Dr. Franciscus was a lecturer and later an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University. He joined the University of Iowa Department of Anthropology as an assistant professor in 1998, was tenured in 2004 as an associate professor, and became a tenured professor in 2012.
Dr. Franciscus's research focuses on the Middle and Later Pleistocene period of genus Homo evolution. He is particularly interested in the evolutionary significance of the distinctive Neanderthal craniofacial pattern and the possible developmental, biomechanical, and stochastic models underlying its evolution over time in Europe and western Asia. He is also interested in the origins of modern humans and the definitional problems associated with the concept of anatomical "modernity."
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Dr. Franciscus is a member of the UCSD/Salk Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny, the Iowa Institute of Human Genetics, the European Society for the study of Human Evolution, the Leakey Foundation Alumni Society, the National Center for Science Education, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Paleoanthropology Society, and the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. He is also a past book review editor for American Journal of Physical Anthropology and former associate editor for Journal of Human Evolution. In 2014, Dr. Franciscus was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.