I am a molecular anthropologist, meaning that I use molecular genetic methods to investigate questions of anthropological interest about the origins, migrations, and relationships of human populations. I graduated from the University of Oregon in 1977 with a B.A. (Honors College) degree in anthropology. I then obtained an M.S. degree in genetics from the Pennsylvania State University in 1979, followed by a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1986, in the laboratory of Allan Wilson. After postdoctoral work at Berkeley and employment at the Human Genome Center at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and the Cetus Corporation in Emeryville, California, in 1990 I joined the faculty of the Anthropology Department at Penn State University. In 1999 I left Penn State to join the new Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, where I direct the Human Population History Group and am also Honorary Professor of Biological Anthropology at the University of Leipzig. I have carried out sampling for genetic studies in Indonesia, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, and southern Africa, and am author of the textbook Introduction to Molecular Anthropology.

Research Interests

Research in my group focusses on the genetic history of human populations from all over the world, in particular under-studied populations for which there are interesting questions about their history that can be at least potentially addressed with molecular genetic methods. The questions vary with the particular study, but usually center around the demographic history of the sampled populations and what factors might have influenced their history. Often we are interested in how cultural variation in such aspects as language, subsistence pattern (e.g., food-producing vs. foraging), residence pattern (e.g., patrilocality vs. matrilocality), etc., has influenced genetic variation within and between populations. We have also used genetic methods to investigate cultural practices, for example using the divergence between human head and body lice to date the origin of clothing. And, we have been involved in studies evaluating the extent and impact of introgression from archaic humans into modern humans. An important theme that has emerged from all of this work is the overwhelming importance of migration, contact, and gene flow throughout human evolution.

Membership Type


Election Year


Primary Section

Section 51: Anthropology

Secondary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology