Helping Make History More Interesting: John Hawks

John Hawks is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He studies anthropology and focuses on hominids and the paleolithic. He traveled to places like Africa, Asia and Europe to study archaeological sites and bones. He likes to study population dynamics and and natural selection. He does a lot of works with human origins as well. He teaches a course called “Principles of Biological Anthropology”, which is about studying human anatomy like skeletons, mostly, to learn more about modern humans and how humans physically changed during their evolution. He has a wife and four kids (which interestingly, he mentioned that he taught them the difference between a monkey and an ape and went off on parents who mistake apes at the zoo for monkeys! It’s a pet-peeve for me too!)  His latest research is called the “Rising Star Expedition”,

I’m passionate about the potential of technology to transform science into a more open and public enterprise. I am building and pioneering new open science projects in human evolution. My most recent fieldwork as part of the Rising Star Expedition has shown the potential of open science approaches during paleoanthropological fieldwork. Last fall we recovered more than 1200 hominin specimens from the Rising Star cave system in the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa, in an expedition led by Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand. In May, we convened a workshop of early career scientists to carry out the first description and analysis of the fossils. With more than 30 early career scientists from 15 countries, we had an exciting time opening this exceptional sample in the new vault at the University of the Witwatersrand. We are now preparing our research for publication. (

John has an interesting blog online and YouTube channel with some cool videos on what he teaches! He describes it as an online course for the public. He also has a fascinating Google Plus page as well.


About History Is Interesting

I like ancient and medieval history!
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