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Center for Functional Anatomy

and Evolution

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PhD Program in Functional Anatomy and Evolution

The FAE graduate program offers a Ph.D. in Functional Anatomy and Evolution and provides individualized support by world-leading professors for each student in a close-knit department with an excellent faculty to student ratio. Our primary focuses are independent research and teaching human gross anatomy, with research areas covered by faculty and students that range from vertebrate fossils, to primates to recent human remains.

As a result of the interdisciplinary training of the FAE graduate program, our graduates are well equipped to face the challenge of today's academic job market. For more information on requirements for entry to the program, see our requirements for admission. See links at the bottom of the page for further information about the program.


All students are required to engage in independent research, and a laboratory research rotation under faculty guidance begins soon after their arrival. Research may utilise our large collections of fossil vertebrates, our broad array of casts of recent and fossil mammal dentitions, or various samples of human historic and archaeological material. Research is further facilitated by our proximity to the collections of recent and fossil vertebrates held at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.; an hour's journey by public transport. Baltimore's excellent location additionally offers ease of access to the other major museums of the East Coast. These independant projects frequently develop into student publications or conference presentations.


Students are required to take classes during their first two years in the program. Chief among these is the School of Medicine's Gross Human Anatomy class. Additional required courses are taken in organ histology, evolutionary biology, biomechanics, morphometrics, statistics and mammalian and primate evolution. Other courses are offered by the faculty based on interest from the student body. The culmination of the first two years is the Doctoral Board Examinations, a two hour oral exam taken by the end of the second year. Successful completion of these exams allows progression to candidacy. The courses offered also include a number of smaller research opportunities, which offer further publication opportunities.


Teaching opportunities at the Center are primarily centered around training our students to teach human anatomy in a medical setting. For a recent article on how evolutionary biology and teaching anatomy interrelate in our group, see: ‘Bone-ified’ Professors of Anatomy.

Students act as teaching assistants for both the Summer Institute in Anatomy and the School of Medicine Gross Human Anatomy course. These are cadaver based courses, allowing the highest level of dissection-based experience. The School of Medicine course is taught for seven weeks at the start of the third year, while the Summer Institute is taught at the end of both first and second years, for two weeks each time. (For a medical student's look at this incredible experience, read the Johns Hopkins Magazine article "Four Students and a Cadaver") Teaching assistants receive feedback from their students, allowing the development of a teaching portfolio.

Further teaching opportunities are usually available through the undergraduate courses offered by the departmental faculty.


The FAE program also offers opportunities for fieldwork with our faculty in vertebrate paleontology, with a particular strength in the Eocene vertebrate faunas of Wyoming.

Center News

Welcome to our new first years: Zana Sims and EJ Huang!
Welcome to candidacy, Deanna Goldstein and Aneila Hogan!
Welcome to our new first years: Kinley Russell and Catherine Llera!
Welcome to candidacy, Christine Harper and Stephanie Canington!
Congratulations to Ken and Dave on their retirement!

Courses available from FAE
Recent faculty and student publications
FAE faculty