David J. Meltzer began in archaeology as a 15-year old high school student, and has been at it ever since. His undergraduate education was in Anthropology (with a minor in soils) at the University of Maryland, followed by a Masters and PhD at the University of Washington, doing coursework in archaeology and Quaternary sciences. He joined the Department of Anthropology at Southern Methodist University as an Assistant Professor, where he is now the Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory, and the Executive Director of the Quest Archaeological Research Program. Along the way, he has had extramural research appointments in the Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution; the Department of Anthropology, Harvard University; and as a Beaufort Scholar at St. John’s College, Cambridge University. He is currently an Affiliate Professor in Prehistory, Climate and Environment, at the Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Centre, GLOBE Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Research Interests

An archaeologist, my research interests primarily center on the origins, antiquity, and adaptations of the first peoples(Paleoindians), who colonized North America at the end of the Pleistocene (Ice Age). I seek to understand how these hunter-gatherers met the challenges of moving across and adapting to the vast, initially unknown, ecologically diverse landscape of Late Glacial North America, during a time of significant climate change. That interest has involved investigations into the processes of landscape learning, the demographics of colonization, the possible role of Paleoindian groups in Late Pleistocene mammalian extinctions, the effects of climate change on early Paleoindian foragers, and the adaptive mechanisms that enabled initial colonizers to disperse rapidly across the continent. These research interests have been pursued through archaeological fieldwork in many areas of North America, from arctic Alaska to the southern High Plains, and most recently in the exploration of high elevation sites of Late Pleistocene age on the western slope of the Rockies. Much of this research has involved collaboration with geologists, palynologists and vertebrate paleontologists, in order to develop a finer-grained record of the climatic and ecological changes that would have directly impacted human foragers, along with geneticists in using ancient DNA to better understand human population history.

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Primary Section

Section 51: Anthropology

Secondary Section

Section 63: Environmental Sciences and Ecology