Student to Work With 2008 Nobel Conference Speaker Curtis Marean

Posted on May 19th, 2010 by

Gustavus junior Kristin Schwagerl

Gustavus Adolphus College junior Kristin Schwagerl will have the opportunity to work alongside noted paleoanthropologist and 2008 Nobel Conference lecturer Curtis Marean during the 2010 Fall Semester.

Schwagerl, a sociology and anthropology major, will join Marean and his assembled team near Mossel Bay in South Africa where they will conduct a series of archaeological excavations. The sites are mostly large caves in the steep coastal cliffs above the Indian Ocean. The excavations are targeted at refining our understanding of the origins of modern human behavior and placing that event in its environmental context.

Schwagerl first met Marean at Gustavus when she served as one of his student hosts during the 2008 Nobel Conference which was titled Who Were The First Humans? It was at the Nobel Conference that Marean shared with the audience that he and his team had recently found the oldest known evidence for the use of coastal resources, dating back about 164,000 years, in a cave on the South African coastline near Mossel Bay.

Curtis Marean

Marean’s continued work on the South African coast is aimed at developing a continuous sequence of climate and environmental change from 400,000 to 30,000 years ago. The work, Marean says, will have implications not only for our understanding of modern human origins, but also for the response of terrestrial ecosystems to potential long-term climate change.

“This is an exciting opportunity for me and another example of the tremendous benefits the Nobel Conference offers Gustavus students,” Schwagerl said. “It’s not every day that an undergraduate student like myself gets the opportunity to work with such an esteemed paleoanthropologist like Marean.”

Marean is a professor at Arizona State University’s Institute of Human Origins and School of Human Evolution and Social Change.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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