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Jessica Thompson

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Yale University

I am a paleoanthropologist/paleoarchaeologist who works primarily in Africa. I lead excavations in Malawi, and I work/have worked on other archaeological projects in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and South Africa. I am most interested in the origins of modern human behavior in Africa, although the project I currently lead in Malawi deals with issues and information mostly available in later time periods (human sociality, human mobility, ancient DNA, etc.). I also work in Ethiopia on the origins of the entry of human ancestors such as Australopithecus/ early Homo into the predatory/omnivorous niche. My primary approaches are archaeological field recovery and zooarchaeology - analysis of animal bones from archaeological sites. However, in doing these various projects I have acquired working knowledge of a wide range of analytical approaches used in the paleosciences (isotopes, ancient DNA, bioarchaeology, dating, lithic analysis, etc.).

I did my B.S. at the University of New Mexico (2000) and my M.Phil at the University of Cambridge (2002). I was a postdoc for six years at the University of Queensland in Australia (2009-2014), and then an Assistant Professor of Anthropology for four years at Emory University (2015-2018). I have been an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Yale for two years now, and I am very interested in public outreach and science dissemination.


  • –present
    Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Yale Divinity School


  • 2008 
    Arizona State University, PhD