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Rebecca Ackermann

Professor, Department of Archaeology and Human Evolution Research Institute, University of Cape Town

Rebecca Rogers Ackermann is a professor in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and co-director of UCT's Human Evolution Research Institute, which engages in African-led cutting-edge human origins research in the palaeosciences. She was also deputy dean for transformation in the Faculty of Science from 2019-2021.

She is one of the foremost biological anthropologists fundamentally reshaping our understanding of how we have evolved to be the diverse humans we are today. Her research combines cutting-edge 3D morphometrics with genetic data to interrogate how evolution works, and specifically how adaptive (selection) and non-adaptive (e.g. drift, gene flow) evolutionary processes shape the phenotype in mammals past and present, including our human ancestors. She recently featured in a special programme based on this topic, the World Science Festival’s “Brave New Prehistoric World” ( Ackermann has also been at the forefront of knowledge-production around scientific racism in biological anthropology and the decolonization of human evolution narratives.

She has authored over 70 manuscripts and published in the world's top scientific journals including Science, PNAS, and Nature Ecology and Evolution. Continuously funded by the National Research Foundation since 2000, she has also trained numerous post-graduate students, most of whom are women, especially women of colour, who now hold independent academic and research positions nationally and internationally. Ackermann was named a Mail & Guardian Woman Changing South Africa in 2019, and an Inspiring Fifty South Africa winner in 2021.


  • –present
    Professor, University of Cape Town


  • 1998 
    Washington University in St Louis, PhD Biological anthropology

Grants and Contracts

  • 2019
    Professor, Department of Archaeology and Human Evolution Research Institute
    Funding Source:
    National Research Foundation