Zachary D. Cofran

Assistant Professor of Anthropology on the Mary Clark Rockefeller Chair
Zachary Cofran

I am a biological anthropologist who studies growth and development in humans and our close relatives, both living and extinct. I received my PhD from the University of Michigan in 2012, and have been an assistant professor at Vassar College since 2016.

My research is fossil-focused, with primary interests in the brain, Neandertals, and Homo naledi. In the classroom, my teaching emphasizes empirical evidence for topics including race and human variation, primate behavior, climate change, and evolution. I also run the Human Evolution and Development (HEAD) and Virtual Anthropology Labs, giving students hands-on opportunities to study how we became human.

On leave/sabbatical this semester.

BA, BS, Loyola University Chicago; MA, PhD, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
At Vassar since 2016


Blodgett Hall
Box 42

Departments and Programs

Selected Publications

Cofran Z, Boone M*, Petticord M*. 2021. Virtually estimated endocranial volumes of the Krapina Neandertals. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 174: 117–128. (*Vassar students! Article link)

VanSickle C, Cofran Z, Hunt D. 2020. Did Neandertals have large brains? Factors affecting endocranial volume comparisons. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 173: 768–775. (link)

Cofran Z. 2019. Brain size growth in Australopithecus. Journal of Human Evolution 130: 72–82. (link)

Cofran Z. 2018. Brain size growth in wild and captive chimpanzees. American Journal of Primatology 80: e22876. (link)

Cofran Z and Walker CSW. 2017. Dental development in Homo naledi. Biology Letters 13: 20170339. (link)