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The Institute of Human Origins is one of the preeminent research organizations in the world devoted to the science of human origins.
A research center of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, IHO pursues an integrative strategy for research and discovery central to its over 30-year-old founding mission, bridging social, earth, and life science approaches to the most important questions concerning the course, causes, and timing of events in the human career over deep time.
IHO fosters public awareness of human origins and its relevance to contemporary society through innovative outreach programs that create timely, accurate information for both education and lay communities.
IHO Research Scientists are teaching faculty in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change.
See our research faculty page for full list of our faculty affiliates (including expertise, room numbers, bios, etc), and explore the people section to get an idea of who our local and international collaborators are and where you can find them.
The Institute of Human Origins is one of the preeminent organizations in the world devoted to the science of human origins and pursues an integrative strategy for research and discovery central to its over 30-year-old founding mission, bridging social, earth, and life science approaches to the most important questions concerning the course, causes, and timing of events in the human career over deep time. IHO’s international prominence in human origins flows from:
The Institute of Human Origins was founded in 1981 by Donald C. Johanson, world-renowned paleoanthropologist and sought-after public advocate for science outreach and education. In 1974, Johanson discovered the 3.2-million-year-old fossil bones of a new species, Australopithecus afarensis, popularly known as “Lucy.” Lucy has been called the “Queen of the Hominid Skeletons” by the journal Science, which reflects the scientific position of this discovery, often used as the yardstick by which every discovery in human origins science is measured.
In 2015, led by IHO Research Associates Kaye Reed and Chris Campisano, a field team working in the Ledi-Geraru research area, Afar Regional State, Ethiopia, discovered a fossil lower jaw that pushes back evidence for the human genus—Homo—to 2.8 million years ago. The research was published in the journal Science. The jaw predates the previously known fossils of the Homo lineage by approximately 400,000 years.
Scientists affiliated with IHO are involved in research across all scales and disciplines for understanding how we “became human.” IHO scientists:
In addition to a high level of scientific achievement—IHO faculty include a Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (William Kimbel and Gary Schwartz), Nobel Symposium invited speaker (Curtis Marean), and two-year Program Director for the National Science Foundation Anthropology Program (Kaye Reed).
Three faculty members have received excellence in teaching and innovation awards, one ASU President’s Professor award winner and a Faculty Women’s Association Mentor awardee (Kaye Reed) and two Provost’s Faculty Achievement Awards for Defining Edge Research in Social Science (Curtis Marean and Gary Schwartz). Curtis Marean was also named as a Foundation Professor in 2015.
IHO faculty also hold two special designations for endowed chairs—Founding Director Donald C. Johanson is the Virginia M. Ullman Chair in Human Origins and Director William Kimbel is the Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment.
The Institute of Human Origins extends its scientific research through a network of International Research Affiliates, which provides an intellectually potent source of perspectives, expertise, and tools on the leading edge of research via formalized institutional partnerships and individual collaborations from the University of Chicago; University Complutense of Madrid, Spain; The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; American School for Classical Studies in Athens (Greece); Tel Aviv University, and University of Missouri.
The Institute of Human Origins is a model for a strong public/private partnership between ASU and the IHO Research Council that is key to our success and a critical aspect of our long-term vision.
The IHO Research Council is led by an Executive Board, which plays a vital role in strategic planning, development, and financial oversight. The Research Council comprises individuals from business, education, and scientific communities who provide financial support for operations, research, and outreach and, through its broad network, provides a diverse outlet for IHO’s diverse public programs.
We have a long-term commitment to strategically important field sites and cutting-edge analysis supported by public and private funding.
PhD graduates affiliated with IHO scientists (1997–2017)
percent of our PhD graduates are women
affiliated graduate students in 2017