Jablonski, Nina G.

views updated

Jablonski, Nina G.


Born in NY; married George Chaplin. Education: Bryn Mawr College, A.B.; University of Washington, Ph.D.


Anthropologist, educator, editor, and writer. University of Hong Kong, Department of Anatomy, Hong Kong, China, lecturer, 1981-90; University of Western Australia, Department of Anatomy, Perth, anthropology faculty member, 1990-94; California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, Irvine Chair and curator, 1994-2006; Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, editor and academic advisor, 2003—; Pennsylvania State University, State College, professor and head of the Department of Anthropology, 2006—. Also appointments at Stanford University, Stanford, CA, consulting professor and research professor, 1997—; University of California at Santa Cruz, adjunct professor, 2003—. Board member of nonprofit agencies, including The Pinhead Institute, 2002—.


Buffalo Foundation Scholarship, 1972-74; Bryn Mawr College regional scholarship, 1972-75; Smithsonian Institute predoctoral fellowship, 1978-79; Fulbright Senior Scholar, 1998; Fletcher Fellowships, 2005, for research on the evolution of human skin color; fellow of the California Academy of Sciences and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


(Editor) Theropithecus: The Rise and Fall of a Primate Genius, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1993.

(Editor) Evolving Landscapes and Evolving Biotas of East Asia since the Mid-Tertiary Proceedings of the Third Conference on the Evolution of the East Asian Environment, cartographic editor So Chak-Lam, Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong, China), 1993.

(Editor, with W. Eric Meikle and F. Clark Howell) Contemporary Issues in Human Evolution, California Academy of Sciences (San Francisco, CA), 1996.

(Editor, with others) The Changing Face of East Asia during the Tertiary and Quaternary: Proceedings of the Fourth Conference on the Evolution of the East Asian Environment, Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong, China), 1997.

(Editor, with Leslie C. Aiello) The Origin and Diversification of Language, editorial assistance by Nancy Gee, California Academy of Sciences (San Francisco, CA), 1998.

(Volume editor and author of introduction) The First Americans: The Pleistocene Colonization of the New World, California Academy of Sciences (San Francisco, CA), 2002.

(Editor, with Fred Anapol and Rebecca Z. German) Shaping Primate Evolution, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Skin: A Natural History, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 2006.

Contributor to scholarly books and monographs. Contributor to professional journals, including Nature, Anthropological Sciences, Journal of Human Evolution, and the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Served in editorial positions for several journals, including, Human Evolution, 1986—, Folia Primatologica, 1999—, and Journal of Human Evolution, 2003—.


Nina G. Jablonski is an anthropologist whose wide-ranging interests include the fossil record of Old World monkeys, human and primate evolution, evolution of bipedalism in the human lineage, evolution of human skin coloration, and evolution of environments and mammalian faunas of East Asia. She has edited numerous books in the field and is also the author of Skin: A Natural History. In Skin, Jablonski focuses on the functions of skin both in its biological and cultural aspects. She traces the evolutionary development of skin and discusses such topics as why the skin turns color to reflect human emotions, such as anger and embarrassment, and the skin's role in the important sense of touch. The author also explores the effects of aging and environmental impacts on the skin and the key role skin plays in human health, such as protection from the sun's rays and the production of Vitamin D. The book includes photographs, illustrations, and maps.

John Taylor, writing in MBR Bookwatch, called Skin "an informed and informative addition to medical school, academic library, and Anthropological Studies collections" and also recommended it "for non-specialist general readers." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the author "nimbly interprets scientific data for a lay audience, and her geeky love for her discipline is often infectious." Michael D. Cramer, writing in the Library Journal, referred to the book as "a marvelous exploration," adding that the author's "enthusiasm for the topic [is] evident."

Jablonski is also the volume editor of The First Americans: The Pleistocene Colonization of the New World, consisting of papers presented at a 1999 symposium that focus on the most recent evidence at that time on the origins of people in the New World. In her introduction, Jablonski "shows that if this colonizing event was unimportant in the process of human evolution, from the ecological point of view it had great significance, and should be approached through multidisciplinary research," as noted by Tania Andrade Lima in Latin American Antiquity. Lima also wrote that the book "brings a revitalizing whiff of fresh air to the issue by adding the theory of a coastal migration along a littoral corridor to the traditional ice-free corridor route theory." Referring to the volume as "excellent," American Antiquity contributor Bruce B. Huckell wrote: "The chapters reflect the multidisciplinary approach that characterizes contemporary research into the peopling of the Americas; it also reveals the range of opinions and often confounding or contradictory evidence available from the various disciplines." N. James, writing in Antiquity called The First Americans "a substantial, well-organized and highly informative review by a roster of U.S. experts."



American Antiquity, January, 2006, Bruce B. Huckell, review of The First Americans: The Pleistocene Colonization of the New World, p. 187.

Antiquity, December, 2002, N. James, review of The First Americans, p. 1126.

Latin American Antiquity, September, 2003, Tania Andrade Lima, review of The First Americans, p. 359.

Library Journal, September 1, 2006, Michael D. Cramer, review of Skin: A Natural History, p. 174.

MBR Bookwatch, October, 2006, John Taylor, review of Skin.

Publishers Weekly, August 7, 2006, review of Skin, p. 45.

Science News, November 4, 2006, review of Skin, p. 303.


California Academy of Sciences Web site,http://www.calacademy.org/ (December 31, 2006), faculty profile of author.