Dean Falk is a biological anthropologist who specializes in paleoanthropology. She was a 2008–2009 resident scholar at SAR. She earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in anthropology from the University of Illinois, Chicago (1970, 1972), and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Michigan (1976). Her mentors were Charles A. Reed, Leonard Radinsky, and C. Loring Brace. Among other teaching positions, she taught anatomy and neuroanatomy at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine (1980–1986) and anthropology at the State University of New York in Albany (1988–2001). She is the Hale G. Smith Professor of Anthropology at Florida State University, where she chaired the Department of Anthropology from 2002–2008. She has been a Permanent Honorary Professor of Human Biology at the University of Vienna since 1997.
Dean has been elected as a fellow of the American Anthropological Association and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She served as an appointed member of the National Advisory Committee of the Decade of Behavior from 1999–2004 and as an invited member of the United States National Committee for the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (USNC/IUAES) from 2000–2002. In Africa, she has been an appointed member of the International Advisory Board of the Institute for Palaeoenvironment, Human Evolution, and Cultural Anthropology, Mekelle University, Ethiopia (2004). European appointments have included membership on the Iceman Board of Directors, Bozen/Bolzano, Italy (2004–2009), and on the Scientific Advisory Council, EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman, Bozen/Bolzano, Italy (2007–2009). In 2003, she received the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, 1st class.
Dean’s publications focus primarily on the evolution of the brain and cognition, and have appeared in both the scholarly and popular literature. She has been featured in various television and radio programs that have discussed various aspects of her research. Her books include Braindance Revised and Expanded (2004), Finding Our Tongues: Mothers, Infants & the Origins of Language (2009), and The Fossil Chronicles: How Two Controversial Discoveries Changed Our View of Human Evolution (2011), which resulted from her SAR residency. She has enjoyed a long-time collaboration with colleagues at Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Most recently, the team has described the virtual endocast of “Hobbit” (Homo floresiensis) and conducted related research on humans with various pathologies such as microcephaly. She described the cerebral cortex of Albert Einstein in an article that was selected as one of the top hundred science stories of 2009 by Discover Magazine—a complete list of publications may be found on her curriculum vitae (PDF, 510 KB). Current writing projects focus on the endocast of an australopithecine infant, the evolution of the neurological substrates of conscience, Charles Darwin’s views about human evolution, and the evolution of happiness. She has begun research for a new book about Asperger syndrome, which will be co-authored with her granddaughter.
For more information, visit Dean Falk’s website.