J. William Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences
Amelia Villaseñor is an ecologist whose research focus includes the hominin fossil record. Dr. Villaseñor received her BA from Arizona State University and her PhD from the Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology at the George Washington University. She focuses on how ecological change has affected the course of human evolution as well as how humans have affected their environments. Her research program has three main themes: 1) understanding the impact of climate on ancient environments, mammalian evolution, and mammal distributions, 2) investigating the evolution of savanna ecosystems from the Pliocene to the present, and 3) relating these processes to hominin evolution and behavior.
Her primary research is focused in one of the most well-known hominin sites in Africa: the Turkana Basin in northern Kenya. More recently, Dr. Villaseñor has extended her research focus to North America. Specifically, she researches the impact of the terminal Pleistocene megafaunal extinction (the impact of losing large mammals, such as mammoths and saber-toothed cats) on late Pleistocene North American ecosystems. This research contributes to the emerging field of conservation paleobiology, which uses data from past ecosystems to understand and predict the impact of human behavior on future ecosystems. Dr. Villaseñor uses multiple paleontological proxies to ask her questions including stable isotopes from soil and enamel, fossil morphology, and taxonomy. Her research includes collaborations with a several groups of colleagues from North America to Europe and Africa. Read more about it on her personal website.