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Rebecca Rogers Ackermann

Rebecca Ackermann is a Professor in the Department of Archaeology at UCT, Director of the Human Evolution Research Institute (, and a recipient of the UCT Distinguished Teacher Award.  She received a Masters degree in forensic anthropology (University of Arizona) and a PhD in biological anthropology (Washington University in St. Louis), and was a post-doctoral associate in anatomy (Wash U.) in the USA before taking up her post at UCT in 2000.

Rebecca Ackermann and her research group (housed in the Morphometrics Laboratory) are focussed on understanding how adaptive (selection) and non-adaptive (e.g drift, gene flow) evolutionary processes shape the phenotype in mammals, with an ultimate goal of providing a foundation for detecting these processes in the fossil record of primate and especially human evolution. This research focuses on the skeleton, but the lab also conducts research into other aspects of the phenotype (e.g. hair), in the context of genetic variation, in order to better extrapolate from variation in the fossil record to the broader biology of our ancestors.  Currently a series of projects fall under this broad umbrella. They include controlled laboratory experiments designed to examine the phenotypic/genetic effects of hybridization and the interaction of hybridization, drift and selection in mouse models; field studies of phenotypic and genetic variation in primates across hybrid zones (marmosets); and collection-based studies of mammals (baboons, macaques, coywolves, mice) and fossil hominins (australopiths, earlyHomoParanthropus, Neanderthals). Prof Ackermann is also engaged in issues around sexism and racism in palaeoanthropology, and transformation of the discipline more generally.