Teachers

Dr. Kseniia Ashastina

Archaeology

Double MSc degree in Polar and Marine Research from the University of Hamburg, Germany, and the Saint-Petersburg State University, Russia, in 2013. Later on I began the PhD project “Tundra-Steppe: Interactions between vegetation, climate and large herbivores in West Beringia during the late Pleistocene” at the Senckenberg Research Station of Quaternary Palaeontology in Weimar, Germany. In 2018 defended PhD at the Friedrich-Schiller University, Jena, Germany, with dissertation “Palaeo-environments at the Batagay site in inland West Beringia during the late Quaternary”.

Dr. Noel Amano

Archaeology

Noel is a postdoctoral researcher in the department of Archaeology. His research is on the zooarchaeology of South and Southeast Asia, focusing on themes of human-animal interactions, human subsistence economy, paleoenvironmental reconstruction and taphonomy.

Sandra Auderset

Linguistic and Cultural Evolution

Sandra is a PhD researcher at the MPI EVA in the department of linguistic and cultural evolution. Her research focuses on the history of Mixtecan languages, an indigenous language family of Mexico, by combining traditional historical linguistics with Bayesian phylogenetics. She is also part of a language documentation project on a Mixtec variety spoken in Oaxaca. More broadly, she is interested in quantitative and statistical methods to assess hypotheses and claims in linguistics.

Rodrigo Barquera

Archaeogenetics

Immunogenetics of ancient populations, Human adaptation, and Population genetics of Prehispanic human groups

Traci Billings

Archaeology

Traci is a third year PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH). She is an anthropologically trained archaeologist who uses paleoethnobotany and biomolecular methods to understand the relationship between past humans, plants, and the environment. Her current research focuses on the role human/plant relationships played in shaping human subsistence choices, cultural practices, and exchange in ancient Central Asia. She participates in the Archaeobotany and Biochemistry working groups at MPI-SHH and is a member of the FEDD project.

Maxime Borry

Microbiome Sciences Research Group, Archaeogenetics

Maxime is a Doctoral researcher at the MPI-SHH in the department of Archaeogenetics His research focuses on the development of bioinformatic tools and the analysis of ancient DNa metagenomics data

Zandra Fagernaes

Archaeogenetics

Zandra is a PhD student in the Microbiome group in the department of Archaeogenetics. She mainly works with archaeological dental calculus, developing methods for how to better study this amazing source of ancient biomolecules.

James A. Fellows Yates

Archaeogenetics

I am a biomolecular archaeologist and bioinformatician carrying out my Ph.D. on ancient oral microbiomes in the Department of Archaeogenetics at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

Nataliia Hübler

Linguistic and Cultural Evolution

Nataliia obtained her MA degree in language typology and phonetics at the University of Kiel. She started as a Grambank coder at the MPI and is currently doing her PhD in the DLCE. She enjoys reading grammars and investigating evolutionary dynamics of language structures.

Dr. Yoolim Kim

The Minds & Traditions Research Group, Linguistic and Cultural Evolution

Yoolim is a postdoctoral researcher within the Minds and Traditions Research Group. Her research focuses on better understanding the visual properties that make characters belonging to the same writing system distinct from one another. She combines classic psycholinguistic paradigms with computational modelling. Her PhD examined the cross-script effects of Chinese characters on semantic processing in Korean Hangul. She believes that Hangul is the best writing system and thus enjoys any and all projects involving Hangul.

Megan Michel

Archaeogenetics

Megan is a doctoral researcher in the Archaeogenetics Department at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Her research focuses on using computational genomic analyses to understand how pathogens have co-evolved with their hosts over the course of human history.

Eleftheria Orfanou

Archaeogenetics

Eleftheria is currently a PhD Student at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in the Department of Archaeology and in the Department of Archaeogenetics. Her research uses multiple lines of evidence, namely ancient DNA analysis, stable isotope analysis, osteoarchaeology, and material culture analysis, to fully explore the genomic signatures, biological kinship, and patterns of individual diet and mobility of the individuals of a Late Bronze Age site in Central Germany. The overarching aim of her research is to reconstruct the life histories and bioarchaeological profiles of these individuals and to shed light on the social structure of this Late Bronze Age community.

Christoph Rzymski

Linguistic and Cultural Evolution

Christoph is a scientific programmer at the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution. He finds joy in open data and open access. His main research interest is reproducibility in linguistics and data science.

Prof. Dr. Martine Robbeets

Archaeolinguistic Research Group, Archaeology

Martine Robbeets is a research group leader of the Archaeolinguistic Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena and a Honorary Professor at the Department of General and Comparative linguistics at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz (Germany). She holds a PhD in Comparative Linguistics from the University of Leiden (the Netherlands) and a Habilitation (“professorial degree”) in Linguistic Typology from the University of Mainz (Germany). She recently finalized an interdisciplinary project on the dispersal of the Transeurasian languages, funded by an ERC Consolidator’s Grant. She wrote several monographs and edited various volumes, among which “The Oxford Guide to Transeurasian Languages”.

Olena Shcherbakova

Linguistic and Cultural Evolution

Olena's work centers on uncovering the causal links behind typological patterns and testing hypotheses connecting language and social structures on a cross-linguistic scale.

Dr. Hedvig Skirgård

Linguistic and Cultural Evolution

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. My background is in quantitive methods in linguistic typology and I am currently coordinating the Grambank project - a large-scale database of structural features (currently with over 2,000 languages). I am particularly interested in applying evolutionary concepts to old questions within linguistics, such as the reconstruction of porto-languages, speed of language change and diversification processes.

Li Tang

Archaeology

Li is a third year PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. Her research focuses on the origin and development of paleoeconomy on the Tibetan Plateau. In her PhD project, she is studying macrobotanical remains and using both proteomics and isotope to better understand paleodiet in highland Tibet.

Dr. Natalie Uomini

Linguistic and Cultural Evolution

I am trained in cognitive science, linguistics, archaeology, and anthropology. I research cognitive evolution with a focus on the origins of language, teaching, and tool-making skills in the animal kingdom. I integrate approaches from biology, anthropology, neuroscience, psychology, and archaeology to explore the cognitive bases of tool-making ability in humans, birds, and sea otters. I use behavioural observation, field experiments, and laboratory experiments. I work with humans and wild animals both young and adult. I enjoy collaborating with a wide range of disciplines that intersect with my topics.

Dr. Irina Velsko

Archaeogenetics

Irina is a postdoc in the Microbiome group of the department of Archaeogenetics. She did her PhD work on oral microbiology and immunology of the living, and now works on oral microbiomes of the dead. Her work focuses on the evolution and ecology of dental plaque biofilms, both modern and ancient, and the complex interplay between microbiomes and their hosts.

Round Table Panelists

Dr. Katerina Douka

Principal Investigator of the FINDER Research Group, Archaeology

My work traverses the interface of archaeological enquiry and analytical science and revolves around the spatio-temporal pattern of human dispersals and extinctions across Eurasia, whether these concern Neanderthals, Denisovans or modern humans. I am greatly interested in developments in radiometric dating and chronological precision (14C and Bayesian statistics) and the broader use of peptide mass fingerprinting (Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry) in human evolution and as a zooarchaeological tool.

Dr. Wolfgang Haak

Leader of the Molecular Anthropology Group, Archaeogenetics

My group works at the interface of human genetics, medical sciences, archaeology, anthropology, and linguistics. Our main aim is to investigate and evaluate ancient human genome-wide data in the light of data from neighbouring disciplines to generate a detailed and comprehensive portrait of human prehistory over the last 20,000 years. Our portfolio ranges from global outlooks on population affinities, migrations and past demography to intra-group relationships, and also encompasses the interaction with and response to changing environmental factors, such as climate, diet and disease.

Dr. Mary Walworth

Leader of the Comparative Oceanic Linguistics (CoOL) Group, Linguistic and Cultural Evolution

My research focuses on the evolution and interaction of Oceanic languages, specifically in Polynesia and Vanuatu. Through language documentation and comparison of many understudied languages in these areas, I work to uncover not only historical linguistic relationships but also historical relationships between the speakers of these languages (contact networks, spheres of exchange and interaction, and population movement). I currently co-lead the Comparative Oceanic Linguistics project.

Invited speakers

Prof. Dr. Balthasar Bickel

Department of Comparative Language Science, University of Zurich

Balthasar Bickel holds the chair of general linguistics at the Department of Comparative Language Science, University of Zurich. He got his graduate training in the Cognitive Anthropology group at the MPI in Nijmegen and received his PhD in 1997 from the University of Zurich. After postdocs in Mainz and Berkeley and an assistant professorship in Zurich, he became a professor of linguistic typology at the University of Leipzig in 2002, and then moved to Zurich in 2011. In 2020 he became director of Switzerland's National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) “Evolving Language”.

Dr. Eva Rosenstock

Einstein Center Chronoi and Freie Universität Berlin

Eva Rosenstock studied Pre- and Protohistory, Physical Anthropology and Comparative Linguistics in Tübingen and Durham/UK. She received her doctorate in Prehistoric Archaeology from Tübingen University in 2005 with a dissertation on Neolithic tell settlements in Southwestern Asia and Southeastern Europe, for which she was awarded the travel grant of the German Archaeological Institute 2006/2007. From 2006 to 2018, Eva was a research associate and lecturer at Freie Universität Berlin. Since 2018, Eva has been a research associate at the interdiscplinary Einstein Center Chronoi Berlin and has been teaching at Freiburg University. Her projects include excavations at the 6th millennium BCE settlement of Çatalhöyük West in Central Anatolia (2006–2013, funded i.a. by the Alexander-von-Humboldt-Stiftung), the Emmy Noether Junior Research Group "LiVES" investigating human stature in prehistory (2011–2019, funded by the German Research Foundation), aspects of cattle traction in prehistory and the archaeology of dairying, as well as questions of time reckoning and time management during neolithization.

Prof. Dr. Christina Warinner

Research Group Leader at MPI for the Science of Human History

Dr. Christina Warinner earned her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2010, and received her postdoctoral training at the University of Zurich (2010-2012) and the University of Oklahoma (2012-2014). She is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University and a Professor of Biological Sciences at the Friedrich Schiller University, and since 2016 she holds a Group Leader position at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany. Dr. Warinner is pioneering the study of ancient human microbiota, and in 2014 she published the first detailed metagenomic and metaproteomic characterization of the ancient human oral microbiome. Her research has earned her Honorable Mention for the Omenn Prize, an annual prize for best article published on evolution, medicine and public health, and her ancient microbiome findings were named among the top 100 scientific discoveries of 2014 by Discover Magazine. She is a US National Academy of Sciences Kavli Fellow (2014) and a TED Fellow (2012). Her TED Talks on ancient dental calculus and the evolution of the human diet have been viewed more than 2 million times. In addition to her research, she is actively engaged in public outreach and created the Adventures in Archaeological Science coloring book, now available in thirty languages, including many indigenous and underrepresented languages.

Organizing Committee

Rasmus G Bjørn

Archaeolinguistic Research Group, Archaeology

I use comparative linguistics to analyze the spread of ideas and material culture in prehistory by examining loanwords with reference to auxiliary data such as archaeology and genetics. My PhD project ‘Crops, Fruits, and Words’ researches this phenomenon in Central Asia, departing from Robert Spengler’s work on assembling the archaeobotanical data for the region. I particularly look at the interfaces between the various language groups, e.g. Iranian, Turkic, Burushaski, and Tocharian.

Selina Carlhoff

Archaeogenetics

Coming from a marine biology background, even after 2 years I'm still excited to combine my interests in evolutionary biology and history for my PhD in archaeogenetics. My projects at the MPI-SHH investigate transitional periods in the history of Southeast Asia and how these affected the genetic structure of the people living there.

Jacopo Niccolò Cerasoni

Pan-Ev Lab, Archaeology

Jacopo Niccolò Cerasoni is a Doctoral Researcher in the Pan-Ev Research Group. His research interests focus upon the study of Pleistocene hominin technological behaviour, human-environment relationships and field survey and excavation techniques.

Blanca Vidal Orga

DogStudies Lab, Linguistic and Cultural Evolution

Blanca Vidal Orga is a Doctoral Researcher in the DogStudies Lab at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany. She is a psychologist with an additional interdisciplinary background in Neuroscience, Philosophy, and Evolutionary Science. Working in animal cognition - particularly dogs and non-human great apes -using behavioral observation and a comparative approach, her research interests include communication, domestication, and a topic focus in interspecies cooperative behavior.

Carli Peters

Archaeology

Carli is a PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. Her research aims to gain a better understanding of the spatio-temporal distribution of extinct megafaunal species in Australia by improving identification rates of fossil fauna at Late Pleistocene Australian sites using ZooMS (Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry).

Annika Tjuka

Linguistic and Cultural Evolution

My area of expertise is semantics, specifically semantic typology. I’m fascinated by the mental lexicon and the cognitive basis of semantic networks. My research is looking at language from a cross-linguistic perspective. So far, I conducted the first systematic study of body part terms for objects and landscape features in my Master’s thesis. And I’m currently a PhD at the MPI for the Science of Human History.

Ayaka Tsuchiya

The Minds & Traditions Research Group, Linguistic and Cultural Evolution

Ayaka Tsuchiya is a Doctoral Researcher in cognitive neuroscience. She is interested in neural bases of auditory information (voice, speech, music) process in the human brain. Her PhD project focuses on kinship recognition in human voice and its relationship with cultural backgrounds.

Mei-Shin Wu

Computer-Assisted Language Comparison Research Group, Linguistic and Cultural Evolution

Mei-Shin Wu is a Doctoral Researcher in the independent research group "Computer-Assisted Language Comparison" at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. She is a data analyst, specifically analysing historical linguistics data and genetic data