Professor Jessica Thompson receives National Science Foundation grant for three years of research in Malawi

March 7, 2023

Professor Jessica Thompson and Yale Postdoctoral Associate Benjamin Davies, together with Justin Pargeter (NYU), have received three years of funding from the National Science Foundation to support research entitled “Cultural and environmental drivers of biological regionalization in the Late Pleistocene and Holocene Zambezian Biome”. Professor Thompson’s prior research in Malawi, which was one of NSF’s top ten most-read research news stories for 2022, revealed that ancient hunter-gatherers exchanged genes widely across eastern Africa until near the end of the last Ice Age cycle; after that, they organized into smaller and more genetically isolated groups. The new grant provides funding to examine the evidence for why this happened. Did environmental change cause people to interact less widely, or was the lack of connection because of emerging cultural boundaries? They will use new fieldwork and analyses of recovered archaeological and paleoenvironmental remains to answer this question.