Linda Marchant Receives Two National Awards

Linda F. Marchant and her award for outstanding research into human originsLinda F. Marchant, professor of anthropology at Miami University, earned the Award for Outstanding Research into Human Origins from the Center for Research into the Anthropological Foundations of Technology (CRAFT) and the Stone Age Institute. The award recognizes individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to human evolutionary studies.

Previous award recipients have included Mary Leakey, Jane Goodall, and J. Desmond Clark.

Marchant received the award Nov. 2 at the Stone Age Institute at Indiana University, where she gave the annual Leighton A. Wilkie Memorial Lecture. Entitled, “Chimpanzees, Hands and Tools: Models for Evolution of Technology in Humans.” the lecture draws on decades of Marchants research on chimpanzee laterality to speculate on the co-evolution of tools and handedness among humans.

Marchant received the award “for her scientific contributions to primatology, handedness studies, and human origins,” according to the inscription on a plaque she received commemorating the award.

Marchant was also honored two weeks earlier by the Midwest Primate Interest Group (MPIG), which presented her with its Distinguished Primatologist Award.

The award was made Oct. 20 at the organization’s annual meeting, where Marchant gave the keynote address entitled, “A feeling for the organism: with thanks to Barbara McClintock.”

“Almost anyone who has studied biological anthropology has read at least one of her works,” said Julie Rutherford, President of MPIG. Rutherford, herself a Miami alumna (class of 1996), is now an associate professor in the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Department of Women, Children, and Family Health Science.

Recalling her undergraduate days studying with Marchant, Rutherford said, “Linda taught me, as she has countless students and colleagues, that serious science can also be full of joy and laughter, that you don’t have to sell your soul to become a great scholar, that you introduce your students to your colleagues, and that no matter what, never ever let the bastards get you down.”

Another Miami alum, Rob O’Malley (class of 1999), now senior program assistant at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, also recalled his studies under Marchant.

“As a mentor she instilled in me a great passion for primatology that took me to Thailand, Costa Rica and eventually to Tanzania,” he said. “She remains a valuable collaborator and friend today, and a model for everything that academia can and should be.”

"It was especially nice to see Dr. Marchant's recognition for the body of work she has produced and the students she has mentored over the years," said anthropology major Nicole Schapker, Class of 2018, who attended the meeting.

“I felt incredibly proud to see Dr. Marchant accept her award,” said anthropology major Gage Huey, class of 2018. “We're so lucky to have such a wonderful professor to mentor us."

The Wilkie lecture is named for Leighton A. Wilkie (1900-1993), inventor of the metal-cutting band saw (contour band machine), and founder of the DoALL Company in Des Plaines, Illinois. Passionately interested in human origins and the evolution of human toolmaking, Wilkie sponsored research by Jane Goodall at Gombe, Tanzania, Mary and Louis Leakey at Olduvai Gorge, and Raymond Dart in South Africa.

The Midwest Primatological Interest Group was founded in 2004 to foster relationships among a large number of outstanding research institutions, biological anthropology and primatology programs located in the Midwestern US, although current membership includes scholars from around the world. The Distinguished Primatologist Award was inaugurated in 2008.

The Center for Research into the Anthropological Foundations of Technology (CRAFT) is a program of Indiana University. The Stone Age Institute is an independent, non-profit in research facility with strong ties to CRAFT and Indiana University

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