Fellowship honors anthropology’s Rachel Caspari

Prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science chooses new members

| Author: Gary H. Piatek

Rachel Caspari is in elite company.

The faculty member in Central Michigan University's Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

"An AAAS fellowship is the pinnacle of academic achievement and teaching excellence," President Bob Davies said. "This brings significant honor and distinction to CMU."

Caspari is CMU's third recipient of the prestigious honor in three years, joining Michael Gealt, provost emeritus, and Robert Petersen, chair of the College of Medicine's foundations of medicine program.

As a fellow, Caspari also has a common bond with renowned scientists from history, including inventor Thomas Edison; anthropologist Margaret Mead; and American biologist James Watson, who helped discover the structure of DNA.

"It's an honor to be an AAAS fellow," Caspari said. "I am humbled and very flattered to be recognized among the fellows who have done substantial work in the field."

Caspari was cited for exemplary professional leadership and her contributions to the understanding of race, evolution of human longevity, Neanderthals and the origin of human modernity.

"I work on changes that happen in the human fossil record," she said. "I have spent a lot of my life doing research on what it means to be a modern human, both biologically and behaviorally.

"I've also done a lot of work on race and what we mean by race and why race and geographic variations are not the same thing, and how do we stop thinking about race as biological."

Caspari was among 443 fellows chosen this year. Election is made by AAAS member peers. New fellows receive a certificate and a gold and blue rosette pin, representing science and engineering.

Laura Cochrane, department chair, said Caspari is an internationally recognized scholar of biological anthropology and a sought-after colleague, mentor and teacher.

"We are fortunate that she is part of the CMU community."

Caspari teaches introductory classes and upper-level lab courses. She also is a former department chair.

The AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science — the world's largest peer-reviewed, paid-circulation general science journal.

Founded in 1848, the association includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals.

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