A distinguished professor of anthropology, Dr. Kristen Hawkes has advanced the study of age and sex differences in behavior among modern hunter-gatherers. She has co-directed two major field projects, among the Paraguayan Ache and the Tanzanian Hazda, that have produced the most extensive data so far on modern forager ecology.
Dr. Hawkes is best known for her research that produced the Grandmother Theory, to explain why humans in hunter-gatherer societies have longer life spans and produced more offspring than our closest relatives, the chimpanzees. She theorizes women are able to bear more children due to the help of grandmothers participating in the care taking. The strongest and healthiest grandmothers are likely to pass on their genes to more grandchildren, and over time, a longer life span would result from natural selection.
Dr. Hawkes received a bachelorˇs degree in sociology and anthropology from Iowa State University, and a masters and doctorate in anthropology from the University of Washington. She joined the University of Utah faculty in 1973, where she served as chair of the department of anthropology from 1996 to 2002. Hawkes credits the University of Utah and the college of social and behavioral sciences for the ongoing support of her work, stating, Now is the most exciting time to work on puzzles in human evolution because so much new evidence is emerging from so many different lines of inquiry.
Dr. Hawkes was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2002, was the human evolution area editor for the recently published Oxford Encyclopedia of Evolution, and serves on the science and grants executive committee of the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation.