Introduction and Purpose

The AAPA Ethics Committee has launched an Ethics Fellows Program. The program is intended to serve two central purposes. The first purpose is to raise the level of ethical literacy among the AAPA membership by providing meaningful resources on topics relevant for biological anthropologists. The hope is that these materials will assist members in (1) identifying and addressing the ethical, legal, and social issues and (2) anticipating implications of their research. The second purpose is to provide interested members—particularly those early in their careers—an opportunity to engage actively with the Ethics Committee and gain experience with ethics educational and research projects.

Program Description

Each year the Ethics Committee may select up to two (2) scholars to serve as Fellows. The role of an AAPA Ethics Fellow is anticipated to vary from year to year to accommodate ongoing and emerging needs and priorities of the Ethics Committee and, to the extent possible, to allow the individual to explore his/her own interests in ethics. The following are examples of how an individual might serve as an Ethics Fellow: 

  • An individual with broad interests in ethics might advise the Ethics Committee with the development of a collection of case studies to help AAPA members better understand or teach others about issues relevant to their research or scholarship. 
  • An individual with specific interest in ethics of information access might advise the Ethics Committee by conducting a discrete research project (such as a survey of the publication policies for relevant journals, research funding agencies, or data repositories) and preparing a preliminary report for the Ethics Committee that could be further developed and shared with AAPA members. 
  • An individual might advise the Ethics Committee in the organization of a workshop, symposium, panel, or other events to be held during the annual meeting.

The AAPA Ethics Fellows Program is designed to coincide with a year of service beginning and ending at the AAPA annual meeting. The term duration and dates are subject to change and subject to negotiation for exceptional circumstances as the Ethics Committee determines is appropriate. 

Each AAPA Ethics Fellow will have a member of the Ethics Committee designated as his/her mentor for the fellowship. The AAPA Ethics Fellows Program is non-residential. Fellows will be expected to fulfill their responsibilities remotely and will interact with members of the Ethics Committee primarily through email, phone calls, and online meetings. Fellows will be included in Ethics Committee events and meetings. 

Fellowship Benefits

The primary benefit of the AAPA Ethics Fellows Program is its educational and professional development opportunities. Fellows are not provided a salary or stipend.


To be considered for the AAPA Ethics Fellows Program, the interested individual must: 

  • Be a member of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in good standing; 
  • Hold at least a bachelor’s degree; 
  • Have a well-articulated interest in ethics issues relevant to the field of biological anthropology; 
  • Be willing to perform tasks at the direction and under the supervision of the Ethics Committee for 12 months.

Selection Process

The deadline for consideration as an AAPA Ethics Fellow for 2019-2020 is November 15, 2019.  

Applicants must provide the following materials: 

  • A letter of interest (2-page maximum length) explaining the applicant’s interest in ethics issues;
  • A short essay answering the question posed for the upcoming fellowship year (see below); 
  • A two-page abbreviated CV summarizing the applicant’s education, experience, and relevant skills and activities; 
  • Three letters of reference from current members of the AAPA (as a signed pdf document; 2-page maximum length per letter). 
  • A completed Professional Conduct Disclosure Form.

The essay question for 2019-2020 is:

In 2018, the Supreme Court of the State of Hawai’i ruled that construction of a major telescope project could commence on Mauna Kea, a sacred volcano located in a conservation zone on the island of Hawai’i[1]. Protests for and against construction of this astronomical observatory are ongoing[2]; and in fact, this situation is not unique. Several contemporary examples of tensions between science/technology and indigenous rights include the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in the United States[3], the ongoing battle in Brazil about indigenous land rights in the Amazon vs. commercial farming[4], and the struggle in Colombia for indigenous land rights and self-determination[5].

Many biological anthropologists, be they experts in primatology, paleoanthropology, genetics, skeletal biology, or some other specialty, work in settings that either directly or indirectly include indigenous communities. For instance, bioarchaeologists often study the skeletal remains of Native peoples, and human geneticists can engage in ascertaining identity or origin of an ancestor via haplotype and other analyses.

The goal of our work is often nobly cited as knowledge production, but this ignores the consequent personal benefits of prestige and economic security that can result, as well as the inherent power and privilege disparity between scientists and members of indigenous communities.

Therefore, choose one area of biological anthropology (for example, including but not limited to: bioarchaeology, human biology, primatology, or human genetics) and discuss the ethical tensions between doing field or lab work in the chosen area (domestically or abroad) and affected indigenous communities. How can our work best respect and champion self-determination of indigenous communities[6] while simultaneously addressing questions of scientific importance? Further, how can the AAPA Ethics Committee best provide specific guidance to practitioners as they formulate their research plans so that consideration and respect of indigenous sovereignty are a departure point from where the methods are conceptualized?







To download a PDF version of this questions click here.

Submission and review process

Applicants should submit all application materials in one email to Dr. Robert Anemome using the subject “AAPA Ethics Fellows Application.”  

The Ethics Committee Fellows Program Facilitator will review submitted application materials, conduct phone and/or online interviews of candidates, and select up to two (2) individuals for the AAPA Ethics Fellows Program.  

The Ethics Committee is not required to select fellows, and there may be years when no fellows are selected. Individual(s) selected for the AAPA Ethics Fellows Program will be notified in January. Those who accept the opportunity will be expected to attend the AAPA annual meeting and will be welcomed as an incoming Fellow at the Ethics Committee business meeting. 


Individuals with questions about the AAPA Ethics Fellows Program may contact the AAPA Ethics Committee Chair:

Robert Anemone

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