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Renowned Bioarchaeologist Jane Buikstra to Receive the Penn Museum's Lucy Wharton Drexel Medal

Medal Awarded at Evening Lecture on Ancient Tuberculosis and Leprosy

Presented by Dr. Buikstra Friday, May 11, 6:30 pm

PHILADELPHIA, PA, May 2018—Jane Buikstra, Regents’ Professor of Bioarchaeology and Founding Director, Center for Bioarchaeological Research in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University, will receive the Penn Museum’s Lucy Wharton Drexel Medal for exceptional achievement. Penn Museum Director Julian Siggers will present her with the award on Friday, May 11, 6:30 pm, just prior to an evening lecture she will offer, Ancient Tuberculosis and Leprosy: Pre-Columbian Presence in the New World, in the Museum’s Rainey Auditorium. (The lecture is free, but space is limited and online registration is required.) Dr. Buikstra will receive the Museum’s Lucy Wharton Drexel Medal just prior to her talk. You can read about it HERE.

Photo of speaker

“I am delighted to be awarding this prestigious medal to Dr. Jane Buikstra, who has, over the course of a long and distinguished career, developed and defined the field of bioarchaeology. Her groundbreaking international research in bioarchaeology, paleopathology, forensic anthropology, and paleodemography has revolutionized the field and enriched our understanding of the human experience,” noted Dr. Siggers.

In her evening talk, Ancient Tuberculosis and Leprosy: Pre-Columbian Presence in the New World, Dr. Buikstra focuses on tuberculosis and leprosy, closely related mycobacterial diseases which continue to challenge medical science today. Both are commonly considered Old World diseases, based upon evidence from texts, portable art, murals, and human remains. Focusing upon archaeological and biomolecular approaches, she considers new evidence for the antiquity of these mycobacterial diseases in the Americas.

About the Medal

The Lucy Wharton Drexel Medal, established by the Penn Museum in 1889 to honor exceptional achievement in excavation or publication of archaeological work, is given by the Museum Director in consultation with past medal recipients and archaeological curators of the museum. Distinguished past recipients have included W. M. Flinders Petrie, in 1903, for his work in Egypt; Sir Leonard Woolley, in 1955, for his work in the Near East; Gordon Randolph Willey, in 1981, for his work on the ancient Maya; Dr. Frederica de Laguna, in 1999, for her groundbreaking archaeological and ethnological work in Alaska; Lord Colin Renfrew, internationally renowned for his contributions to archaeological theory and science, in 2003, and most recently, Jeremy A. Sabloff, former Williams Director, Penn Museum, for his significant contributions to the field of Maya studies.

About Dr. Buikstra

Jane Buikstra’s work has defined the discipline of bioarchaeology, an international field that enriches archaeological knowledge of past peoples through scientific study of their remains and archaeological/historical contexts. Her research has spanned primarily the Americas and the Eastern Mediterranean but her bioarchaeological expertise and critical eye has extended into all geographic corners of the world. A prolific author, she has published more than 20 books and 200 articles and chapters. Professor Buikstra is the inaugural editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Paleopathology. Among her current research projects she is investigating the evolutionary history of ancient tuberculosis in the Americas based on archaeologically-recovered pathogen DNA.

Professor Buikstra has a long history of service to the scholarly community and honors to her name. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1987), and she is past president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, the American Anthropological Association and the Paleopathology Association. She is also president of the Center for American Archeology. Dr. Buikstra has received the Pomerance Award for Scientific Contributions to Archaeology by the Archaeological Institute of America (2005), the T. Dale Stewart Award by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (2008), the Charles R. Darwin Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2008), the Eve Cockburn Award for Service from the Paleopathology Association (2011), an honorary Doctor of Science Degree from Durham University (UK), ( 2014), and The Lloyd Cotsen Prize for Lifetime Achievement in World Archaeology (2016).

About the Penn Museum

The Penn Museum (the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 350 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage.

The Penn Museum is located at 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (on Penn's campus, across from Franklin Field). The Penn Museum can be found on the web at For general information call 215.898.4000.



Jill DiSanto, Public Relations Director