Department Information - Human Evolutionary Biology

The major in Human Evolutionary Biology is offered jointly by the Departments of Anthropology and of Ecology and Evolution. It provides interdisciplinary training in the natural sciences and anthropology to examine how evolutionary forces shaped the human condition. Core courses provide a strong background in the natural sciences, mathematics, and statistics and an introduction to each of three subfields, which include human evolution and morphology, human and non-human primate genetics and genomics, and the evolutionary basis of behavior.

The subfield of human evolution and morphology aims at an understanding of the evolution of the human lineage and its precursors exploring the paleontological, morphological, and cultural transitions in our human ancestors. The emphasis of the human and non-human primate genetics and genomics track is to develop an understanding of the evolution of human variation exploring human genetic diversity and its underlying causes, as well as the phylogenetic relationships of human populations and primate relatives. This includes the basic genetics of humans, human population structure, prehistoric migration and genetic adaptation, and the comparative molecular evolution of the human genome and other primate genomes. The subfield of the evolutionary basis of behavior aims at an understanding of extant human and nonhuman primate behavior and psychology based on the principles of evolutionary theory. The field explores the variation in social systems and life histories and its underlying physiological mechanisms, ecological contexts, and evolutionary bases.

Majors are strongly encouraged to explore research opportunities, either in faculty laboratories or in field projects such as the Turkana Basin or Madagascar Field Schools. The major is suitable for students planning careers in the fields of medicine, dentistry, public health, allied health, biotechnology, and related academic fields such as biological anthropology, bioarchaeology, and evolutionary biology. Interested students should contact the director of the program for details.