2007 Student Poster Prize Recipient

Magdalena Muchlinski

Magdalena Muchlinski

With the exception of the first few months of my life, most of my childhood was spent abroad in countries such as Poland, the Philippines and Borneo. At a young age I was exposed to many of the variations of space, place and culture. Having a father who worked for an international civil engineering firm meant that our family traveled to many countries far from home. I believe my experiences in these countries, particularly the ones that involved orangutans and macaques in my sandbox, sparked my initial interest in physical anthropology.

Being raised by an architect and an engineer, the conversation at dinner frequently revolved around retaining walls and material pliability. I swore that I would not follow in my parents' footprints. I love animals and not construction material and design. My first drawings, or research notebook entries, as I like to call them, focused on the anatomy of the domesticated cat. Little did I know that these drawing indicated that the architect in me could not be silenced! Upon graduating from high school I attended the University of California, Santa Cruz and become actively involved in functional morphological research. I became fascinated by the architecture of nature and the engineers (ecology) shaping the "bauplaene" of animals.

I am now a Physical Anthropology graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, advised by Drs. Liza Shapiro and Chris Kirk. I am interested in how the selective pressures imposed by differences in feeding ecology shape the anatomy, physiology and evolution of early primates. My current research employs morphometric techniques to better understand how feeding behavior has influenced the somatosensory system of primates. My dissertation research has important implications for interpreting the fossil record. I have chosen to focus on early primate remains and the debate surrounding the evolutionary divergence of primates from other mammals (e.g., angiosperm co-evolution and nocturnal visual predation) for my dissertation. I hope to continue my functional morphological work upon graduating in May 2008. 

I was honored to receive the SVP Student Poster Prize. The 2007 meeting was my first introduction to the society, and I have to say...I have found my people. Although receiving the award was a highlight for me, it was the conversations I had with SVP members about current research that really made my participation this year memorable!  Because of the monetary award associated with the prize, I will now be able to continue these conversations in Columbus at the 2008 SVP meetings.

I would also like to thank my advisors, my partner Gary and my six "kids" (George, Ringo, John Winston, Bolan, Buster and Beatrice) for believing in me and my work. They really make me a happy and well balanced.


Photo courtesy of Magdalena Muchlinski.