Anthropology Alum Selected to Analyze Newly Discovered Homo naledi Fossils

Jill Scott

MCC alumna Jill Scott (Class of 2004) was among a group of about 30 international early-career scientists chosen to analyze skull remains from the Rising Star cave system in South Africa last year. She and her colleagues became the first people to study thousands of fossil fragments belonging to a newly discovered species in human ancestry, called Homo naledi. She also co-authored an article in the journal, e-Life.

Jill is currently living in Denver while she finishes writing her Ph.D. dissertation in anthropology through The University of Iowa. She plans to continue conducting anthropological research and teaching anthropology and anatomy at the post-secondary level.

She was inspired to pursue an anthropology career path after taking her first anthropology course -- Introduction to Anthropology -- with Judi Cameron, Ph.D. at MCC.

“It was a great overview of the four subfields of anthropology – cultural, physical, linguistic and archaeology – it showed me how broad the field of anthropology is and inspired me to major in it when I transferred to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,” Jill said.

She stayed in touch with her former instructor over the years and received moral support and career guidance.

“Dr. Cameron discussed with me the process of applying to grad school and she has helped me with my professional development,” Jill said, referring to teaching techniques, research methods and the importance of networking.

“MCC was a great option for me because it allowed me to pursue my undergraduate general education at an affordable price. The smaller class sizes and the emphasis that MCC places on teaching made it less intimidating to talk to and seek guidance from my instructors.”

At MCC, Jill participated in Phi Theta Kappa, which she said played a major role in her life, where she connected with honors students not only on campus, but across the country. She also was a member of the Honors Program, which allowed her and another student to participate in a week-long dinosaur paleontology dig in Montana with the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford. Through her mentor contacts at Burpee, she has been invited to give a talk about her involvement in the Homo naledi project at the Burpee Museum 2016 Paleofest symposium in March 2016.

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