Briana Pobiner, an archaeologist of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, collaborated with Circles of Voices in December 2016 to discuss the evolution of humans and the impact of socially constructed racism on our society.
Briana Pobiner has a BA in Evolutionary Studies from Bryn Mawr College (1997), where she created her own major, and an MA (2002) and PhD (2007) in Anthropology from Rutgers University. Her research centers on the evolution of human diet (with a focus on meat-eating), but has included topics as diverse as cannibalism in the Cook Islands and carnivory. She has done fieldwork in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, and Indonesia and has been supported in her research by the Fulbright-Hays program, the Leakey Foundation, the National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, Rutgers University, the Society for American Archaeology, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Her favorite field moments include falling asleep in a tent in the Serengeti in Tanzania while listening to the distant whoops of hyenas, watching a pride of lions eat a zebra carcass on the Kenyan equator, and discovering fossil bones that were last touched, butchered and eaten by one of her 1.5-million-year-old ancestors. Since joining the Smithsonian in 2005 to help put together the Hall of Human Origins, in addition to continuing her active field, laboratory, and experimental research programs, she leads the Human Origins Program's education and outreach efforts and manages the Human Origins Program's public programs, website content, social media, and exhibition volunteer training. Briana is also an Associate Research Professor of Anthropology at the George Washington University.