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Center forHuman Evolution and Diversity

Our history of conquest, colonization, and massive forced migration has created a profound and long-lasting social and cultural legacy, and these actions also left a genomic legacy. Transdisciplinary research is necessary to fully appreciate human diversity, to combat health inequity, and to advance wellbeing for everyone.

Zachary Szpiech – Assistant Professor of Biology

David Puts Headshot

"No factor is more fundamental to human variation than biological sex, and its importance to our health and well-being is becoming increasingly appreciated. A transdisciplinary approach rooted in evolutionary principles is the surest path to understanding the development of sex differences and how these processes contribute to human diversity and influence our lives."

David Puts – Associate Professor of Anthropology

Mark Shriver Headshot

"Our Center is important for two reasons: 1) There are many interesting questions yet to answer about human evolution and physical, behavioral, and genetic variation, and 2) There seems to be a continuing divide between what anthropologists know and how they think about human evolution and diversity and how the general public and academic colleagues in other fields think about these topics."

Mark Shriver – CHED Co-Director and Professor of Biological Anthropology

Nina Jablonski Headshot

"Human beings are products of rich and complex interactions between biology and culture that have developed over millions of years. Human evolutionary history informs our understanding of human behavior and culture, and vice versa. Examining only one side of this set of reciprocal interactions risks missing the plot entirely."

Nina Jablonski – CHED Co-Director and Evan Pugh University Professor of Anthropology

Heather Toomey Zimmerman Headshot

“Bringing together multiple disciplines to understand how people learn and reason about complex topics such as human evolution is important for today’s schools, museums, and other educational settings. The Center offers multiple perspectives of how research in this area is conducted, which will enhance young people’s views of how scientific knowledge is developed and of human diversity.”

Heather Toomey Zimmerman – Associate Professor of Education

Peter Hatemi Headshot

"If we are to make any headway in fighting diseases, reducing inequalities and the internecine fighting that appears to emerge so endemically when resources are scarce, values differ, and political approaches conflict, we must utilize multiple approaches, methods, be transdisciplinary and take into account the nature of human diversity, at every level, from our genes to our social identifications."

Peter Hatemi – Professor of Political Science

Eric Plutzer Headshot

"For problems ranging from infectious disease to racial tensions in American cities, understanding that evolution matters but that genes are not deterministic and differ in their effects depending on social behavior and environment is a powerful way to better understand and solve many human challenges. Interdisciplinary research holds great promise for using our knowledge of evolution effectively to improve the human condition."

Eric Plutzer – Professor of Political Science

David Almeida Headshot

"A transdisciplinary study of human evolution and diversity not only helps us understand how and why we became who we are, it is necessary for determining how we function day-to-day. My research examines the effects of biological and self-reported indicators of daily stress on health. How we experience and respond to daily life challenges is intricately tied to the evolution of human diversity."

David Almeida – Professor of Human Development and Family Studies



Penn State undergrads interview research scientists forging new pathways to understanding human evolution. A production of Penn State’s Center for Human Evolution and Diversity.

The info below comes from the Podcast’s RSS feed:

MON, 13 SEP 2021 06:00:00 -0400 ◦ 30 MINUTES

Penn State undergraduate student Hannah Marchok interviews Assistant Professor of Geography, African Studies, and Anthropology Bronwen Powell about her research into factors that may drive dietary practices across different groups of people in different regions of East Africa. Powell also shares her passion for wild foods, international collaborations, and inter-disciplinary approaches to dietary behavior change.

Hannah Marchok, Penn State Biobehavioral Health, with a minor in Global Health; member of the Shriver Lab hair team

Dr. Bronwen Powell, Assistant Professor of Geography, African Studies, and Anthropology

TUE, 07 SEP 2021 06:00:00 -0400 ◦ 25 MINUTES

Penn State undergraduate student Samantha Muller interviews PhD student Natalia Grube about her research exploring the potential of the tapeworm as a proxy to more accurately pinpoint humanity’s adoption of meat eating and cooking with fire. Their conversation also covers Natalia’s passion for youth outreach, the importance of  diverse collaborations, and strategies to improve scientific literacy nationally.

Samantha Muller, Penn State Forensic Science undergrad, with a minor in Anthropology; member of the microARCH Lab

Natalia Grube, Penn State graduate student in Biology, member of the Anthropological Lab

MON, 30 AUG 2021 06:00:00 -0400 ◦ 42 MINUTES

Recent Penn State graduate Amy Mook interviews Nina Jablonski about her ground-breaking research into the evolution of skin pigmentation, and the promise of that research to help to heal the damage inflicted over generations through misguided racist constructs perpetuated by the scientific establishment of the past.

Amy Mook, 2020 graduate of Penn State’s Genetics and Developmental Biology program

Dr. Nina Jablonski, Evan Pugh Professor of Anthropology, Penn State
Co-director of the Center for Human Evolution and Diversity

MON, 23 AUG 2021 06:00:00 -0400 ◦ 38 MINUTES

Undergraduate student Hannah Marchok interviews Dr. Mark Shriver about his work tracking down what he calls “superficial” physical traits that distinguish people from one another – and about his life as a research scientist.

Hannah Marchok, Penn State Biobehavioral Health major, minoring in Global Health

Dr. Mark Shriver, Professor of Biological Anthropology, Penn State University
Co-director of the Center for Human Evolution and Diversity

MON, 16 AUG 2021 06:00:00 -0400 ◦ 27 MINUTES

In this debut episode, the co-directors of Penn State’s Center for Human Evolution and Diversity (CHED) are interviewed by a recent graduate of the university about the origins and mission of their Center – and this podcast.

Amy Mook, 2020 graduate of Penn State’s Genetics and Developmental Biology program

Nina Jablonski, Evan Pugh Professor of Anthropology, Penn State 
Mark Shriver, Professor of Anthropology, Penn State