Biological Anthropology at the University of Hawai'i

Biological anthropology (traditionally referred to as physical anthropology) is a biological science that is focused on developing a better understanding of what it means to be human from a biological perspective. Particular areas of research include: human biology (including variation and adaptation); paleoanthropology; primatology; genetics; bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology; and biomedical anthropology. Biological anthropology is one of the fastest growing subdisciplines within the field of anthropology, with as many as 1,500 senior scientists and students regularly attending the largest annual meeting of the subdiscipline: American Association of Physical Anthropologists (http://www.physanth.org/).

Here at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, the biological anthropology wing is currently focused on addressing questions in the human historic and prehistoric records relying heavily on skeletal biology (e.g., linear metric, geometric morphometrics) of modern human and hominin fossils. We also occasionally cross over into the behavioral evolution realm with studies such as examining the nature of hominin-carnivore interactions in the Quaternary record using vertebrate taphonomic approaches. In our wing, there is also a major emphasis on field research. A good example of this is the Research in Asian Paleoanthropology Program (www.asianprehistory.org) which regularly conducts field research in different areas of eastern Asia. While important to be able to do lab based research, as anthropologists, it is equally important to be able to collect data out in the field. Moving forward, the program will be expanding to include other research avenues.


Skeletal biologists spend a great deal of time in the laboratory collecting various data on bones and teeth of humans, earlier hominins, and non-human primates.

Lab Based Photo: Skeletal biologists spend a great deal of time in the laboratory collecting various data on bones and teeth of humans, earlier hominins, and non-human primates.


We have close relations with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) based at Hickam Air Force Base here on Oahu. We often send our students there for internships. We also place students at the Bishop Museum and local cultural resource management firms.

Please feel free to contact us should you be interested in possibly coming here for graduate study, to set up a collaboration, or simply to visit the facilities.

Core Faculty

Christopher J. Bae, Ph.D.
Biological anthropology, paleoanthropology, vertebrate taphonomy, geometric morphometrics, Out of Africa I, modern human origins; eastern Asia, particularly China, Korea, Japan <cjbae@hawaii.edu>

Affiliated Faculty

Daniel Brown, Ph.D. (UH Hilo Anthropology)
Biological anthropology, human adaptation, medical anthropology; Pacific, particularly Hawai'i <dbrown@hawaii.edu>

John Byrd, Ph.D. (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)
Statistical approaches to forensic evidence, forensic anthropology, human skeletal biology and identification, quantitative methods in anthropology, laboratory management and quality assurance, zooarchaeology <john.e.byrd.civ@mail.mil>

Rebecca Cann, Ph.D. (UH Manoa Cell and Molecular Biology)
Biological anthropology, anthropological genetics, human evolution <rcann@hawaii.edu>

Jennie Jin, Ph.D. (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)
Biological anthropology, forensic anthropology, human skeletal biology, paleoanthropology, bioarchaeology, faunal analysis, vertebrate taphonomy, zooarchaeology; China and Korea <jennie.j.jin.civ@mail.mil>


Paleoanthropologists spend a great deal of time out in the field looking for early traces of hominins through the fossil and/or the behavioral record. Field survey conducted in Bubing Basin, Guangxi, China.

Field Based Photo: Paleoanthropologists spend a great deal of time out in the field looking for early traces of hominins through the fossil and/or the behavioral record. Field survey conducted in Bubing Basin, Guangxi, China.


Courses in Biological Anthropology

  • Introduction to Biological Anthropology and Lab (ANTH 215, 215L)
  • Extinctions and Conservation (ANTH 309)
  • Human Origins (ANTH 310)
  • Race and Human Variation (ANTH 375)
  • Forensic Anthropology and Lab (ANTH 458/659)
  • Asian Paleoanthropology (ANTH 460/660)
  • Biological Anthropology Graduate Core (ANTH 604)
  • Special Topics Research Seminar in Biological Anthropology (Anth 385G/750G)
  • Directed Reading/Research (Anth 399, 699)

Links to Useful Related Sites