Committee and Staff Biographies
Robert M. Hamilton retired as Deputy Executive Director of NRC’s Division on Earth and Life Studies in 2004. He had previously served as Executive Director of NRC’s Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources, following 30 years as a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey. He chaired the Committee on Disaster Reduction for the International Council for Science (ICSU), and chaired the Scientific and Technical Committee of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR), a U.N. program for the 1990s. He also served for 2 years with the IDNDR Secretariat in Geneva, including a year as director. He has been a member of the Inter-agency Task Force for the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, a follow-on U.N. program to the IDNDR. He also chaired the Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction of the National Science and Technology Council. Dr. Hamilton served as president of the Seismological Society of America, and president and secretary of the Seismology Section of the American Geophysical Union. He is a fellow of the Geological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr Hamilton has a geophysical engineering degree from Colorado School of Mines, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in geophysics from the University of California at Berkeley.
Berhane Asfaw (NAS) is a palaeoanthropologist who manages the Rift Valley Research Service. Dr. Asfaw has completed extensive survey work on the eastern and western sides of the Awash River in Ethiopia. He was instrumental in explorations that discovered fossils thought to be some of the earliest hominids (called Ardithecus ramidus, dated at about 4 million-plus years). Those same expeditions also led to the discovery of Australopithecus garhi, a 2.5-million-year-old hominid found in association with old bones with cut marks. Dr. Asfaw has held posi-
tions within the Ethiopian government, including director of National Museums and coordinator of the Paleoanthropology Laboratory of the National Museum of Ethiopia. He has a bachelor’s degree in geology from Addis Ababa University and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.
Gail M. Ashley is professor of geological sciences and director of the Quaternary Studies Graduate Program at Rutgers University, New Jersey. Her research interests include a comparison of terrestrial records of paleoclimate during the Quaternary in polar, temperate, and tropical regions, and reconstruction of the paleoenvironment of early hominids. She is currently president of the American Geological Institute and has served as president of the Geological Society of America, vice president of the International Association of Sedimentologists, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Sedimentary Research, and president of the Society for Sedimentary Geology. Dr. Ashley received B.S. and M.S. degrees in geology from the University of Massachusetts and a Ph.D. in geology from the University of British Columbia.
Thure E. Cerling (NAS) is Distinguished Professor of Geology and Geophysics and Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Utah. His research focuses on near-surface processes and the geological record of ecological change, particularly using geochemical proxies to understand the physiology and paleodiets of mammals, using soils as indicators of climatological and ecological change over geological timescales, and landscape evolution over the past several million years. Dr. Cerling has served on several NRC committees, including the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources (BESR), the U.S. Geodynamics Committee, and the U.S. National Committee for the International Union for Quaternary Research. He is a member of the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board. Dr. Cerling is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Geological Society of America. He received B.A. and M.S. degrees in geology from Iowa State University and his Ph.D. in geology from the University of California at Berkeley.
Andrew S. Cohen is a professor of geosciences and a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona. Dr. Cohen’s research focuses on the depositional environments, paleoecology, and climate history of the African rift lakes and the arid climate lakes of the western United States. He has a major project investigating the history of human impacts from watershed deforestation around Lake Tanganyika on the lake’s benthic ecosystem. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of California. Dr. Cohen is a member of the Board of Directors of DOSECC (Drilling, Observation and Sampling of the Earth’s Continental Crust) the U.S. consortium for support of continental scientific drilling, and is also on the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program.
Peter B. deMenocal is a professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. He uses proxies in marine sediments, primarily stable isotope and trace metal geochemistry, to reconstruct past changes in ocean circulation and terrestrial climate. Recent research projects include Holocene climate and ocean circulation variability, tropical to extratropical paleoclimate linkages, Pliocene-Pleistocene evolution of tropical climates, and human evolution and past African climates. Dr. deMenocal is recognized as one of the leaders of the scientific effort to understand Earth parameters during the time that hominins evolved. He has a B.S. in geology from St. Lawrence University, an M.S. in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography, and a Ph.D. in geology from Columbia University.
Andrew P. Hill is the J. Clayton Stephenson Professor of Anthropology at Yale University, and Curator of Anthropology in the Peabody Museum. Before coming to Yale in 1985, he held research positions at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi, and at Harvard. He is interested in the whole range of human evolution, particularly in the environmental and ecological context in which it occurred. Since 1968 he has carried out field work in eastern Africa, in Pakistan, and in the United Arab Emirates. For many years he has directed the Baringo Paleontological Research Project, a multidisciplinary research program operating in the Tugen Hills, Kenya. He teaches courses on different aspects of human evolution, faunal analysis, and taphonomy. Dr. Hill has a B.Sc. (Honouurs) from Reading University and a Ph.D. from the University of London.
Thomas C. Johnson is a Regents Professor of Geological Sciences at the Large Lakes Observatory and the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. His research interests include paleoclimatology based on the analysis of lake sediment cores and sedimentological processes in large lakes, focusing mainly on those in the East African Rift Valley. Dr. Johnson was the founding director of the Large Lakes Observatory, and served as a member of the Great Lakes Research Managers Council of the International Joint Commission. He was the cofounder and served on the Steering Committee of the International Decade for East African Lakes (IDEAL) from 1995 to 2005. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Drilling, Observation and Sampling of Earth’s Continental Crust (DOSECC). He has a B.S. in oceanography from the University of Washington and a Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of California at San Diego.
John E. Kutzbach (NAS) is professor emeritus of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, and environmental sciences in the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Prior to retirement, he was associate director, senior scientist, and professor at the Center for Climatic Research. His research focuses on understanding the processes that control cli
mate variablity, looking at decade/century-scale climate variability over recent millennia as well as linkages between vegetation changes and climate changes. Dr. Kutzbach is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society. Some of his awards include the Revelle Medal of the American Geophysical Union and the Milankovitch Medal of the European Geophysical Society. He has B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Richard Potts is a paleoanthropologist and director of the Human Origins Program and curator of anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. His research focuses on the history of the interrelationships between human evolution and the ecosystem. Over the past decade, Dr. Potts has led excavations at early human sites in the East African rift valley, and currently directs a multidisciplinary research team at the handaxe site of Olorgesailie, Kenya. In addition to research articles and books, he has recently completed a book for a general audience titled Humanity’s Descent: The Consequences of Ecological Instability. In addition, Dr. Potts was awarded a Certificate of Honor by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for the Emmy-winning Tales of the Human Dawn on PBS. He has a B.A. in anthropology from Temple University and a Ph.D. in biological anthropology from Harvard University.
Kaye E. Reed is associate director and associate professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University. Dr. Reed’s main research focus is the ecological context of primate and hominin evolution, based on using the identification and analysis of mammalian faunas from Plio-Pleistocene hominin localities. Her current field research focuses on early hominin sites (Australopithecus afarensis and early Homo) in the Afar Region of Ethiopia and Neanderthal and modern human cave localities in Spain and Morocco. She earned her Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Dr. Reed resigned from the committee in May 2009 to accept a secondment position at the National Science Foundation.
Alan R. Rogers is a professor of anthropology and adjunct professor of biology at the University of Utah. Dr. Rogers’ research focuses on using genetic data to understand the history of human population size, based on developing new statistical methods to detect population size changes using sequence data. This largely focuses on understanding the huge population increase of early humans in the late Pleistocene. Additionally, his research interests include the adaptive evolution of such traits as menopause and human time preference. In 1991, the University of Utah recognized Dr. Rogers’ work with their Superior Research Award. He was a former associate editor of Molecular Biology and Evolution. He received a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in anthropology from the University of New Mexico.
Alan C. Walker (NAS) is the Evan Pugh Professor of Anthropology and Biology at The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Walker endeavors to extract ancient behaviors from the fossil and taphonomic record. Teeth record information about an individual’s life history and semicircular canals are tuned to a species’ rapidity of locomotion. Dr. Walker is now developing nondestructive methods for examining tooth enamel and measuring fossil labyrinths so that rare hominoid and hominid specimens can be used. He is a research associate of the National Museum of Kenya and has had many collaborative field programs with the museum, the latest being at Allia Bay, east Lake Turkana. He has a B.A. (Honours) in geology from Cambridge University and a Ph.D. in anatomy and paleontology from the University of London. He also has an honorary D.Sc. from the University of Chicago. Dr. Walker is a Fellow of the Royal Society.
National Research Council Staff
David A. Feary is a Senior Program Officer with the NRC’s Board on Earth Sciences and Resources and staff director of BESR’s Committee on Seismology and Geodynamics. Prior to joining the NRC, he spent 15 years as a research scientist with the marine program at the Australian Geological Survey Organisation (now Geoscience Australia). During this time, he participated in numerous national and international research cruises to better understand the role of climate as a primary control on carbonate reef formation and to improve understanding of cool-water carbonate depositional processes and controls. He is a member of the Science Planning Committee of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program. Dr. Feary received B.Sc. and M.Sc. (Honours) degrees from the University of Auckland and his Ph.D. from the Australian National University.