Physical Anthropology

The Graduate Program in Physical Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh offers exciting opportunities for study and research in evolutionary, developmental, functional, and skeletal biology, bioarchaeology and zooarchaeology, phylogeny and systematics of fossil and living primates, evolutionary theory, history and philosophy of the discipline, and aspects of medical anthropology.

Evolutionary, developmental (especially craniofacial), functional, and skeletal biology represent long-standing emphases in the program, which continue to keep pace with advances in developmental and theoretical genetics. In addition to anatomy and human skeletal analysis, we will be offering courses in bioarchaeology, paleopathology, and forensic anthropology. Zooarchaeology is also now part of the department's curriculum.

Virtually all areas of primate phylogeny and systematics are represented in the curriculum, including courses on hominoid systematics, all aspects of the human fossil record, and the history of paleoanthropology. Evolutionary theory is now taught from a variety of perspectives: its historical and philosophical underpinnings, approaches to phylogenetic reconstruction, and models of adaptation and speciation.

New links with medical anthropology have been forged that will focus on the impact of biology on society and vice versa.

Departmental Facilities and Opportunities

In addition to research laboratories dedicated to experimental and functional anatomy and human and faunal skeletal analysis, the department has a dedicated teaching laboratory for courses in physical anthropology, which houses a diverse study and research collection of human skeletal material (including from archaeological sites); casts of standards for determining human skeletal sex, age, and dental variation; a unique selection of vertebrate skulls and mounted skeletons; and a broad range of casts of hominid and non-hominid fossils. Students may also take advantage of one of the most extensive collections of color images of specimens representing virtually the entire human fossil record. In addition to opportunities to participate in faculty research, students in osteology and paleontology are encouraged and helped to pursue relevant fieldwork, and students interested in forensics can take part in actual cases.

Extra-Departmental Facilities

Students are encouraged to take courses and pursue research in other departments, including in the medical and dental schools and the Graduate School of Public Health, and to pursue research in paleontology, human skeletal analysis, primate systematics, and comparative osteology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Degrees and Financial Aid

Our department offers a PhD in anthropology as well as an MA in a chosen subdiscipline. A PhD student may acquire an MA in the course of that degree program. Support for students is typically through teaching assistantships, but we also work with our students toward other funding opportunities.

Selected Courses

  • Archaeological Approaches to Death and Burial
  • Archaeology of War & Violence
  • Evolutionary Theory
  • Human Origins
  • Human Skeletal Analysis
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Paleopathology
  • Primate Anatomy
  • Primate Locomotion
  • Scientific Racism
  • Special Topics in Primate Paleontology
  • Structure and Function
  • Zooarchaeology

Physical Anthropology Faculty

Margaret Judd (PhD, University of Alberta): bioarchaeology, palaeopathology, trauma, health consequences of social and technological change; forensic anthropology; Nile Valley, Middle-East, Sudan, Jordan.

Mark P. Mooney (PhD, University of Pittsburgh): craniofacial and somatic growth and development, biomechanical response of bone, molecular manipulation of bone wound healing.

Jeffrey H. Schwartz (PhD, Columbia University): evolutionary theory, development, phylogeny and systematic of fossil and living primates, human and comparative osteology, forensic anthropology; Europe, Africa, Asia.

Michael I. Siegel (PhD, CUNY): craniofacial biology, functional anatomy, animal models, and physiological adaptation to stress.

Other Anthropology Departmental Faculty

Joseph S. Alter (PhD, University of California-Berkeley): medical anthropology, public health, social psychology, relationship between health, culture, and politics broadly defined; India.

Kathleen M. DeWalt (PhD, University of Connecticut): nutritional anthropology; impact of policy on food security and nutritional status in Latin America and U.S.; ethnomedical systems and medical decision-making; health ecology; political economy of health; research methods.

Bryan Hanks (PhD, University of Cambridge): old world archaeology, zooarchaeology, bone chemistry; Russia.

Loukas Barton (PhD, UC Davis); human evolution, hunting and gathering, early Homo sapien development

Affiliated Faculty

Annie M. Burrows (PhD, University of Pittsburgh): craniofacial biology, phylogeny and systematic of lorisiforms; evolution of facial expression musculature.

Seth Weinberg, (PhD University of Pittsburgh) craniofacial biology

Tim D. Smith (PhD, University of Pittsburgh): evolution and adaptations of the
special senses in primates, craniofacial biology.

Linda A. Winkler (PhD, University of Pittsburgh): hominoid anatomy, dental development, primate biology and behavior, medical anthropology; Latin America, Africa.

Faculty in Other Departments

James G. Lennox (PhD, University of Toronto): history and philosophy of biology; ancient Greek philosophy, science, and medicine; Charles Darwin and Darwinism; scientific explanation.

Sandra Mitchell (PhD, University of Pittsburgh): philosophy of biology, changes in concepts, methods and policy protocols deriving from an understanding of complexity.

Michael Sobel (DDS, University of Pittsburgh): orthodontics, forensic odontology, mass disasters.