Physical Anthropology at the University of Hawai'i

Working in the Physical Anthropology Lab

Physical anthropology examines the physical or biological aspects of what it means to be human. Two major areas of concern are how we have evolved and how we vary form each other and from our nearest living relatives, the non-human primates. This field encompasses several different scientific disciplines including evolutionary biology, genetics, primatology, paleoanthropology, human adaptability, human growth, medical anthropology, and human ecology. More applied fields include forensic anthropology, human osteology, and bioarchaeology. Although a biological science, physical anthropology is also a social science because human biology and other aspects of the discipline are studied in the context of human culture and behavior.

The Department's current areas of expertise allow training in the fields of human evolution, bioarchaeology, human adaptability, medical anthropology, human ecology, and forensic anthropology at the undergraduate (BA) and graduate (MA and PhD) levels. Physical Anthropology in Asia and the Pacific are particular strengths of our department. Coursework is offered in the theory of physical anthropology, human evolution, skeletal biology, forensic anthropology, human biology, and related areas within the Department. Courses that are relevant to physical anthropology are also given in other departments including anatomy, biology, cell and molecular biology, geography, physiology, and zoology.

Dr. Pietrusewsky
The physical anthropology laboratory (Dean 208) is for teaching physical anthropology courses within the Department and for research in skeletal biology. The Department's collection of fossil casts and human and primate study skeletons, used in teaching and research, are stored in the physical anthropology lab. The Department also stores, for research, an important collection of early bronze age archaeological human remains from Ban Chiang, northeast Thailand.

The physical anthropology section maintains important links to Cultural Resource Management firms, the State of Hawaii's Historic Preservation Division, and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), and the Medical Examiner's Office, City and County of Honolulu.

Courses in Physical Anthropology

Physical Anthropology and Lab (Anth 215, 215L)
Human Origins (Anth 310)
Race and Human Variation (Anth 375)
Skeletal Biology and Lab (Anth 384, 384L)
Human Biology of the Pacific (Anth 455)
Forensic Anthropology (Anth 458)
Asian Paleoanthropology (Anth 460)
Physical Anthropology (Anth 604)
Anthropology of Infectious Disease (Anth 606)
Research Seminar in Biological Anthropology (Anth 750)
Directed Reading/Research (Anth 399, 699)


Michael Pietrusewsky, PhD
-- physical and forensic anthropology, human origins, skeletal biology, craniology, multivariate statistical procedures, bioarchaeology; Polynesia, Pacific Islands, Southeast and East Asia, Australia. <mikep(at)>

Christopher J. Bae, PhD
Biological anthropology, paleoanthropology, vertebrate taphonomy, Out of Africa I, modern human origins; China, Korea, Japan <cjbae(at)>

Additional Graduate Faculty

Rebecca Cann, PhD (Cell and Molecular Biology)
-- physical anthropology, anthropological genetics, human populations. <rcnn(at)>

Daniel Brown, PhD (UH Hilo)
-- physical anthropology, medical anthropology; Polynesia. <dbrown(at)>

Sara Collins (PhD, Pacific Consulting Services, Inc.)
-- Archaeology, Human & Faunal Osteology, Historic Preservation Compliance & Practice; Hawai`i & the Pacific <>

Thomas Holland, PhD (POW/MIA Accounting Command-SPAC)
-- physical and forensic anthropology, skeletal biology; US Midwest, Southeast Asia. <Thomas.Holland(at)>

Michele T. Douglas (PhD)
Physical anth, skeletal biology, bioarchaeology, paleopathology;Oceania, Southeast Asia; <>

R. Alexander Bentley, PhD, (Durham University, UK)
--bioarchaeology; isotope analysis, farming, human mobility, Southeast Asia. <>

Recent and Current Graduate Students:

Michele T. Douglas <ToomayDoug(at)>
MA (1988) Thesis: Wryneck in the Sandwich Islands: An Investigation of Cranial Asymmetry.
PhD (1996) Paleopathology in the Human Skeletal Remains from the Pre-Metal, Bronze, and Iron Ages, Northeast Thailand.
Download Dissertation

Robert W. Mann <mannr(at)>
MA (1987) University of Tennessee
PhD (2001) Stafne's Defects of the Human Mandible
Download Dissertation

Rona M. Ikehara <rikehara(at)>
MA (1997)
PhD (2010) An Assessment of Health in Early Historic (200 B.C. to A.D. 200) Inhabitants of Vat Komnou, Angkor Borei, Southern Cambodia:  A Bioarchaeological Perspective

Christopher King <kingchri(at)>
MA (1997) Florida Atlantic University
PhD (2006) Paleodietary Change among Pre-State Metal Age Societies in Northeast Thailand: A Stable Isotope Approach
Download Dissertation

Thomas Sprague <Thomas.Sprague(at)DS.JPAC.PACOM.MIL>
MS (1968) Zoology, Michigan State University
MD (1975) Jefferson Medical College
MA (2002) University of Hawaii

Vincent J. Sava <Vince.Sava(at)JPAC.PACOM.MIL>
MA (1996)
--forensic anthropology and archaeology, human osteology, human biology, Mariana Islands, Pacific Islands.

Linked Sites

Physical Anthropology
Asian Archaeology and Physical Anthropology at UH

Anthropology Online
American Association of Physical Anthropologists

Fossil Hominds. The Evidence for Human Evolution
Human Evolution Overview
Human Origins Lecture Notes
Australian & Asian Paleoanthropology
Washington State University: Long Foreground Student Module
National Center for Science Education

General Anatomy
Gray's Anatomy Online
Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomy
Structure of the Human Body

Skull Module
The eSkeleton Project
Human Dentition
Bone Anatomy and Pathology
Paleopathology Page
Marianas Bioarchaeology

Forensic Anthropology
American Academy of Forensic Sciences
Forensic Science Associates
American Board of Forensic Anthropology
International Forensic Centre of Excellence for the Investigation of Genocide