution as reconstructed from the fossil record.  The main goal of the course is to obtain a clear understanding of our place in nature.

ANT 301 • Physical Anthropology

81525 • Summer 2010
Meets MTWTHF 230pm-400pm EPS 2.136
show description

Physical anthropology is the study of the behavior, ecology, and evolution of primates (including humans).  This course is intended to provide an introduction to the field and an overview of its subdisciplines.  We will begin with a survey of living primates. The remaining lecture material will be divided between 1) primate behavior and ecology, 2) macroevolution, and 3) primate and human evolution.

ANT 301 • Physical Anthropology

30015-30065 • Spring 2010
Meets MW 200pm-300pm JES A121A
show description

 This course is an introduction to the principles and the methods of physical anthropology.  Physical anthropology is the study of human beings in a biological context, and seeks to explain our relationship to other primates and to the rest of the natural world.  In other words, who are we? how are we unique? how, why, an when did we come to be the way we are?The study of physical anthropology requires many different types of knowledge.  Throughout the course, we will examine anatomical, behavioral, and genetic similarities and differences among living primates, learn the basic mechanisms of the evolutionary process, and trace a pathway of human evolution as reconstructed from the fossil record.  The main goal of the course is to obtain a clear understanding of our place in nature.

ANT 301 • Physical Anthropology

29565-29615 • Spring 2009
Meets MW 200pm-300pm JES A121A
show description

 This course is an introduction to the principles and the methods of physical anthropology.  Physical anthropology is the study of human beings in a biological context, and seeks to explain our relationship to other primates and to the rest of the natural world.  In other words, who are we? how are we unique? how, why, an when did we come to be the way we are?The study of physical anthropology requires many different types of knowledge.  Throughout the course, we will examine anatomical, behavioral, and genetic similarities and differences among living primates, learn the basic mechanisms of the evolutionary process, and trace a pathway of human evolution as reconstructed from the fossil record.  The main goal of the course is to obtain a clear understanding of our place in nature.

Publications

CLICK ON LINK TO DOWNLOAD PDF

In Press  Kirk, E. C., Daghighi, P., Macrini, T. E., Bhullar, B.-A. S., & Rowe, T. B. Cranial anatomy of the Duchesnean primate Rooneyia viejaensis: New insights from high resolution computed tomography. Journal of Human Evolution.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.03.007

Rooneyia digital files available on DigiMorph (For CT scans click "About the Scan"; For virtual endocast click "Additional Imagery"): http://digimorph.org/specimens/Rooneyia_viejaensis/

2014 Campisano, C. J., Kirk, E. C., Townsend, K. E. B., & Deino, A. L. Geochronological and Taxonomic Revisions of the Middle Eocene Whistler Squat Quarry (Devil’s Graveyard Formation, Texas) and Implications for the Early Uintan in Trans-Pecos Texas. PLoS One. 9(7): e101516.

2014  Kemp, A. D. & Kirk, E. C. Eye size and visual acuity influence vestibular anatomy in mammals. Anatomical Record. 297: 781-790.

2014  Veilleux, C. C. & Kirk, E. C. Visual acuity in mammals: effects of eye size and ecology. Brain, Behavior & Evolution. 83: 43-53.

2013   Berlin, J. C., Kirk, E. C., & Rowe, T. B. Functional implications of ubiquitous semicircular canal non-orthogonality in mammals. PLoS One. 8(11): e79585.

2013   Russo, G. A. & Kirk, E. C. Foramen magnum position in bipedal mammals. Journal of Human Evolution.65: 656-670.

2013   Kirk, E. C. Characteristics of crown crimates. Nature Education Knowledge 4(8):3.

2012   Hall, M. I., Kamilar, J. M., & Kirk, E. C. Eye shape and the nocturnal bottleneck of mammals. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 279: 4962-4968.

2012   Kay, R. F., Perry, J. M. G., Malinzak, M., Allen, K. L., Kirk, E. C., Plavcan, J. M., & Fleagle, J. G. The paleobiology of Santacrucian primates. In: Vizcaino, Kay, & Bargo (eds.) Early Miocene Paleobiology in Patagonia. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. p. 306-330. 

2012   Heard-Booth, A. N. & Kirk, E. C. Influence of maximum running speed on eye size: a test of Leuckart’s law in mammals. Anatomical Record. 295: 1053-1062. 

2012   Cummings, J. R., Muchlinski, M., Kirk, E. C., Rehorek, S. J., DeLeon, V. B., & Smith, T. D. Eye size at birth in prosimian primates: life history correlates and growth patterns. PLoS One. 7: e36097. 

2011   Hall, M. I., Kirk, E. C., Kamilar, J. M., & Carrano, M. T. Comment on "Nocturnality in dinosaurs inferred from scleral ring and orbit morphology". Science. 334: 1641-b. 

2011   Kirk, E. C. & Williams, B. A. New adapiform primate of Old World affinities from the Devil’s Graveyard Formation of Texas. Journal of Human Evolution. 61: 156-168.

2010   Williams, B. A., Kay, R. F., & Kirk, E. C. New perspectives on anthropoid origins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 107: 4797–4804. 

2010   Williams, B. A., Kay, R. F., Kirk, E. C., & Ross C. F. Darwinius masillae is a strepsirrhine – a reply to Franzen et al. (2009). Journal of Human Evolution. 59: 567-573.

2009  Menegaz, R. A., & Kirk, E. C. Septa and processes: convergent evolution of the orbit in haplorhine primates and strigiform birds. Journal of Human Evolution 57: 672-687.

2009  Kirk, E. C. & Gosselin-Ildari, A. Cochlear labyrinth volume and hearing abilities in primates. Anatomical Record 292: 765-776. 

2009  Veilleux, C. C., & Kirk, E. C. Visual acuity in the cathemeral strepsirrhine Eulemur macaco flavifronsAmerican Journal of Primatology 71: 1-10. 

2008  Isler, K., Kirk, E. C., Miller, J. M. A., Albrecht, G. A., Gelvin, B. R., & Martin, R. D. Endocranial volumes of primate species: Scaling analyses using a comprehensive and reliable dataset. Journal of Human Evolution 55: 967-978.

2008  Williams, B. A., & Kirk, E. C. New Uintan primates from Texas and their implications for North American patterns of species richness during the Eocene. Journal of Human Evolution 55: 927-941.

2008  Kirk, E. C., Lemelin, P., Hamrick, M. W., Boyer, D. M., & Bloch, J. I. Intrinsic hand proportions of primates and other euarchontan mammals: implications for the locomotor behavior of plesiadapiforms. Journal of Human Evolution 55: 278-299.

2007  Ross, C. F. & Kirk, E. C. Evolution of eye size and shape in primates. Journal of Human Evolution 52: 294-313. 

2006  Kirk, E. C. Effects of activity pattern on eye size and orbital aperture size in primates. Journal of Human Evolution 51: 159-170.

2006  Kirk, E. C. Visual influences on primate encephalization. Journal of Human Evolution 51: 76-90. 

2006  Kirk, E. C. Eye morphology in cathemeral lemurids and other mammals. Folia Primatologica 77: 27-49. 

2005  Smith, D. W., Kirk, E. C., & Buss, E. The function(s) of the medial olivocochlear efferent system in hearing. In: D. Pressnitzer, A. De Cheveigné, S. McAdams, & L. Collet (eds.) Auditory Signal Processing: Physiology, Psychoacoustics, and Models. Springer-Verlag, New York. p. 75-83. 

2004  Kirk, E. C. Comparative morphology of the eye in primates. Anatomical Record 281A: 1095-1103.

2004  Kirk, E. C., & Kay, R. F. The evolution of high visual acuity in the Anthropoidea. In: C. F. Ross & R. F. Kay (eds.) Anthropoid Origins: New Visions. Kluwer Academic / Plenum Publishers, New York. p. 539-602.

2003  Kirk, E. C., Cartmill, M., Kay, R. F., & Lemelin, P. Comment on “Grasping primate origins”. Science 300: 5620.

2003  Kirk, E. C., & Smith, D. W. Protection from acoustic trauma is not a primary function of the medial olivocochlear efferent system. Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology 4: 445-465.

2001  Kirk, E. C., & Simons, E. L. Diets of fossil primates from the Fayum Depression of Egypt: a quantitative analysis of molar shearing. Journal of Human Evolution 40: 203-229.

2000  Kay, R. F., & Kirk, E. C. Osteological evidence for the evolution of activity pattern and visual acuity in primates. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 113: 235-262.

 

Graduate Students

CURRENT GRADUATE STUDENTS

_____________________________________________________

Amy Atwater

Amy completed her BS in Geology and Anthropology at the University of Oregon in 2013. Before beginning graduate school, she worked as a paleontological technician in Denali National Park. Her primary research interests are primate evolution and vertebrate paleontology. She's also an avid blogger - see:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-atwater/

http://palaeo-electronica.org/content/editors/101-pe-staff/624-atwater

http://www.maryanningsrevenge.com

_____________________________________________________

Addison Kemp

Addie came to UT in 2011 after completing a Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Helsinki. She graduated from Mount Holyoke in 2009 with a BA in Biology. She's intersted in a wide range of topics, including primate origins, evo-devo of the primate limbs, and functional morphology of the ear and autopodia. 

 

 

FORMER GRADUATE STUDENTS

 

Carrie Veilleux

Ph.D. (2012)

Dissertation Title: Effects of Light Environments on the Evolution of Primate Visual Systems

View Carrie's Home Page

_____________________________________________________

Laura Alport Hancock

Ph.D. (2009)

Dissertation Title: Fungiform Papillae and the Evolution of the Primate Gustatory System

_____________________________________________________

Magda Muchlinski

Ph.D. (2008)

Dissertation Title: Ecological and Morphological Correlates of Infraorbital Foramen Size and its Paleoecological Implications

Magda is currently an Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Kentucky. 

View Magda's Departmental Page: https://neurobiology.med.uky.edu/users/mnmu223

 

_____________________________________________________

Academic Genealogy 

 

Chris Kirk's advisor:
Richard Frederick Kay (Ph.D. Yale University, 1973)

Rich Kay's advisor:
Elwyn LaVerne Simons (Ph.D. Princeton University, 1956; D.Phil. University Of Oxford,1959)

Elwyn Simons' advisor (Oxford):
Wilfred Le Glos Clark (1895-1971)

Elwyn Simons' advisor (Princeton):
Glenn Lowell Jepsen  (1903-1974; Ph.D. Princeton University, 1930)

Glenn Jepsen's advisor (1):
William Berryman Scott (1858-1947; Ph.D. University of Heidelberg, 1880)

Glenn Jepsen's advisor (2):
William John Sinclair  (1877-1935; Ph.D. UC Berkeley, 1904)

William Berryman Scott's advisor:
Carl Gegenbaur (1826-1903;  Ph.D. University of Würzburg 1851)

William John Sinclair's advisor:
John C. Merriam (1869-1945; Ph.D. University of Munich)

John C. Merriam's advisor:
Karl Alfred von Zittel (1839-1904; Ph.D. University of Munich) 
 

 

Info for Prospective Students

Interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in Physical Anthropology at UT Austin?

All of the physical anthropology faculty here at UT mentor graduate students. The strongest applicants to our graduate program typically have:

- High GRE scores

- A high undergraduate GPA

- Strong letters of recommendation based on personal knowledge of the applicant

- Research interests that are complementary to those of their chosen advisor

- A personal statement that describes a clear research agenda and professional goals

- Some prior research experience

Students accepted for graduate study in Anthropology at UT are typically offered a minimum of five years of funding in the form of TAships. [My advice: never accept an offer of admission from a graduate program in anthropology that does not provide funding in some form.] Students take 2 years of graduate coursework, although they are welcome to take or audit relevant courses after they have finished their course requirements. We typically expect a student to have completed his or her MA by the end of 2 to 2.5 years. Opinions about the appropriate format of Masters theses vary from one advisor to the next. My personal philosophy is that an MA thesis should lead to a peer-reviewed publication - I have my students to write their MA theses in the format of a journal article so that they're ready to submit as soon as the thesis is approved. Once students have completed their MA and advanced to Ph.D. candidacy, they are encouraged to complete their Ph.D. theses within 2-4 years. The amount of time required to complete a Ph.D. thesis is strongly influenced by (1) the amount of time required to secure funding for the thesis project and (2) the amount of time required to collect data (including fieldwork). 

One important piece of information for all prospective graduate students to keep in mind is that NSF offers generous Graduate Research Fellowships. These fellowships offer more money than most TAships, free you from teaching responsibilities for 3 years, greatly increase your chances of being accepted to graduate school, and are very prestigious. The bottom line: if you are applying for graduate school in physical anthropology, you should also be applying for an NSF GRF. 

According to the National Science Foundation, the average time to complete a Ph.D. in 2006 and 2008 across all graduate programs varied by area as follows:

6.9 years in Engineering and Life Sciences

7.8 years in Social Sciences

9.0 years in Humanities

 

For more information, see:

Physical Anthropology Program Page

Graduate Admissions Information Page

College of Liberal Arts Tips for Prospective Grad Students

 

Other Physical Anthropology Faculty

Deborah Bolnick

Tony DiFiore

Mariah Hopkins

John Kappelman

Rebecca Lewis

Denné Reed

Liza Shapiro

 

 

Eocene Fieldwork

Since 2004, I have been collecting vertebrate fossils at the Dalquest Desert Research Site (DDRS). Located in the Big Bend region of southwest Texas, the DDRS is a 1200 ha. scientific field station owned and managed by Midwestern State University. The DDRS includes extensive exposures of the Eocene Devil´s Graveyard Formation, and collecting trips have yielded one of the best-preserved late Uintan faunas known from North America. The Uintan fauna from the DDRS includes a diverse array of mammalian taxa, such as rhinos, tapirs, brontotheres, artiodactyls, carnivores, creodonts, mesonychids, condylarths, rodents, and insectivores. Several genera of fossil primates are also known from the DDRS, including the adapiforms Mescalerolemur and Mahgarita and the omomyiforms Diablomomys and Mytonius.

More recently, I have expanded my area of study to include other exposures of the Devil's Graveyard Formation and sediments of similar age in Big Bend National Park. Taken as a whole, West Texas vertebrate faunas collected in and around Big Bend National Park, the Devil's Graveyard, and the Sierra Vieja provide a record of North American vertebrate evolution spanning the the entire Eocene (Wasatchian - Chadronian). 

Research collaborators include Chris Campisano (ASU), who is revising the sedimentary stratigraphy of the Devil´s Graveyard Formation and working to provide Ar-Ar radiometric dates for key fossil localities. Michelle Stocker (Virginia Tech) is conducting research on the herpetofauna from the DDRS, and is currently describing several new species of crocodylians and amphisbaenians. Beth Townsend (Midwestern University) is describing new mammalian fossils from the Devil's Graveyard Formation, including rodents and selenodont artiodactyls. 

More information on Eocene primates:

Mescalerolemur horneri

Darwinius masillae

Diablomomys dalquesti

Click on these links to download 3-D PDF files of Mescalerolemur horneri specimens:

Holotype - TMM 41672-232 - left maxilla (2.5 MB) and right maxilla (2.1 MB) (2 files)

TMM 41672-233 - right mandible (2.1 MB)

TMM 41672-230 - mandibular fragment with m3 (2.5 MB)

 

Big Bend Photos: 

Sunrise in the Big Bend

 

Devil's Graveyard Badlands 

 

Canoe Formation Badlands

 

Breakfast on a cold morning

 

Morning hike to the outcrop

 

Adam Gordon (SUNY Albany) prospecting

 

Sam Wilson (UT Austin) prospecting

 

Ashley Latimer (UT Austin) prospecting

 

Rachel Dunn (Des Moines University) excavates a rhino skull

 

Teeth of the Eocene rhino Amynodon

 

Michelle Stocker (Virginia Tech) quarrying. 

 

Chris Kirk (left) and Gabby Yearwood (right) with a crocodile cranium

 

Kathleen Muldoon (Midwestern University) examines a rodent jaw

 

Primate mandible

 

Field Crew 2010 (from left, Rob Burroughs, Matt Chimera, Krista Church, Elissa Ludeman, Jaime Mata-Miguez, Parham Daghighi, Gabrielle Russo)

 

Field Crew 2011 (from left, Laura Stroik, Kari Allen, Katie Criswell, Gabrielle Russo, Rachel Simon, Lauren Gonzales, Elissa Ludeman, Andrew Barr, Rob Burroughs, Travis Wicks, Adam Gordon)

 

Field Crew 2012 (from left, Michelle Stocker, Sterling Nesbitt, Matt Brown, Chris Sagebiel)

 

Field Crew 2013 (from left, Chris Campisano, Lillian Spencer, Matt Brown, Addie Kemp, Sarah Wilson, Beth Townsend, Margaret Lewis)

 

Field Crew 2014 (top from left, Blythe Williams, Ashley Latimer, Jackson Spradley, Katie Ortiz, Kenzie Stewart, Charlie Withnell, Chris Campisano, Chris Kirk; bottom from left: Kristin Phillips, Sarah Wilson, Lauren Gonzales)

 

Relaxing after a long day

 

Courses Offered

Undergraduate Courses

 

ANT 301 - Introduction to Physical Anthropology

Physical anthropology is the study of the behavior, ecology, and evolution of primates (including humans). ANT 301 provides an introduction to the field physical anthropology and an overview of its subdisciplines. We typically begin with a survey of living primates. The remaining lecture material is divided between 1) primate behavior and ecology, 2) macroevolution, and 3) primate and human evolution. Students in ANT 301 attend labs that (a) expand on concepts presented in lectures and (b) provide an opportunity for hands-on exploration of skeletal and fossil materials. 

NOTE: ANT 301 is a required prerequisite for most upper division physical anthropology courses. 

 

ANT 348K - Primate Sensory Ecology

Ecology is the study of how organisms interact with their environment. Sensory ecology is the study of how organisms acquire and respond to information about their environment. 

Primate Sensory Ecology is a course designed for advanced undergraduates in physical anthropology and the biological sciences. This course provides an opportunity for detailed study of primate sensory systems from an ecological and comparative perspective. 

The core topics covered in this course are the special senses of vision, hearing, and smell, with a particular emphasis on the adaptive and ecological significance of primate sensory adaptations. For each of these senses, lectures and readings will review all or some of the following concepts: 1) general and comparative anatomy and physiology, 2) evolutionary history, 3) development, 4) neural pathways and central processing, 5) psychophysics, and 6) behavioral ecology. 

In studying each sensory system, the relationship between morphological variation and behavioral capabilities is highlighted. This dual focus on morphology and behavioral ecology provides students with an explicit understanding of the effect that the functional anatomy of a sensory system has on an organism's niche. All information is presented within a comparative phylogenetic framework, so that evolutionary novelties can be understood in terms of the macro-evolutionary processes responsible for the novel feature's appearance. 


ANT 348K - Evolutionary Anatomy of the Head and Neck

Evolutionary Anatomy of the Head and Neck is a course designed for upper division undergraduates in physical anthropology, paleontology, and the biological sciences. The objective of this course is to provide a detailed overview of the comparative and functional anatomy of the head, with particular attention to the teeth and cranium. The taxonomic focus of this course is foremost on humans, followed by other primates, other mammals, and other vertebrates. In addition to learning the gross anatomy of the head, an emphasis is placed on understanding the functional and phylogenetic significance of macroevolutionary transformations of cephalic structures through time. The format of the course includes lecture, discussions, and in-class laboratory components. 

 

 

Phys Anthro Graduate Programs

Physical Anthropology Graduate Programs By State:

(Number of faculty, areas of specialization, and degrees offered vary by program)

 

ARIZONA

Arizona State Universityhttp://shesc.asu.edu/

---See also ASU Institute for Human Origins: http://iho.asu.edu/

University of Arizonahttp://anthropology.arizona.edu/

 

ARKANSAS

University of Arkansashttp://anthropology.uark.edu

 

CALIFORNIA

University of California Davishttp://anthropology.ucdavis.edu/

---See also faculty affiliates of California National Primate Research Center: http://www.cnprc.ucdavis.edu/

University of Southern California: http://www.usc.edu/dept/elab/anth/index.html

---See also USC Jane Goodall Research Center: http://dornsife.usc.edu/labs/janegoodall

University of California Los Angeleshttp://www.anthro.ucla.edu/

 

CONNECTICUT

Yale Universityhttp://www.yale.edu/anthro/anthropology/Dept_news/Dept_news.html

University of Connecticuthttp://www.anth.uconn.edu

 

COLORADO

University of Coloradohttp://www.colorado.edu/Anthropology/

Colorado State University (MA only): http://anthropology.colostate.edu

 

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

George Washington Universityhttp://anthropology.columbian.gwu.edu

---See also GWU Hominid Paleobiology: http://cashp.gwu.edu/

 

GEORGIA

Emory Universityhttp://www.anthropology.emory.edu/

---See also faculty affiliates of Yerkes National Primate Research Center:http://www.yerkes.emory.edu/

 

ILLINOIS

University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaignhttp://www.anthro.illinois.edu/

SIU Carbondalehttp://www.anthro.siuc.edu/

 

INDIANA

Notre Damehttp://anthropology.nd.edu

 

MASSACHUSSETTS

Harvard Universityhttp://www.heb.fas.harvard.edu/

UMass Amhersthttps://www.umass.edu/anthro/index.html

 

MICHIGAN

University of Michiganhttp://www.lsa.umich.edu/anthro/

---See also University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology: http://www.paleontology.lsa.umich.edu/

Michigan State University: http://anthropology.msu.edu 

---See also MSU Forensic Anthropology Laboratory: http://anthropology.msu.edu/msufal/

 

MISSOURI

Washington University - St. Louishttp://artsci.wustl.edu/~anthro/

 

NEW JERSEY

Rutgershttp://anthro.rutgers.edu/

 

NEW MEXICO

New Mexico State Universityhttp://www.nmsu.edu/~anthro/

University of New Mexicohttp://www.unm.edu/~anthro/index.html

 

NEW YORK

Stony Brook Universityhttp://www.anat.stonybrook.edu/IDPAS/

---See also Stony Brook Anatomy Dept: http://www.anat.stonybrook.edu/

NYCEPhttp://www.nycep.org/

New York Universityhttp://anthropology.as.nyu.edu/page/home

---See also NYU Center for Human Origins: http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/anthro/programs/csho/

CUNYhttp://web.gc.cuny.edu/anthropology/physical.html

 

NORTH CAROLINA

Duke Universityhttp://www.evolutionaryanthropology.duke.edu/

---See also Duke Lemur Center: http://lemur.duke.edu/

---See also Duke Division of Fossil Primates: http://www.fossils.duke.edu/

 

OHIO

Ohio State Universityhttp://anthropology.osu.edu/

University of Cincinnatihttp://asweb.artsci.uc.edu/collegedepts/anthro/about.aspx

Kent State Universityhttp://www.kent.edu/CAS/Anthropology/

 

OREGON

University of Oregonhttp://www.uoregon.edu/~anthro/

 

PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania State Universityhttp://www.anthro.psu.edu/

University of Pennsylvaniahttp://www.sas.upenn.edu/anthropology/

 

TEXAS

University of Texas at Austin:  http://www.utexas.edu/cola/depts/anthropology/

Texas A&Mhttp://anthropology.tamu.edu/

Texas State Universityhttp://www.txstate.edu/anthropology/

---See also Texas State U. Forensic Anthropology Center: http://www.txstate.edu/anthropology/facts/

UT San Antoniohttp://colfa.utsa.edu/ant/

 

TENNESSEE

University of Tennesseehttp://web.utk.edu/~anthrop/

---See also U. of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Center: http://web.utk.edu/%7Efac/

 

UTAH

University of Utahhttp://www.anthro.utah.edu

 

WISCONSIN

University of Wisconsin Madisonhttp://www.anthropology.wisc.edu/index.php

---See also faculty affiliates of the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center: http://www.primate.wisc.edu/

 

WYOMING

University of Wyoming: http://www.uwyo.edu/anthropology/

 

Related graduate programs in evolutionary morphology:

NEOMED - Anatomy and Neurobiology: http://www.neomed.edu/academics/medicine/departments/anatomyneurobiology/researchfocusgroups

University of Missouri School of Medicine - Integrative Anatomy: http://anatomy.missouri.edu/

Ohio University - Paleontology: http://www.ohio.edu/paleo/faculty.htm

---See also OUCOM Biomedical Sciences: http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms/

 

Graduate Programs in Canada:

University of Albertahttp://www.uofaweb.ualberta.ca/anthropology/

University of Calgaryhttp://anth.ucalgary.ca/

University of Torontohttp://anthropology.utoronto.ca/

Université de Montréalhttp://www.anthro.umontreal.ca/

 

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