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Rick, Torben

Curator of North American Archaeology

Interactions of ancient people with coastal and terrestrial ecosystems.

Geographic Focus

Background And Education

Education And Training

Professional Biography

  • Torben Rick is Curator of Human Environmental Interactions and North American Archaeology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Rick’s research focuses on archaeology and historical ecology, particularly in coastal regions. He has active field projects on California’s Channel Islands and the Chesapeake Bay, which are collaborative with researchers from a variety of disciplines (anthropology, biology, ecology, etc.) and explore ancient and modern human environmental interactions. Much of Rick’s research emphasizes the zooarchaeology of marine and terrestrial organisms.

    Torben is a member of the Social Science Coordinating Committee for the United States Global Change Research Program and a member of the Society for American Archaeology’s Committee on Climate Change. He sits on the editorial board for American AntiquityJournal of EthnobiologyJournal of Island and Coastal Archaeology,AnthropoceneAdvances in Archaeological Practice, and California Archaeology. He was co-editor of the Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology from 2012-2017. 


Awards And Honors

Public Biography

  • Dr. Torben Rick is a research anthropologist and curator in the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Torben grew up in coastal southern California and had a love of the ocean and marine biology since childhood. While an undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Rick took a course on California Archaeology that sparked his interest in the power of archaeology to help understand the deep cultural connections between people and the ocean. He has been hooked ever since. He received his PhD at the University of Oregon in anthropology, where he was trained in archaeology and the value of interdisciplinary research. He regularly collaborates with biologists, ecologists, geologists, and researchers from a variety of disciplines to investigate human environmental interactions in the past and present. He is deeply committed to demonstrating the value of archaeology to helping understand contemporary issues facing society, especially environmental issues.

Research And Grants


Selected Publications

Collection Or Series Editor For

Editor Of

  • Book

    • Reeder-Myers, Leslie, Turck, John, and Rick, Torben, editors. 2019. Archaeology of Human-Environmental Dynamics on the North American Atlantic Coast. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. 2019
    • Rick, Torben C. and Erlandson, Jon, editors. 2008. Human Impacts on Ancient Marine Ecosystems. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2008


Teaching Activities

Professional Service Activities