Nina Jablonski

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Nina Jablonski
Nina Jablonski 2016 The Skin of Homo sapiens 01.jpg
Jablonski in 2017
Born 1953 [1]
Hamburg, NY
Nationality American
Fields anthropology, palaeobiology, paleontology, human biology
Institutions The Pennsylvania State University
Alma mater Bryn Mawr College (1975 A.B.)
Thesis Functional Analysis of the Masticatory Apparatus of Theropithecus gelada (Primates: Cercopithecidae) (1981)
Notable awards Fletcher Foundation Fellow, 2005, Guggenheim Fellowship, 2012

Nina G. Jablonski (born 1953)[1] is an American anthropologist and palaeobiologist, known for her research into the evolution of skin color in humans. She is engaged in public education about human evolution, human diversity, and racism. She is an Evan Pugh University Professor at The Pennsylvania State University, and the author of the books Skin: A Natural History, and Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color.


Jablonski grew up on a farm in upstate New York State. She was inspired to study science by a National Geographic program about Louis Leakey, the palaeontologist.[2]

Jablonski earned a A.B. degree in biology from Bryn Mawr College in 1975, and received her PhD in anthropology from the University of Washington in 1981. She was awarded an DPhil. (Honoris Causa) from Stellenbosch University in 2010.[3]


After finishing school, Jablonski was a lecturer in the Department of Anatomy at the University of Hong Kong from 1981 to 1990, a lecturer in the Department of Anatomy and Human Biology at the University of Western Australia from 1990 to 1994, held the Irvine Chair of Anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences from 1994 to 2006, and then served as head of the Anthropology Department at Penn State from 2006 to 2011, she is currently an Evan Pugh University Professor at Penn State.[2]


Jablonski researches human and primate evolution.[3] She is known for her research into human skin, and has published two books on the subject. She researches the origin and evolution of the skin and skin pigmentation and the relationships between vitamin D requirements and metabolism in the context of human migration and urbanization.[3] In 2012 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to carry out research into human vitamin D production in natural conditions with the goal of informing public health interventions addressing vitamin D deficiency.[4]

Jablonski also researches primate evolution in response to environmental change, the role of displays and physical stature in the evolution of hominid bipedalism, and primates in post-Miocene environments.[3]

She leads the Being Human Today: The Effects of Race at Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies (STIAS), in South Africa, which studies the methodology of research into race and racial discrimination. She is also involved in an initiative to improve the understanding of evolution and increase the take up of STEM fields in the United States, leading the development of genetics and genealogy curricula for undergraduate students.[5]

Jablonski gave a TED presentation in 2009 entitled Skin colour is an illusion.[6] She has also appeared in an episode of the BBC documentary series Horizon ("What's the problem with nudity?),[7] as well as on The Colbert Report and several NPR radio shows.[3]


  • Jablonski, N. G. (2012) Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color. Berkeley, University of California Press
  • Jablonski, N. G. (2006) Skin: a Natural History. Berkeley, University of California Press

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dreifus, Claudia (January 9, 2007). "A Conversation With Nina G. Jablonski: Always Revealing, Human Skin Is an Anthropologist's Map". The New York Times. Jablonski … 53 
  2. ^ a b Jablonski, Nina. "About". Retrieved February 3, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Department of Anthropology – People". Penn State University. Retrieved February 3, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Fellows: Nina G Jablonski". Guggenheim Fellowship. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Nina Jablonski". Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Nina Jablonski breaks the illusion of skin colour". TED. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  7. ^ King, Paul. "Can people unlearn their naked shame?". BBC. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 

External links[edit]