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Associate Professor in Biological Anthropology, Division of Clinical Anatomy and Biological Anthropology, University of Cape Town

Dr. Victoria Gibbon joined the Division of Clinical Anatomy and Biological Anthropology as a Senior Lecturer in Biological Anthropology in 2016. She earned her PhD in 2008 from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. Her dissertation was based on the development of novel molecular sex determination methods optimal for human forensic and archaeological skeletal remains. After the completion of her PhD she conducted research as a postdoctoral fellow, initially at the University of the Witwatersrand followed by a position at Purdue University. Before returning to South Africa in her new position at UCT, she held a permanent academic position at the University of New Brunswick in Biological and Forensic Anthropology.

Her research and teaching interests are primarily in biological anthropology, forensics, and bioarchaeology. She uses biological indicators from the skeleton to understand past human societies; their biology, migration patterns, health, culture and subsistence practices. Bioarchaeology is the study of human biological remains from archaeological contexts with an understanding of their past culture systems, thus, a biocultural approach should be used. This is Victoria’s current research focus; she initiated and maintains an international collaboration on bioarchaeological analyses of human samples from around the world. This research is focused on Iron and Bronze Age human skeletal remains from southern Africa (2000 BP, South Africa and Zambia), North Africa (3500-3000 BP, northern Sudan) and northern China (3000-1600 BP, near Beijing). She began this research while a post-doctoral fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand (2009), collecting data from southern Africa and China; subsequently at Purdue University (2010-2011), she collected the Nubian data from North Africa for this project. This research has two main aims one is to look at health and disease indicators from the skeleton and teeth; the other is based on morphological and metrical examination of human skeletal remains. For more information on these projects click here.

Dr. Gibbon’s diverse background and training in anatomical, genetic, medical and anthropological sciences allows her to conduct research on a variety of topics. Her addition to the Division of Clinical Anatomy and Biological Anthropology provides a multitude of research opportunities for students. At UCT she is applying anthropological concepts to a medico-legal context to expand her forensic research and has proposed several research studies in collaboration with the Masters program offered through Forensic Pathology Services at UCT. For more information on her forensic anthropology research click here.

In terms of her genetics background she is interested in Mseleni Joint Disease (MJD): a geographically isolated chondroplasia. This rare condition only affects people in an isolated region of South Africa and despite various avenues of research its cause remains unknown. This project is designed to better understand the genetics of this health condition in attempt to produce genetic targets for treatment and prevention. For more information on MJD click here. In collaboration with Laura Heathfield they co-supervise a student Chandra Thurgood examining DNA degradation in the False Bay in order to assess and standardise methods to genetically identify forensic victims found in the Bay. Additionally, she is exploring aDNA studies with other researchers in South Africa.

Selected Publications
Spies M, Finaughty D, Gibbon VE. Submitted. Forensic taphonomy: Scavenger-induced scattering patterns in the temperate southwestern Cape, South Africa. Forensic Science International

Gibbon VE, Buzon MR. Submitted. Biomechanical analyses of skeletal remains from Tombos in ancient Nubia. HOMO-Journal of Comparative Human Biology

Gibbon VE, Carlson K, Grimoud AM, Jashashvili, T. In Press. Use of high resolution computed tomography to diagnose ante-mortem dental root fractures in archaeological samples. International Journal of Paleopathology

Grimoud AM, Gibbon VE, Ribot I. 2017. Predictive factors for alveolar fenestration and dehiscence. HOMO-Journal of Comparative Human Biology 68(3): 167-175.

Grimoud AM, Gibbon VE. 2017. Dental wear quantity and direction in Chalcolithic and Medieval populations from Southwest France. HOMO-Journal of Comparative Human Biology 68: 1-9.

Gibbon VE, Porter TA, Wu X, Liu W. 2016. Craniometric examination of Longxian and Qi Li Cun archaeological sites to assess population continuity in ancient northern China. HOMO-Journal of Comparative Human Biology 67: 369-383.

Gibbon VE, Buzon M. 2016. Morphological variation of the appendicular skeleton in samples from Tombos in Upper Nubia. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 26: 324-336.

Milner BL, Penny CB, Gibbon VE, Kay P, Ruff P. 2014. CD133/EpCAM cancer stem cell markers of tumour stage in colorectal cancer cells. Tissue Science and Engineering 6(143): 1-4.

Gibbon VE, Grimoud AM. 2014. Dental pathology, trauma and attrition in a Zambian Iron Age Sample: A macroscopic and radiographic investigation. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 24: 439-458.

Gibbon VE, Gallagher A, Huffman TN. 2014. Bioarchaeological analysis of Iron Age human skeletons from Zambia. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 24: 100-110.

Xing, S, Gibbon V, Clarke R, Liu W. 2013. Geometric morphometric analyses of orbit shape in Asian, African and European human populations. Anthropological Science 121(1): 1-11.

Bidmos MA, Gibbon VE, Štrkalj G. 2010. Recent advances in sex identification of human skeletal remains in South Africa. The South African Journal of Science 106: 29-34.

Gibbon VE, Harington JS, Penny CB. 2010. Mseleni Joint Disease: a potential model of epigenetic chondroplasia. Joint Bone Spine 77: 399-404.

Gibbon VE, Štrkalj G, Paximadis M, Ruff P, Penny C. 2010. The sex profile of skeletal remains from a cemetery of Chinese indentured labourers in South Africa. South African Journal of Science 106(7/8): 65-68.

Gibbon VE, Penny CB, Ruff P, Štrkalj G. 2009. Minimally invasive bone extraction method for DNA analyses. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 139: 596-599.

Gibbon VE, Paximadis M, Štrkalj G, Ruff P, Penny CB. 2009. Novel methods of molecular sex identification from skeletal tissue using the amelogenin gene. Forensic Science International: Genetics 3: 74-79.

Gibbon VE, Štrkalj G, Harington J, Penny CB. 2008. A review of DNA analyses of archaeological and ancient tissues. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa 63(2): 145-149.


  • –present
    Senior Lecturer in Biological Anthropology, Division of Clinical Anatomy and Biological Anthropology, University of Cape Town

Grants and Contracts

  • 2019
    Senior Lecturer in Biological Anthropology, Division of Clinical Anatomy and Biological Anthropology
    Funding Source:
    National Research Foundation