John Hawks

John Hawks at ScienceOnline2012 - Photo by Russ Creech

Photo by Russ Creech, CC-BY

I'm an anthropologist, and I study the bones and genes of ancient humans. I've worked on almost every part of our evolutionary story, from the very origin of our lineage among the apes up to the last 10,000 years of our history.

My work has taken me to Africa, Asia, and Europe, where I have measured thousands of bones and investigated dozens of archaeological sites. In my lab, we work with the bioinformatics of whole genome sequences from hundreds of living people (and a few ancient ones) to uncover the patterns of relationships that connect them. I'm an expert in population dynamics and the process of natural selection on both genes and morphological traits. I've used my work in genetics and skeletal biology to form rich collaborations with colleagues in a dozen countries. I love to discover new friends in new places!

My academic position is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Right now, I'm Associate Chair of Anthropology, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Faculty Fellow, and an associate member of both the Department of Zoology and the J. F. Crow Institute for the Study of Evolution. I'm the recent recipient of the UW's H. I. Romnes Faculty Fellowship and its Vilas Associate award. I've been at the University since 2002. I live outside of Madison with my wife, Gretchen, and our four kids.

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 -- the first is the Malapa Soft Tissue Project and more are coming. This year, I am working to develop a new massive open online course called "Human Evolution: Past and Future", which is booting up for its first run in January, 2014. The course follows me around the world as I interview experts and visit field sites and original fossil collections, and it is open to anyone with an internet connection, anywhere in the world, for free.

John Hawks at Malapa, South Africa

At Malapa, South Africa. Photo by Lee Berger

You've found my weblog, so you already know that I spend a lot of time and effort on science communication. In addition to my blog, you can follow me on Twitter, where I'm part of an active community of science communicators. My work has been featured on several television productions and magazine articles, and I spend a lot of time on TV, radio, and print interviews to communicate new results in my field. I coedit a new review site science e-books and apps (Download the Universe) and I contribute to several science magazines and websites. If you're a reporter looking for information about a new find, please let me know!