Humans have a hard time with wrapping their heads around events from long ago. When it becomes increasingly difficult to comprehend time beyond a human lifespan or two, how can we gain an understanding of the past of our human species? As a paleoanthropologist of food and diet, Dr. Briana Pobiner has a rich insights into how early human civilization was created, in part, through the stomach. While fads like the “paleo diet” abound, there is also much interest in what food is “naturally” meant to be consumed by humans. But when public intellectuals make appeals to human behavior that is “ancestral” or “natural,” what are they really talking about? How has food and eating built our society?
Briana Pobiner, Ph.D. is a paleoanthropologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History whose studies the evolution of human diets (with a focus on meat-eating), including topics as diverse as human cannibalism and chimpanzee carnivory. She has conducted research in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Indonesia, Romania, and the US. Since joining the Smithsonian in 2005 to help put together the Hall of Human Origins, in addition to continuing her active field, laboratory, and experimental research programs, she leads the Human Origins Program’s education and outreach efforts which includes managing the Human Origins Program’s public programs, website content, social media, and exhibition volunteer training. Briana has also more recently developed a research program in evolution education and science communication.
Next week, February 2nd, at 2 pm Eastern, we will speaking with Professor Emily Oster of Brown University, who has become one of the world’s record on risk and reward, especially with regard to issues around parenting – such as reopening schools during the pandemic.