Stone Age Institute post-doctoral fellow, Shelby Putt, moving to tenure-track position in Anthropology


Dr. Shelby Putt

Our current postdoctoral researcher, Dr. Shelby Putt, has accepted a tenure-track position at Illinois State University, where she will be Assistant Professor of Biological Anthropology, beginning August, 2019. Shelby has been working for the Stone Age Institute since earning her PhD in Anthropology in the summer of 2016 from the University of Iowa. Her award-winning dissertation work used an optical neuroimaging technique called fNIRS to measure brain activity as human participants made Oldowan and Acheulian stone tools. Since arriving at the institute, her time has been divided between designing and publishing experimental studies, public outreach, and teaching in the Cognitive Science Program at Indiana University. Her research, published in the scientific journals, Nature Human Behaviour and Interaction Studies, is advancing our knowledge on the origins of human language and cognition, leading to feature articles about her work in Discover Magazine, Archaeology, and Nature, and an interview on NPR’s radio program, Science Friday. In addition, Shelby has worked with a team of IU School of Informatics and Computing graduates to design the John Templeton Foundation funded Human Cognitive Evolution website, an educational resource for the general public.

Shelby will continue her research into human cognitive evolution at Illinois State University, where she will be directing the Biological Anthropology Laboratory. The lab will be equipped with dozens of hominin fossil and primate casts, updated computing resources, and a state-of-the-art Artinis Brite system, a wearable fNIRS device that measures brain oxygenation level. The Brite system will be used to continue cognition experiments relevant to human evolution. As the first neuroimaging lab on campus, the Biological Anthropology Lab will be an important educational resource for undergraduate and graduate students and other researchers. Shelby will be teaching introductory and advanced courses in biological anthropology, and she is looking forward to offering new courses that will explore the evolutionary origins of language and cognition.