Faculty Profile: Dr. John H. Relethford

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Fall 2014 semester (PDF file)

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Dr. Relethford and the rest of the
Anthropology Department

Click here for a list of corrections for the textbook Human Population Genetics.


Dr. John H. Relethford (Distinguished Teaching Professor) is a biological anthropologist who received his Ph.D. in anthropology in 1980 from the State University of New York at Albany. Prior to his current position at SUCO, he held the position of Post-Doctoral Research Scientist with the Department of Genetics at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research. He also served as Manager of Injury and Disability Surveillance in the Division of Epidemiology at the New York State Department of Health. In addition, he has served as an adjunct faculty in the Departments of Anthropology and Epidemiology at SUNY at Albany and continues to hold an adjunct position in the Department of Anthropology at the State University of New York at Binghamton. Dr. Relethford is a recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching (1994-95), and was the inaugural winner of the SUNY-Oneonta Susan Sutton Smith Prize for Academic Excellence in 1995. He was promoted to the rank of Distinguished Teaching Professor, the highest rank in the State University system, in 1998.

In addition to teaching introductory biological anthropology, Dr. Relethford also teaches courses on human variation, human evolution, and anthropological genetics. Dr. Relethford's major interests are in the fields of anthropological genetics, human variation, and modern human origins. Much of his research has focused on the reconstruction of history from patterns of modern biological variation. His past work has also included studies of migration, quantitative genetics, child growth, epidemiology, and aging. His current work focuses on three topics: global patterns of craniometric variation, the evolutionary history of Irish populations and the origin of modern humans. These projects have been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation (Ireland) and the SUNY Graduate Initiative program (modern humans).

Dr. Relethford has over 170 publications, including several books, 82 peer-reviewed journal articles, and 19 book chapters. His introductory text, The Human Species: An Introduction to Biological Anthropology (McGraw-Hill, 2013), is in its ninth edition. He has also written Genetics and the Search for Modern Human Origins (John Wiley & Sons, 2001), and Reflections of Our Past: How Human History is Revealed in Our Genes, which was published in April 2003 (Westview Press), and awarded the 2004 W.W. Howells Book Prize of the Biological Anthropology Section of the American Anthropological Association. He has also written a textbook entitled Human Population Genetics (2012), published by Wiley-Blackwell. He is also a coauthor of the textbook Human Biological Variation, now in its second edition (Oxford University Press, 2011). Other significant publications include "The use of quantitative traits in the study of human population structure (Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, 1982, with F.C. Lees)," "Detection of differential gene flow from patterns of quantitative variation (Human Biology, 1990, with J. Blangero)," "Craniometric variation, genetic theory, and modern human origins (American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 1994, with H.C. Harpending), "Anthropometric variation and the population history of Ireland" (American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 1995, with M.H. Crawford), "Models and predictions, and the fossil record of modern human origins" (Evolutionary Anthropology 8:7-10, 1999), “Boas and beyond: Migration and craniometric variation” (American Journal of Human Biology 16:379–386, 2004), “Global patterns of isolation by distance based on genetic and morphological data” (Human Biology 76:449–513, 2004), “Genetic evidence and the modern human origins debate” (Heredity 100:555–563, 2008), “Geostatistics and spatial analysis in biological anthropology” (American Journal of Physical Anthropology 136:1–10, 2008), and "Race and global patterns of phenotypic variation" (American Journal of Physical Anthropology 139:16-22, 2009).

Dr. Relethford has served as President, Past-President, and Vice President of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, and as a member of the Executive Committee of the organization. He has also served as Vice President and President of the American Association of Anthropological Genetics. He is currently Chair-Elect of Section H (Anthropology) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Relethford currently serves on the Editorial Boards of American Anthropologist, Human Biology, and the online journal PaleoAnthropology. He has also served as an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, the Journal of Human Evolution, and Human Heredity, and served on the editorial boards of the journals Current Anthropology, the online journal PLoS One, and the Yearbook of Physical Anthropology.


Courses currently taught by Dr. Relethford:

ANTH 130 Introduction to Biological Anthropology
ANTH 233 Race, Genetics, and Variation
ANTH 239 History of Human Evolution
ANTH 330 Paleoanthropology
ANTH 332 Human Population Genetics
ANTH 333 Human Biological Variation
ANTH 393 History of Anthropological Thought


E-Mail: John.Relethford@oneonta.edu


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