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Pobiner, Briana

Research Scientist and Museum Educator

Briana Pobiner is a paleoanthropologist whose zooarchaeological and taphonomic research centers on meat-eating in the evolution of Stone Age human diets, using bone surface modifications such as human butchery marks and predator tooth marks on modern and fossil bones. She has conducted fieldwork, experimental studies, and collections-based research in Indonesia, Kenya, Romania, South Africa, Tanzania, and the United States. She joined the Smithsonian in 2005 as a research fellow to help put together the Hall of Human Origins, and now leads the Human Origins Program’s education and outreach efforts while continuing her scientific research.

Geographic Focus

Background And Education

Education And Training

Awards And Honors

Public Biography

  • Briana Pobiner is a paleoanthropologist whose research centers on the evolution of human diet (with a focus on meat-eating), but has included topics as diverse as human cannibalism and chimpanzee 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 which includes managing the Human Origins Program's public programs, website content, social media, and exhibition volunteer training. Briana has also more recently developed a research program in evolution education and science communication.



Selected Publications