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Biological Anthropology

Biological or physical anthropology is one of the four traditional subdisciplines of anthropology. It explores topics
in human biology, genetics and paleontology within an evolutionary framework and with consideration for the influence of cultural and behavioral modifiers of our biology. Often the human condition is contextualized by comparing populations from different environments or backgrounds, or by comparing humans with the non-human primates. Emphasis can be on living or ancient peoples. Biological anthropology interfaces with other fields ranging from biomedicine, genetics, epidemiology, and public health to archaeology, ecology, geology, and primatology.

Graduate and undergraduate training in biological anthropology at Temple University is grounded by a strong
foundation in evolutionary theory and is heavily influenced by
the research expertise of the faculty in the areas of
quantitative genetics, genetic epidemiology, reproduction,
growth and development, environmental physiology, skeletal
biology, functional anatomy, paleontology, and primatology. 

Our graduate training program in Human Evolutionary Biology integrates a solid theoretical understanding of problems that are relevant to evolutionary anthropology, the ability to function as anthropologists in the field, and the application of laboratory expertise in the analysis of bio-molecular, anatomical and physiological data. 

In the first two years of residence, graduate students focus on evolutionary theory and its general applications for understanding human biological variation.  Subsequent training emphasizes training in specialized content areas and laboratory techniques and methodologies that students will use in their field research and data analysis. These include
new quantitative models and methodologies linking molecular genetics and our understanding of physiological and morphological variation, such as quantitative genetics, gene
expression studies, and the assessment of genetic
polymorphisms in coding regions of the genome. 

Our graduate program is in an expansion phase and we aim
to further develop research and training directed towards a
molecular/physiological-based understanding of how the
environment and genetic polymorphisms operate to cause
variation within and between human groups.  While the
program emphasizes living people (the faculty has a history
of work in Central Asia and China), these inquiries also inform
past human evolution. Faculty research also includes
bioarchaeological studies of health, population structure, and
mortuary practices in North America and the Near East. 

At the Undergraduate level, our Human Biology Track in the anthropology major also stresses an evolutionary and comparative perspective of humans. This approach integrates molecular, organismic, population and species level data on humans. Our courses cover human genetics, human paleontology, human osteology, skeletal biology, human physiology, and human reproductive biology and behavior, evolutionary theory and primatology.

The prerequisites for many post-baccalaureate and professional programs can be fulfilled with the Human Biology Track concentration. Our students are especially well prepared for graduate training in anthropology and to pursue professional degrees in a variety of biomedical areas ranging from public health, health law, genetic counseling, and forensic studies to medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, podiatry,
optometry and the allied health fields.

Wet Lab Facilities: Dr. Christie Rockwell operates a 1000sq ft. wet lab facility which is equipped to perform DNA and RNA extraction, PCR amplification, gel electrophoresis, DNA sequencing, histology, image analysis and immunohistochemistry.   

Computer/Dry Lab Facilities: Dr. Kimberly Williams operates a lab equipped with computing facilities for quantitative genetics and spatial analysis, as well as laboratory space for analyses of radiographic images and archaeological skeletal remains.


Department of Anthropology | Gladfelter Hall, second floor | 1115 West Berks Street | Philadelphia, PA 19122
Voice mail: 215-204-7577 Fax: 215-204-1410