Elizabeth Sawchuk, PhD

Assistant Curator of Human Evolution - Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Faculty of Arts - Anthropology Dept

Pronouns: She/her/hers


Assistant Curator of Human Evolution - Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Faculty of Arts - Anthropology Dept


Area of Study / Keywords

Bioarchaeology Sub-Saharan Africa Health and Disease Food Production Dental Anthropology Holocene Climate Change Mortuary Archaeology Ancient DNA Ethics


Dr. Sawchuk is an Adjunct Professor and former Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Anthropology. She holds a B.A. (Hon) (2008) and M.A. (2012) in Anthropology from the University of Alberta and a Ph.D. (2017) in Anthropology from the University of Toronto. After completing a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Postdoctoral Fellowship at Stony Brook University in New York, she returned to the University of Alberta as a Lecturer and Adjunct Professor 2019-20 and a Banting Scholar 2020-22.  

She is now the Assistant Curator of Human Evolution at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. She is also affiliated with Case Western Reserve University (Ohio), Stony Brook University (New York), and the Turkana Basin Institute (Kenya).


Dr. Sawchuk is a bioarchaeologist and anthropological archaeologist who studies the African past and human population history. She is particularly interested in how herding and farming spread into sub-Saharan Africa beginning ~5000 years ago, and how ancient peoples navigated issues of climate change, shifting economic/land use strategies, and contact with foreign groups. She has worked at field sites across Kenya and Tanzania, and co-directs excavations in northern Kenya as part of the Later Prehistory of West Turkana (LPWT) project. She also collaborates on an international Archaeology-Ancient DNA project looking at human population structures in Holocene Africa, and advocates for ethical approaches to aDNA and other research involving human remains. Her work integrates diverse lines of evidence from osteology, dental anthropology, mortuary archaeology, paleogenomics, material culture studies, and ethnographic records to understand how past peoples coped with major changes in their world and what lessons can be learned from their experiences. Her research has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Turkana Basin Institute, and the National Geographic Society.

Dr. Sawchuk’s current research around Lake Turkana, Kenya investigates how the transition from foraging to mobile pastoralism affected peoples’ lives and bodies. She was recently awarded a SSHRC Insight Development Grant with co-PI Professor Lesley Harrington to explore patterns of ‘health’ among the earliest herders in eastern Africa. 

If you would like a PDF copy of any of Dr. Sawchuk's publications, please email her and she will be happy to share!


ANTHR 150: Race and Racism

ANTHR 206: Introduction to Archaeology

ANTHR 209: Introduction to Biological Anthropology 

Featured Publications

Goldstein S, Hixon S, Scott E, Wolfhagen J, Victor I, Janzen A, Chritz K, Sawchuk E, Ndiema E, Sealey JC, Stone A, Zoeller G, Fernandes R

Journal of Open Archaeological Data. 2022 December; 10 (6) 10.5334/joad.94

Sawchuk EA, Hildebrand EA, Hill AC, Contreras DA, Edung JE, Janzen A, Kurewa A, Munene JK, Ndiema E, Grillo KM

Antiquity. 2022 December; 96 (390):1460-1477 10.15184/aqy.2022.141

Prendergast ME, Sawchuk E, Sirak KA

Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History. 2022 October; 10.1093/acrefore/9780190277734.013.143

Hildebrand E, Grillo K, Chritz K, Fischer ML, Goldstein ST, Janzen A, Junginger A, Kinyanjui R, Ndiema E, Sawchuk EA, Beyin A, Pfeiffer SK

The Holocene. 2022 October; 32 (12) 10.1177/0959683622112176

Sirak K, Sawchuk E, Prendergast M

Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology. 2022 May; 10.1093/acrefore/9780190854584.013.484

Lipson M†, Sawchuk EA†, Thompson JC, Oppenheimer J, Tryon CA, Ranhorn KL, de Luna K, Sirak KA, Olalde I, Ambrose SH, Arthur JW, Arthur KJW, Ayodo G, Bertacchi A, Cezero-Román JI, Culleton BJ, Curtis MC, Davis J, Gidna AO, Hanson A, Kaliba P, Katongo M, Kwekason A, Laird MF, Lewis J, Mabulla A, Mapemba F, Morris A, Mudenda G, Mwafulirwa R, Mwangomba D, Ndiema E, Ogola C, Schilt F, Willoughby P, Wright DK, Zipkin A, Pinhasi R, Kennett DJ, Manthi FK, Rohland N, Patterson N, Reich D, Prendergast ME († = co-first authors)

Nature. 2022 February; 6-4 (290-296) 10.1038/s41586-022-04430-9

E.A. Sawchuk

The Encyclopedia of Ancient History: Asia and Africa. 2021 October; 10.1002/9781119399919.eahaa00606

Alpaslan-Roodenberg, S; Anthony, D; Babiker, H; Bánffy, E; Booth, T; Capone, P; Deshpande-Mukherjee, A; Eisenmann, S; Fehren-Schmitz, L; Frachetti, M; Fujita, R; Frieman, CJ; Fu, Q; Gibbon, V; Haak, W; Hajdinjak, M; Hofmann, KP; Holguin, B; Inomata, T; Kanzawa-Kiriyama, H; Keegan, W; Kelso, J; Krause, J; Kumaresan, G; Kusimba, C; Kusimba, S; Lalueza-Fox, C; Llamas, B; MacEachern, S; Mallick, S; Matsumura, H; Morales-Arce, AY; Motuzaite Matuzeviciute, G; Mushrif-Tripathy, V; Nakatsuka, N; Nores, R; Ogola, C; Okumura, M; Patterson, N; Pinhasi, R; Prasad, SPR; Prendergast, ME; Punzo, Luis Punzo, J; Reich, D; Sawafuji, R; Sawchuk, E; Schiffels, S; Sedig, J; Shnaider, S; Sirak, K; Skoglund, P; Slon, V; Snow, M; Soressi, M; Spriggs, M; Stockhammer, PW; Szécsényi-Nagy, A; Thangaraj, K; Tiesler, V; Tobler, R; Wang, C-C; Warinner, C; Yasawardene, S; Zahir, M

Nature. 2021 October; 599 10.1038/s41586-021-04008-x

Laird MF, Sawchuk EA, Kwekason A, Mabulla AZP, Ndiema E, Tryon CA, Lewis JE, Ranhorn KL

American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 2021 February;

Wang K†, Goldstein ST†, Bleasdale M, Clist B, Bostoen K, Bakwa-Lufu P, Buck LT, Crowther A, Dème A, McIntosh RJ, Mercader J, Ogola C, Power R, Sawchuk E, Robertshaw P, Wilmsen EN, Pretraglia M, Ndiema E, Manthi FK, Krause J, Roberts P, Boivin N, Schiffels S († = co-first authors)

Science Advances. 2020 June; 6 (24):eaaz0183

Sawchuk, EA

African Archaeological Review. 2020 February; 37

Lipson M, Ribot I, Mallick S, Rohland N, Olalde I, Adamski N, Broomandkhoshbacht N, Lawson AM, Lopez S, Oppenheimer J, Stewardson K, Asombang R, Bocherens H, Bradman N, Cornelissen E, Crevecoeur I, Lavachery, de Maret P, Mbida Mindzie C, Orban R, Sawchuk E, Semal P, Thomas MG, Van Neer W, Veeramah KR, Kennett DJ, Patterson N, Hellenthal G, Lalueza-Fox C, MacEachern S, Prendergast M, Reich D

Nature. 2020 January; 577

Roberts P, Prendergast M, Janzen A, Shipton C, Blinkhorn J, Zech J, Crowther A, Sawchuk E, Ndiema E, Petraglia M, Boivin N

Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 2020 January; 537

Sawchuk E, Prendergast M

The Conversation (US). 2019 December;

Sawchuk E, Miller JM

The Conversation (Africa). 2019 December;

Miller JM, Sawchuk EA

PLoS ONE. 2019 November; 14 (11):e0225143

Sawchuk EA, Pfeiffer S, Klehm C, Cameron ME, Hill AC, Janzen A, Grillo KM, Hildebrand EA

Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. 2019 November; 11

Prendergast ME†, Lipson M†, Sawchuk EA†, Olade I, Ogola C, Rohland N, Sirak KA, Adamski N, Bernardos R, Broomandkhoshbacht N, Callan K, Culleton BJ, Eccles L, Harper TK, Lawson A-M, Mah M, Oppenheimer J, Stewardson K, Zalzala F, Ambrose SH, Ayodo G, Louis Gates Jr H, Gidna A, Katongo M, Kwekason A, Mabulla A, Mudenda GS, Ndiema EK, Nelson C, Robertshaw P, Kennett DJ, Manthi FK, Reich D († = co-first authors)

Science. 2019 May; 365 (6448):eaaw6275

Prendergast M, Sawchuk E

The Conversation (US). 2019 May;

Sawchuk E, Prendergast M

The Conversation (US). 2019 March;

Sawchuk EA, Goldstein ST, Grillo KM, Hildebrand EA

Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. 2018 September; 157

Hildebrand EA, Grillo KM, Sawchuk EA, Pfeiffer S, Conyers L, Goldstein ST, Hill AC, Janzen A, Klehm C, Helper M, Kiura P, Ndiema E, Ngugi C, Shea J, Wang H

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2018 August; 115 (36):8942-8947

Miller JM†, Sawchuk EA†, Reedman A, Willoughby PR († = co-first authors)

African Archaeological Review. 2018 July; 35 (3):347-378

Prendergast ME†, Sawchuk EA† († = co-first authors)

Antiquity. 2018 June; 92 (363):803-815

Goldstein ST, Hildebrand EA, Storozum MJ, Sawchuk EA, Lewis JE, Ngugi C, Robbins LH

Antiquity . 2017 December; 91 (360):e5

Biittner KM, Sawchuk EA, Miller JM, Werner JJ, Bushozi P, Willoughby PR

African Archaeological Review. 2017 May; 34 (2):275-295

Sawchuk EA, Willoughby PR

International Journal of Osteoarchaeology. 2015 September; 25 (5):593-607

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