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Why Give

IHO Campaign ASU 2020 brochureAn investment in the Institute of Human Origins helps to fund student scholarships, support research in laboratories and field sites, and meet the growing needs of our researchers and students. Please help us continue the search!

Learn more about our Campaign ASU 2020 Priorities

Connect with us

Bill Kavan
Senior Director of Development, CLAS
480-965-7546
bill.kavan@asu.edu

"The study of how and where humans developed on Earth has never been more vibrant than today. We are seeking visionary partners to join our mission to advance the science of human origins and explore the ongoing challenges of our field and laboratory research."

William H. Kimbel, Director and
Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment

How You Make a Difference

Donald C. Johanson
Paleoanthropological Research Endowment

The Institute of Human Origins invites you to share in the excitement of discovery, the pursuit of new knowledge, and the public discussion of the enduring puzzle of how we "became human." 

Featured Initiatives

Through Campaign ASU 2020, we will solidify the foundation of IHO’s research agenda on the evolution of human uniqueness and expand the scope of IHO science into new realms of inquiry with investments in fresh initiatives and star faculty. It will enable greater participation of ASU graduate and undergraduate students in cutting-edge human origins research, ensuring early-career success and impact.

By expanding and revitalizing IHO’s “digital ecosystem,” Campaign ASU 2020 will translate new scientific knowledge into innovative inquiry-based learning tools for K-12 classrooms and create new pathways to enrich the public understanding of human origins science. And, it will secure the future of the IHO enterprise with investments in new faculty and in critical research infrastructure, both at home on the ASU campus and in far-flung field sites around the world.

Fuel Discovery, Creativity and Innovation

Fuel Discovery, Creativity and Innovation

Goal: $18,000,000

Pump-priming exploration in strategically important field locales and time periods will place IHO scientists at a strong advantage in the competition for long-term external research funding. For example, on the heels of an IHO team’s discovery of the oldest Homo fossil in Ethiopia, we will continue work at IHO’s “gold mine” sites of Hadar and Ledi-Geraru and expand the hunt for new fossil-bearing sites in the poorly understood two- to three-million-year time period, which is critical to understanding the fate of Australopithecus, the origin of Homo, and advent of stone-tool making.

Enlarging IHO’s geographical footprint will place our field scientists in strategically critical areas of the world. To that end, we will launch a fi eld project in the Altai mountains of central Asia (Mongolia) to hunt for tools and fossils of Pleistocene populations, known so far only from DNA traces in fragments of fossil bone (i.e., the Denisovans), representing initial waves of human migration from Africa across the Old World.

Constructing an IHO network of international research collaborations, encompassing field and lab projects in Africa, Eurasia, and Europe will maximize efficiency and impact of new discoveries. Building on the success of IHO field work at Pinnacle Point, South Africa, we will launch an innovative international network of thematically linked field projects, with coordinated goals, expertise, and resources, on the origins of early modern humans and their migration across the Old World in the late Pleistocene.

A new initiative on the origins of human cognitive complexity will unite the fields of neurobiology, paleoanthropology, and studies of contemporary human populations and nonhuman primate behavior to identify the evolutionary links between cognition and technology.

Integrating perspectives from modern human populations with empirical records from the past will solidify IHO’s transdisciplinary approach to human origins science. For example, expanding research on the coastal adaptations of contemporary human populations in the Philippines will permit testing hypotheses, based on finds from IHO’s project at Pinnacle Point, South Africa, that link the origin of modern human behavior and the early migrations across southern Asia to coastal resource exploitation.

As humankind’s closest living relative, the chimpanzee faces social and ecological pressures thought to be similar to those confronted by our remote ancestors. Field studies of wild chimpanzees are therefore essential for tracing the origins of our specialized social behavior, including our capacity for large-scale cooperation. A new partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute will conduct long-term research on the iconic chimpanzees of Gombe National Park, Tanzania. Drawing on Gombe’s unique 50- year record of behavioral observations plus new genetic and hormonal data, this research will address the evolutionary basis of friendship, group territory defense, and temperament, all of which have far-reaching implications for understanding the roots of cooperation in the human lineage.

IHO’s mission of discovery begins in the field. For three decades, our scientists have worked in some of the most inhospitable locales to unearth our origins, and this has taken its toll on IHO’s field infrastructure. For example, projects in Ethiopia and South Africa depend on vehicles, camping gear, and data-collection instruments which, approaching one to two decades in age, are rapidly becoming obsolete. Campaign ASU 2020 will address these critical infrastructure needs, many of which fall outside of allowable research grant-funded budgets.

Elevate the Academic Enterprise

Elevate the Academic Enterprise

Goal: $6,000,000

Critical exploration and research funds for new university-funded faculty will unlock the potential of IHO research initiatives, jumpstart stellar careers in human origins science, and promote IHO’s preeminence at the leading edge of discovery in human origins science. Two new IHO-affiliated faculty positions are needed: an archaeologist specializing in the cognitive basis of technological evolution, and a paleoanthropologist focused on Neanderthal and early modern human life-ways.

Postdoctoral positions provide the best advanced training for newly minted researchers and help cement the IHO brand of transdisciplinary human origins research in the professional community. We plan to fund five IHO Postdoctoral Scholars through the campaign.

Unrestricted support for operations. IHO thrives, in part, due to a steady flow of external revenue for operations, approximately $400,000 per year. This supports staff positions, summer salary for faculty, exploratory research, and work-study positions. Increasing unrestricted support will allow IHO to expand its programmatic efforts.

IHO’s need for integrated office, lab, and teaching space on ASU’s Tempe campus has been built into university capital projects planning. Equipping the lab facilities with the latest computing, visualization, and analytical instrumentation acknowledges that interpretation of the evidence is an equal partner to its discovery.

  • Laboratory naming opportunities in future IHO home in ISTB-7
  • Critical equipment needs, including 3-D scanning equipment and computers for high-resolution image-based research on fossils and artifacts

Ensure Student Access and Excellence

Ensure Student Access and Excellence

Goal: $3,000,000

There is no more direct way to increase understanding of human origins than to introduce young scholars to the inner workings of the research enterprise alongside the world-renowned IHO scientists. Not only will we inspire the next generation of top human origins scientists, but we will also help create a more scientifically literate public.

  • Research opportunities for undergraduate students, including transformational field experiences alongside IHO faculty at their work sites around the globe, provide unique exposures to front-line research and a firm grounding in global awareness.
  • Five-year recruitment scholarships (stipend+tuition+health insurance) for the top-ranked graduate students seeking to apprentice with IHO faculty at ASU. Graduate students are the life-blood of a thriving research enterprise; IHO must maintain a leading position in the annual competition for the best students.
  • Graduate student “pilot research” grants to enhance competitiveness in external research funding. A critical indicator of a successful Ph.D. program is time-to-degree. Graduate students are trained in grant-proposal writing in our program, but their competitiveness in funding—and their efficiency in degree completion—will be substantially improved if initial IHO funding for exploratory research can be showcased in external funding proposals.
  • Student funding designated to increase representation of women and under-represented groups in human origins science at ASU. Inclusiveness and broad representation in science is a priority at ASU, and IHO will meet this challenge by devoting funding to recruitment of women and minority students to our graduate program.

Enrich Our Communities

Enrich Our Communities

Goal: $500,000

Spanning multiple web portals, from an IHO mobile app to the “Webby” award-winning BecomingHuman.org, and the new AskAnAnthropologist.asu.edu learning resource, IHO’s digital ecosystem is designed to reach the broadest audience possible—repaying childhood wonder about our origins with the knowledge outcomes of IHO research and discovery.

IHO will launch a BecomingHuman YouTube channel, where professionally produced short videos will introduce the evidence for human evolution and illustrate how scientists use that evidence to draw conclusions about our past.

IHO is designing innovative, web-based games for our public websites, in which students will learn about human origins through strategic decision-making, playing the role, for example, of an early human searching for resources on ancient landscape or of a paleoanthropologist searching for fossils and artifacts in the East African Rift Valley.