Where forensic science meets Jurassic Park
Ever thought about your really ancient ancestors? If you take a class from Brian Kemp, forensic genetics might help you discover that you share the same mega-great-grandparent as several people in your class.Professor Kemp teaches anthropology and genetics, taking his students deep into the world of dinosaurs and genetic ancestry.
In addition to studying ancient DNA from fossilized bones and pre-history evidence left behind by the human species, he sometimes takes DNA swabs of his students and helps them study their own lineage. From that, he's able to tell which of his students share a common ancestor thousands of years ago.
What is anthropology, anyway?
Anthropology is the holistic, global, comparative study of humans. It looks at the biological, psychological, cultural, linguistic, genetic, and fossil evidence of the pre-history human species."Anthropology is the Swiss Army knife of the sciences," says Professor Kemp. "That's because it has a little bit of everything. I mostly enjoy studying ancient DNA — the stuff that comes from old fossilized bones."
What can I do with a degree in anthropology?
The skills you get with a degree in anthropology can be used in just about any other field. A bachelor's degree in anthropology is a great precursor to graduate studies, where you can be involved in some fascinating research.
"When you study humans, you see that there are many solutions to problems and not just one way to get around in the world," says Kemp. "I would advise every college student to take an anthropology course because it will provide you with a broad perspective of the human condition."
"Studying anthropology and genetics is pretty flashy," he adds by way of selling his subject. "While you may never get the whole answer, the pursuit is worth it."