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

Pan African Evolution Research Group

The Pan African Evolution Research Group is Dr Scerri's research group focused on the investigation of pan African evolutionary processes of our species. The group is funded by the Lise Meitner Excellence Programme and builds on Dr Scerri's previous research programme in Senegal, her theoretical and modelling work on early human population structure in Africa and her methods development work on stone tool analysis. 

For its first five years, the group is organised into three distinct projects: 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 Dr 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. 

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, Pan-Ev 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.