Alison Brooks is Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at the George Washington University and a founding member of the Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology. She has conducted field work in numerous African countries in an attempt not only to understand cultural diversification within Africa but to reveal the cognitive and behavioral transformations that allowed our species to expand throughout the world. Brooks received her Ph.D. from Harvard, where she studied the early humans who occupied Western Europe during the Upper Paleolithic period. These “anatomically modern” Europeans clearly had not originated on that continent, so she began exploring the Pleistocene-era prehistory of Africa. She has traveled to Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Botswana, where she studied San hunter-gatherers and documented their long-term history. Brooks has found the oldest evidence for fishing technologies and projectile weapons, as well as early evidence for the expansion of social networks and symbolic behavior.
Brooks is also a research associate in the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, a visiting researcher at Harvard University and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She co-edited The Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory.