Director- W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory


The W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory (Cobb Laboratory) at Howard University is one of the largest documented skeletal collections in the United States. It contains two unique collections: the Cobb Collection (which includes almost 700 skeletal remains and more than 250 osteological materials of 19th and 20th century African Americans from the Washington, DC, area) and the New York African Burial Ground Collection (which includes soil samples and archived bone fragments and teeth from 17th and 18th century a burial ground for enslaved Africans in New York City).

The director of this laboratory will be responsible for collaboratively articulating a forward-looking vision for the Cobb Laboratory, for overseeing its day-to-day operations (which will include managing staff, developing research projects, furthering research collaborations, and maintaining laboratory equipment), and for securing funding to support research in the lab. The successful candidate will have extensive knowledge of skeletal collections from the perspective of medical anthropology, biological anthropology, or a related field; experience in laboratory management; and demonstrated competencies with research methods. The candidate must also be able to work collaboratively with the archaeological researchers sharing the facility and with other researchers and laboratory staff at the University and collaborating institutions. In addition, the Cobb Laboratory Director will be responsible for teaching undergraduate and graduate students.

Core Responsibilities

Develop Research Projects and Secure Funding

The Cobb Laboratory director will be responsible for developing research projects and executing a research agenda for the lab. This will involve designing new research projects that reflect the latest advances in the field; designing and/or updating protocols related to research using the collections; selecting appropriate research methods; and coordinating with other researchers to ensure that projects are executed effectively and appropriately.

In collaboration with an advisory board, staff, and the University development office, the director will be responsible for identifying and successfully acquiring grant and private funding for research projects related to the lab’s collections.

Manage Laboratory Staff

The Cobb Laboratory director will be responsible for managing laboratory staff, which may include an assistant/associate director, research assistants, graduate and undergraduate students, technicians, and administrative staff. This may involve hiring, training, and supervising staff, as well as delegating tasks and ensuring that laboratory policies and procedures are followed. The director will consult with the researchers sharing the facility on procedural and other decisions affecting access and workflow.

Maintain Laboratory Equipment

The Cobb Laboratory director will be responsible for identifying, purchasing, and maintaining laboratory equipment and ensuring that it is in good working order. This will be facilitated by supervision of laboratory technicians and may involve scheduling routine maintenance and repairs, as well as ensuring that laboratory staff are trained on the proper use and maintenance of equipment.

Oversee Data Collection and Analysis

The Cobb Laboratory director will be responsible for overseeing data collection and analysis for research projects on the collection. This may involve supervising data collection activities, ensuring that data is properly stored and managed, and overseeing data analysis to ensure that it is accurate and comprehensive.

Collaborate with Other Researchers

The Cobb Laboratory director is expected to work collaboratively with other researchers to develop and execute research projects. This may involve coordinating with researchers from other departments, universities, or institutions, as well as working with interdisciplinary teams to address complex research questions. This may also involve undergraduate and graduate students from University or in the university consortium.

Rank and Teaching

The Cobb Laboratory director will serve at rank of Associate or Full Professor in the relevant department(s) and will report to the dean/s as appropriate. In this role, the successful candidate will be required to teach graduate and/or undergraduate courses in biological anthropology, bio-archaeology, genetics, biology, physiology, or related fields. In addition, the Director may develop didactic and laboratory curriculum dedicated to the use of the collection.


• Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology, Biological Anthropology, Evolutionary Biology, Bio-Archeology, or related field; • Eligible for rank of Associate or Full Professor; • Awareness of ethics matters of Biological Anthropology; • Extensive knowledge of biological anthropology, genetics, biology, physiology, osteology, or related fields, and laboratory management; • Experience with preservation and other practices unique to a skeletal lab; • Experience managing a laboratory staff and equipment; • Strong research skills, including experience with data collection and analysis; • Experience in fundraising and grant resource development, acquisition, and management; • Demonstrated interests in and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills; • Ability to work collaboratively with other researchers and laboratory staff; and • Demonstrated ability to create and execute a vision and research agenda (individually and for a lab of this caliber).

Salary and Benefits

Consistent with a position of this importance, Howard University will provide the successful candidate a competitive compensation and benefits package.

Applying Applicants should send dossiers to with “Cobb Laboratory Director” in the subject line. The dossier should include the following:

1. Cover letter addressing the qualifications listed above; 2. Current curriculum vitae; 3. Two-page statement of research accomplishments, interests, and future plans; and 4. Two-page statement of administrative philosophy and potential goals for the Cobb Laboratory.

The first review of candidates will begin for September 15, 2023, and end November 15, and first-round interviews will commence thereafter.


Howard University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, marital status, religion, disability or protected veteran’s status. Veterans and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply. Inquiries regarding provisions for persons with disabilities or veteran’s status, Equal Employment Opportunity and Title IX should be directed to the Office of Employee Relations and Equal Employment Opportunity at 202-806-1280.