Biological anthropology is uniquely situated between the biological and social sciences; it provides an evolutionary perspective on the adaptations that make us human. We investigate how and when these traits arose, and what they tell us about our relationship to nonhuman primates and each other. The field addresses evolutionary, anatomical, genetic, and biological questions about humans today and in the past.
Questions Investigated by a Biological Anthropologist
How did humans survive in extreme environments?
What is the relationship between human biology and culture?
How old are these skulls and where did they come from?
When do humans first appear in the fossil record?
What is the relationship between humans, monkeys, and apes?
What role does a long childhood play in our complex society?
What makes humans unique?
When did our ancestors first develop lithic technology, communication skills, and express symbolic thought?
The graduate in biological anthropology has the technological skills and disciplinary insights to pursue careers in health and medicine, criminal investigation, sports medicine, education, zoology, genetics, conservation biology, and museum curation. Understanding modern human variation from an anthropological perspective prepares our graduates to contribute a culturally-informed approach to biological professions.
Check out our suggestions for paths to success and careers in biological anthropology.
Human Biology and Health
Human Origins and Variation
Primate Behavior and Adaptations
Undergraduate Spotlight: Kaia Ranouf
Biological anthropology students at CSU are encouraged to engage in research. Faculty-supervised student research projects and independent studies may concern lab management (museum curation, material processing, specimen preparation), lab research (research design, methods, assessment, publication), and training in new technologies (3D imaging, statistical analysis, computer programs).
The biological anthropology program at CSU provides students with opportunities to learn through experience and mentorship. As a result, our graduates have followed paths to successful careers in non-academic and academic fields.
“The Capstone Symposium was definitely a very valuable experience for me, through the whole process of collecting and analyzing research to creating this argument, to presenting in front of other knowledgeable anthropologists in the field. Dr. Connie Fellmann also directed me towards a Forensic Anthropology Field School during the summer of 2016 in Massachusetts, and it was very cool to go through a "pseudo" crime scene and seeing what my dream job would really be like. We got to do a complete excavation, evidence collection and chain of custody, laboratory analysis of remains and evidence, as well as creating a full report that would be turned into the county if it were a real death. It was such a wonderful opportunity to get to experience all of that!”
BA’17 – Melissa Melone, Inmate Services Technician, Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office
At CSU, I completed an M.A. thesis about Late Pleistocene cranial evolution, which resulted in a peer-reviewed publication. I also participated in paleoanthropological fieldwork in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan under the supervision of Dr. Mica Glantz, and I was also able to enjoy one season of fieldwork in the Republic of Georgia, where I worked at Dmanisi. In addition to experience with fieldwork, I was also exposed to rigorous methodological training while I was at CSU. I also gained a further understanding of anthropology at large, and benefited greatly from the broad and varied interests of the faculty.” –
Terrance Ritzman, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, Washington University
“The best advice I can pass on is to be active in your educational pursuits. One can attend class and write one’s thesis, be it honors or masters, and receive a good education. The most valuable and meaningful education though, comes from taking the initiative and getting involved beyond what is required. Some of the most important educational experiences, the ones that truly challenged and stretched my abilities and understanding of anthropology, were those I sought myself. They included such things as flying to Romania to work in a museum measuring ancient Gepid skeletons to getting involved on a publication with my advisor.”
– Joshua Clementz, Junior and High School Teacher, The Academy