W2 Professor and Lise Meitner Group Leader of the Pan African
Research Group, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

aWARE Project

The aWARE project (West Africa's role in Recent human Evolution) is a programme of data recovery and fieldwork across several West African countries. It builds on the work of the Senegal Prehistory Project, a pilot programme led by Prof. Eleanor Scerri and Dr Khady Niang (University of Cheikh Anta Diop) between 2013 and 2017. This programme has now expaneded to include work beyond Senegal, in Benin, the Ivory Coast, Guinea and Nigeria. 

A related emerging project concerns disease-culture co-evolution in Africa and its relationship with human evolution and niche expansion.

Modelling Structure is a computational project looking at various different ways in which early human population structure and demography can be discerned. These include ecology based models as well as data free simulations. Finally, this project is also establishng a methods development programme, currently under constrution and focusing on machine learning approaches. 

A website on the group's work is currently under construction. 

The group currently consists of five postdoctoral researchers:

Dr James Blinkhorn, as director of fieldwork and geoarchaeologist

Dr Margherita Collucci, postdoctoral researcher in genetics

Dr Eslem Ben Arous, externally funded Fyssen postdoctoral Fellow in geochronology

Dr Khady Niang, externally funded Marie Skłodowska Curie Fellow in archaeology


Former postdoctoral researchers include:

Mr Adrian Timpson, group modeller and data scientist

Dr Emily Hallett, group zooarchaeologist/palaeontologist and ecological niche modeller

Former PhD students include:

Dr Jacopo Niccolò Cerasoni, PhD in hominin behaviour and environments of West Africa 


The group also has a network of close collaborators across Africa, Europe and North America.