Briana Pobiner, the Science Outreach & Education Program Specialist for the Smithsonian’s Human Origins Program, has a BA in Evolutionary Studies from Bryn Mawr College, where she created her own major, and an MA and PhD in Anthropology from Rutgers University. Her research centers on the evolution of human diet (with a focus on meat-eating), but has included topics as diverse as cannibalism in the Cook Islands and chimpanzee carnivory. She has done fieldwork in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, and Indonesia and has been supported in her research by the Fulbright-Hays program, the Leakey Foundation, the National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, Rutgers University, the Society for American Archaeology, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Her favorite field moments include falling asleep in a tent in the Serengeti in Tanzania while listening to the distant whoops of hyenas, watching a pride of lions eat a zebra carcass on the Kenyan equator, and discovering fossil bones that were last touched, butchered and eaten by one of her 1.5 million year old ancestors. She came to the Smithsonian in 2005 to help work on the upcoming Hall of Human Origins, got bitten by the “public understanding of science” bug and hasn’t looked back, continuing to do her research while leading the Human Origins Program’s education and outreach efforts. She currently manages the Human Origins Program’s public programs, website content, social media, and volunteer content training.
Kris “Fire” Kovarovic, PhD, is Lecturer in Human Evolution at Durham University, UK. Originally from Connecticut, Kris moved to Montréal, Canada where she attended McGill University to complete a BA in Anthropology and Religious Studies, followed by an MSc in Archaeology and a PhD in Anthropology from University College London, UK (UCL). Kris subsequently spent time as a postdoctoral researcher in the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History and then returned to UCL to take up a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship prior to moving to Durham. Her broad research interests include palaeoenvironmental reconstruction and faunal analysis, particularly at Plio-Pleistocene hominin sites in East Africa. Her current research programme continues to explore the ways in which mammalian communities are shaped by their environments and how this can inform our understanding of the past distribution of mammals and habitats, as well as investigating the differences in habitat signals provided by fossil bovid dentition and skeletal remains. She is most excited and inspired by her role as co-director of BONES with good friend and co-conspirator, Briana Pobiner.