Skip to contentSkip to site navigation

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

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.

  • BA, BS, Loyola University Chicago; MA, PhD, University of Michigan
  • At Vassar since 2016


Departments and Programs


  • ANTH 211. Virtual Anthropology
  • ANTH 232. Primate Behavior and Ecology
  • ENST 177. A Prehistoric Perspective on Climate Change

Selected Publications

Walker CS, Cofran Z, Grabowski M, Churchill SE, March D, Throckmorton Z, Hawks J, Rentzeperis F, Berger LR, DeSilva JM. 2019. Morphology of the Homo naledi femora from Lesedi. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 170: 5–23. (link)

Cofran Z. 2019. Brain size growth in AustralopithecusJournal 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)

VanSickle C, Cofran Z,Gomez-Martínez D, Williams SA, Churchill SE, Berger LR, Hawks J. 2018. Homo naledi pelvic remains from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution 125: 122–136. (link)

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


Download images for non-commercial use, photo credit required.

Photo: Karl Rabe / Vassar College