The American Association of Biological Anthropologists recognizes that the professional development of talented scientists in the early stages of their careers is critical to the continued health and vitality of the discipline. To that end, the AABA offers Cobb Professional Development Grants annually to qualified recipients, each in the amount of $7,500. 

W. Montague Cobb

W. Montague Cobb, MD, PhD (1904-1990) scientist and social activist was the 15th President of the AAPA in 1958 and 1959 and twice served as AAPA Vice President (1948-1950 and 1954-1956). A distinguished anatomist, mentor and citizen, Cobb was also President of the NAACP (1976-82) as well as Vice President of AAAS Section H.  Cobb earned his MD from Howard in 1929.  He was the first African-American to earn a PhD in Physical Anthropology, doing so in 1932 at Case Western Reserve as a student of T. Wingate Todd.  There were no other African-American doctorates in Physical Anthropology until after the Korean War. Cobb returned to train students at Howard University where he also served as Chair of Anatomy.  Cobb’s research was in human anatomy and function, especially craniofacial growth including hafting and the maxillary tuber, as well as the application of his science to questions of social justice and racial equality (e.g., Cobb 1933, 1936, 1940, 1942, 1943).  He published over 1,100 papers, from peer-reviewed journals to popular press and public education pieces.  In 1980, he received the Henry Gray Award from the American Association of Anatomists for outstanding contributions to anatomy.  Cobb’s professional example in medicine is honored by the W. Montague Cobb National Medical Association Health Institute. Cobb was a dedicated builder of infrastructure and opportunity.  He saw the value of systematic human skeletal collections and unlike some eminent scientists of the time recognized that investigations of the influence of environment and behavior (rather than assumptions of racial determinism) were critical to understanding human skeletal variation.  From this understanding, Cobb constructed a systematic human skeletal collection from the local Washington, D.C. area and included careful attention to social aspects of its individuals, including socio-economic class, occupation and so on.  The collection now forms the basis of the W.M. Cobb Research Laboratory at Howard. The W.M. Cobb Professional Development Grants are a fitting recognition of Cobb’s commitment to science, inclusion and opportunity and his long and distinguished service to the AAPA. More information on his remarkable career in the context of the early development of Physical Anthropology can be found in Rankin-Hill and Blakey (1994).

Cobb W.M. (1933) Human materials in American institutions available for Anthropological study. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 17supplement, 1-49.

Cobb W.M. (1936). Race and runners. Journal of Health and Physical Education 7, 1-9.

Cobb W.M. (1940).  The cranio-facial union in man. American J. Physical Anthropology 26, 87-111.

Cobb W.M. (1942).  Physical Anthropology of the American Negro. American J. Physical Anthropology 29, 113-222

Cobb W.M. (1943). The cranio-facial union and the maxillary tuber in mammals. American J. Anatomy 72, 39-111.

Rankin-Hill, L.M., Blakey, M.L. (1994) ; American Anthropologist, New Series, 96:74-96.

Eligibility: Applicants must have completed the PhD or equivalent terminal degree in biological anthropology or an allied discipline. Applicants must be conducting applied or academic research that is within the disciplinary boundaries of biological anthropology. Applicants must be junior faculty members (such as postdoctoral scholars, lecturers, or Assistant Professors) and must be non-tenured at the time of application and award. Individuals in non-traditional positions equivalent to these junior faculty positions are also encouraged to apply. Membership in the AABA is NOT a requirement. An applicant may receive only one Professional Development Grant during their career. 

The program is primarily directed toward the career development of individuals who have not yet been successful with major awards (e.g., NSF, NIH) to fund their research. Explicitly, this is not a program for filling in funds that were cut from, or are needed for an already funded project. That being said, if an applicant was previously funded by NSF, NIH, or another major funding organization, they are not necessarily disqualified from applying. If an applicant is currently funded by a major organization and fulfills all of our other requirements, they may still apply if their application involves the development of a novel idea for which funds are needed to collect pilot data or perform another activity to get the new research started. For applications of comparable quality, priority will be given to the applicant who has not yet received major funding. If in doubt about the appropriateness of your proposal for an AAPA Professional Development Grant, contact Dr. Shara Bailey. The program is directed toward the career progress of individuals, therefore co-authored/multi-authored applications will not be considered. Completed applications must be received on or before January 15, 2021.  Incomplete/late applications cannot be considered.  

Application Procedure: Applicants are required to submit a research proposal, curriculum vitae, a letter explaining how this research will promote their careers, and a letter from a colleague (e.g., former supervisor) who can evaluate both the significance of the research and its impact on the applicant’s career. Approvals to conduct the research (e.g., field permits, IRB approvals) are not required at the time of submission but should be in progress. Applicants will have until the end of the calendar year in which the award was given to secure necessary approvals. Funds will not be released until approvals are in place.

A complete application includes: 

  1. Project Cover Sheet (signature required); 
  2. Cover Letter from the applicant explaining the importance of the proposed project for their professional career (500 word maximum); 
  3. Project Description which presents the nature of the project, the methods to be employed, and the scientific importance of the proposed research, including the connection of the research to the larger goals of the discipline. This description (not to exceed 1500 words) should be written so that it can be evaluated by any professional biological anthropologist. A bibliography must be included and will not count toward the 1500 word limit. Illustrations and tables may be submitted but are not to exceed three pages of material (in addition to the project description and bibliography) and should include explanatory captions; 
  4. Budget (1 page max), which itemizes costs, briefly justifies the use of AABA funds for these expenditures with reference to the proposed project, lists other grants submitted or received for this project, and explains any overlap in funding and the relationship of the AABA grant to other funding (e.g., can the project stand alone with only AAPA funding?). The AABA Professional Development Program does not allow overhead funds. The budget should not exceed $7,500
  5. Curriculum Vitae for the applicant, which must include a history of successful funding (including dates) and a list of grants currently under review. If the applicant has not yet received any funding, the CV should still contain a section entitled “External funding” or “Grants and fellowships” with no entries under “funded awards” as well as a list of those “currently under review”; and 
  6. Letter of support from a colleague (or supervisor) who can evaluate both the scientific merit of the project and its impact on the applicant’s career. Parts 1-5 should be submitted as a SINGLE pdf document to: Dr. Shara Bailey. Item 6 should be emailed directly to Dr. Bailey by January 15, 2021.  
  7. A completed Professional Conduct Disclosure Form.

Applications must be received by TBD.  Incomplete/late applications cannot be considered.

If electronic submission is impossible, applications should be mailed to: Dr. Shara Bailey,  Department of Anthropology, New York University, 25 Waverly Place, New York, New York 10003. Applications must be received by TBD.  Incomplete/late applications cannot be considered.  

Evaluation and Decisions: Grant applications will be reviewed and ranked by a committee of AABA members chaired by Dr. Bailey. Decisions will be confirmed by the AABA Executive Committee. Recipients will be announced in early Spring and grantees will be recognized at the AABA Business Meeting. Decisions of the Award Committee in any year are final and not subject to appeal or reassessment.


Tom Kraft, University of California, Santa Barbara. Evaluating the drivers of lifestyle change and health among transitioning indigenous communities in Peninsular Malaysia.
Nandini Singh, California State University Sacramento. Experimental animal models for domestication.
Ameline Bardo, University of Kent. A helping hand: investigating 3D motion of human hand bones during Palaeolithic tool behaviours.
Elaine Guevara, Duke University. Molecular underpinnings of folivory: patterns of convergence and differentiation across a clade.
Cassandra Turcotte, New York University. Identifying sources of trabecular architecture variation in the rhesus macaques of Cayo Santiago.


Elizabeth Mallott, Northwestern University. Contributions of the gut microbiome to reproductive health in female primates.
Mareike Janiak, University of Calgary. Age-related changes in the digestome of rhesus macaques.
Stefano Kaburu, University of Wolverhampton. Mother-infant face-to-face communication in Barbary and long-tailed macaques.
Elizabeth Berger, University of Michigan. Death and disease in a time of climate change: Paleodemography of Bronze Age Northwest China.
Alejandra Ortiz, Arizona State University. An ontogenetic study of the internal paranasal anatomy of hominoids.


Myra Laird, University of Chicago. The influence of dietary grit on feeding behavior.
Brandon Wheeler, University of Kent. The evolutionary origins of primate sociality: Finding a missing piece of the puzzle.
Andrew Barr, George Washington University. Tumbili (Late Miocene, Kenya): A new window into eastern African mammalian evolution at the dawn of the hominin lineage.
Wendy Erb, Rutgers University. Calls for conservation: Bioacoustic monitoring of endangered apes to support protection of a threatened Bornean landscape.
Keolu Fox, University of California San Diego. Mining paleogenomic datasets for thrifty variants involved in catecholamine resistance.
Sarah Schrader, University of Leiden. Unearthing hidden stress and frailty: An assessment of hair cortisol and non-specific disease indicators.


Ashley S. Hammond, George Washington University. Hominoid-like fossils from the late Oligocene of Kenya.
Michelle A. Rodrigues, University of Illinois. The biological impact of tend-and-befriend strategies: How female social relationships mediate stress in female scientists of color.
Amanda Tan, Dartmouth College. Using stable isotopes to measure the nutritional advantages of stone tool use by long-tailed macaques.
Jimena Barbeito Andrés, Federal Institute University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Interpreting brain and skull phenotypic outcomes when Zika virus and undernutrition interact during early development.
Corey Ragsdale, Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville. Biological consequences of Spanish colonization in Mexico.
Justin Ledogar, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia. Evolutionary modeling of craniofacial shape and functional performance in fossil hominins and extant durophagous primates.
Stephen G.B. Chester, City University of New York. New Paleogene primate skeletons from fossiliferous limestones.


John Starbuck, University of Central Florida. Big brains and small faces: The power of aneuploidy to elucidate mechanisms influencing human evolution and development.
Ryan Schmidt, University of Texas, Austin. Eneolithic Trypillain genomic variability and the origins of the Cucuteni-Tripolye peoples.
Michelle Brown, University of California, Santa Barbara. Measuring the effects of feeding competition at multiple scales in a frugivorous primate community.
Stephanie Meredith, Harvard University. Do winners take all? Assessing subadult sperm competition in hamadryas baboons.


Sharon Kessler, McGill University. Mouse lemurs as potential sentinels and reservoirs of diseases.
Davide Ponzi, University of Chicago. Role of puberty in the development of chronotype in a rural Caribbean community.
Elizabeth Quinn, Washington University. I breastfeed, therefore I am.
Christopher Shaffer, Grand Valley State University. Ethnoprimatology of the Konashen community owned conservation concession, Guyana.
Marin Pilloud, University of Nevada Reno. Dental phenotypic variation in Neolithic Anatolia: Identifying social structure and population movement in early farming societies.


S. Tecot, University of Arizona. Evolved hormonal mechanisms of allomaternal care behavior in red-bellied lemurs, Eulemur rubriventer.
J. Teichroeb, Duke University. Angolan colobus (Colobus angolensis ruwenzorii) supertroops: Do these represent multilevel societies driven by ecological factors?
C. Kirchhoff, University of North Texas. Are skeletal trauma patterns affected by sociality? An interspecific study.
J. Malukiewicz, Federal University of Minas Gerais. Next generation divergence genomics of Callithrix flaviceps, C. geoffroyi, and their hybrids.
N. Hawley, Brown University. Influence of infant growth on body size and blood pressure at age 6/7 in American Samoa.
E. Miller, University of South Florida. The feeding ecology of infant immune function in the United States.


Dr. Lesley Gregoricka, University of South Alabama. Negotiating identity in prehistoric semi-nomadic societies: A biogeochemical assessment of residential mobility in Bronze Age Oman.
Dr. Abigail Bigham, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Functional consequences of EGLN1 genetic variation in high-altitude Andeans and Tibetans.
Dr. Kristi Lewton, Harvard University. Morphological integration and the evolvability of the mammalian pelvis: implications for primate evolution.
Dr. Siobhan Cooke, Northeastern Illinois University. Primate paleontology in the Dominican Republic.
Dr. Sergio Almécija, Stony Brook University. The 3D shape and function of Miocene ape and early hominin hands and feet.
Dr. Chris Gilbert, Hunter College, CUNY. Skeletal analysis of the Lesula.
Dr. Lynn Copes, Quinnipiac University. Skeletal robusticity in sooty mangabeys (Cercocebus atys): Interactions among bone shape, density and mechanical performance.
Dr. Janine Chalk, Duke University. Age-related differences in nutrient intake and energy balance in wild Brown capuchins.


Cynthia Thompson, Northeast Ohio Medical University. Development of non-invasive methods for studying the hormonal regulation of feeding behavior in wild primates.
Claire Terhune, Duke University Medical School. Were Neanderthals biting off more than they could chew? Evidence from the temporomandibular joint of Middle and Late Pleistocene hominins.
Biren Patel, Stony Brook University. Primate evolution and biogeography in the Lower Siwaliks of India.
Sharon DeWitte, University of South Carolina. Paleoepidemiology of historic plague epidemics: the dynamics of an ancient emerging disease.
Varsha Pilbrow, University of Melbourne. The physical anthropology of the 2200 BC – 600 AD humans from Samtavro in the Caucasus region of Georgia.
James London, University of Colorado-Boulder. New directions in early South African hominin dietary ecology.


Dr. Seth D. Dobson, Dartmouth College. Co-evolution of facial expression, visual specialization, and brain size in anthropoid primates.
Dr. Jacqueline T. Eng, Western Michigan University. Nomads and the steppe empires of Mongolia: A bioarchaeological perspective.
Dr. Marta Alfonso-Durruty, University of Pennsylvania. Co-occurrence of porotic hyperostosis and spina bifida occulta among high-latitude hunter-gatherers.
Dr. Marina B. Blanco, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. First assessment of minimum life span in wild dwarf lemurs by dental topographic analysis.
Dr. Paula N. Gonzalez, University of Calgary. Developmental Plasticity in the Skull: Effects of Prenatal Stress on Morphological and Genetic Traits..
Dr. Phillip E. Melton, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research. Reconstruction of migration patterns in Mennonite communities using molecular markers: Y-chromosome perspectives.


Dr. Doug Boyer, Stony Brook University. Evolutionary morphology of primates using digital tooth models.
Dr. Ömer Gökçümen, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Mass.. Copy number variation in immunity genes among the genomes of indigenous Americans..
Dr. Julienne Rutherford, University of Illinois at Chicago. Placental morphology and physiology in relation to fetal growth and brain development in the vervet monkey (Chlorocebus aethiops).
Dr. Brian Villmoare, University College, London. Morphological integration of the primate masticatory apparatus.


Michelle Bezanson, Santa Clara College. Bringing the lab into the field: Kinematics during quadrupedal walking in Cebus capucinus.
Michelle Buzon, Purdue University. A bioarchaeological investigation of identity development during Napatan state formation.
Francis Kirera, National Museums of Kenya.. Recovery of new hominin remains from a new 1.5 Ma Site, Ileret, Northern Kenya.
Denise Su, Pennsylvania State University. Paleontological and geological explorations in the Zhaotong Basin, Yunnan Province, China.
Kathryn Muldoon, Dartmouth University. Primate extinction and community dynamics at a new subfossil site: Christmas River, South-central Madagascar.
Melissa Emery Thompson, University of New Mexico. Energetics of lactation in chimpanzees.

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