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, 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 AABA. 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 AABA Professional Development Grant, contact Dr. Lauren Schroeder. 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, 2024. 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:
- Project Cover Sheet (signature required).
- Cover Letter from the applicant explaining the importance of the proposed project for their professional career (500 word maximum);
- 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.
- 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 AABA funding?). The AABA Professional Development Program does not allow overhead funds. The budget should not exceed $7,500.
- 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.”
- 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. Lauren Schroeder. Item 6 should be emailed directly to Dr. Schroeder by January 15, 2024.
- A completed Professional Conduct Disclosure Form.
Applications must be received by January 15, 2024. Incomplete/late applications cannot be considered.
If electronic submission is impossible, applications should be mailed to: Dr. Lauren Schroeder, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto Mississauga, 3359 Mississauga Road, Mississauga, Ontario L5L 1C6, Canada. Applications must be received by January 16, 2023. 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. Schroeder. Decisions will be confirmed by the AABA Executive Committee. Applications are evaluated according to the quality of the proposal, the significance of the research, the appropriateness of the budget, and the potential impact of the award on the applicant’s professional development. 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.
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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.
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Varsha Pilbrow, University of Melbourne. The physical anthropology of the 2200 BC – 600 AD humans from Samtavro in the Caucasus region of Georgia.
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.
Sharon DeWitte, University of South Carolina. Paleoepidemiology of historic plague epidemics: the dynamics of an ancient emerging disease.
James London, University of Colorado-Boulder. New directions in early South African hominin dietary ecology.
Cynthia Thompson, Northeast Ohio Medical University. Development of non-invasive methods for studying the hormonal regulation of feeding behavior in wild primates.
Dr. Jacqueline T. Eng, Western Michigan University. Nomads and the steppe empires of Mongolia: A bioarchaeological perspective.
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Dr. Seth D. Dobson, Dartmouth College. Co-evolution of facial expression, visual specialization, and brain size in anthropoid primates.
Dr. Marina B. Blanco, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. First assessment of minimum life span in wild dwarf lemurs by dental topographic analysis.
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Dr. Phillip E. Melton, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research. Reconstruction of migration patterns in Mennonite communities using molecular markers: Y-chromosome perspectives.
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Melissa Emery Thompson, University of New Mexico. Energetics of lactation in chimpanzees.
Michelle Bezanson, Santa Clara College. Bringing the lab into the field: Kinematics during quadrupedal walking in Cebus capucinus.
Kathryn Muldoon, Dartmouth University. Primate extinction and community dynamics at a new subfossil site: Christmas River, South-central Madagascar.
Francis Kirera, National Museums of Kenya.. Recovery of new hominin remains from a new 1.5 Ma Site, Ileret, Northern Kenya.
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