Who I Am

Extracurricular: Leakey Foundation Baldwin Fellowship

PhD Major: Biological Anthropology 

A Bit About Me

I am a third-year Ph.D. student in Biological Anthropology at CSU. For the first two years of my Ph.D., I was a Leakey Foundation Baldwin Fellow. I was born and raised in the rural highlands of Ethiopia, and I completed my B.A. in Archaeology and Heritage Management and my M.Sc. in Paleoanthropology at Addis Ababa University. Before coming to CSU, I worked as a senior expert at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Ethiopia and as an archaeology curator at the National Museum of Ethiopia. I have participated in various paleoanthropological and archaeological field projects, including at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, Afar and Shinfa in Ethiopia, and the Washakie Wilderness in Wyoming.  

I am fascinated by the evolution of human carnivory because it is temporally linked to the origins of culture, with the invention of stone tools and also with the expansion of brain sizes seen in our ancestors beginning around 2.5 million years ago. This is why my PhD takes me to Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania where there is an extensive record of butchered fossils covering the last 2 million years. This will allow me to examine the Plio-Pleistocene hominin behavioral and cultural evolution through bone surface modification analysis. 

What I Hope To Do

With the support of this grant, I will examine fossils from excavated archaeological sites for marks left behind by human and carnivore feeding. I will investigate the types and amounts of animal foods our ancestors were consuming and how they were interacting with carnivores as they encroached upon their niche. This work will allow us to understand the importance of animal foods in the behavioral and biological evolution of our ancestors and provide insights into the origin of our own species.

After obtaining my PhD, my goal is to be a professor in the field of human evolution. I plan to collaborate closely with the Center for Human Origins at Addis Ababa University and the Ethiopian Heritage Authority and establish a research project in Afar, Ethiopia. I will use my global connections to bring world-class researchers to East Africa to enhance capacity among East African scholars. Though East Africa is a pioneering region of paleoanthropological sites, there are still limited trained human origins scientists and scientific equipment to curate the findings, conduct research, and train young researchers. I am genuinely looking forward to supporting young scholars in our pursuit of understanding where we came from as a species.

My Personal Thanks

I am very honored to have received the Africa Center Graduate Student Research Scholarship. This scholarship will allow me to travel to Olduvai Gorge and collect data for my dissertation. I would like to extend my eternal gratitude for this generous grant and everyone who made this possible, especially the donors, the Africa Center,  and the the School of Global and Environmental Sustainabilty.