Spotlight: Anthropology professor Jonathan Marks

| September 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

Most students know professor Jonathan Marks as another anthropology teacher. However what many may not know is that Marks has had many accomplishments outside the classroom.

Marks began his undergraduate studies at Johns Hopkins University as a pre-medical biology student. After soon realizing he had no interest in medical school, Marks acknowledged that he was far more interested in studying bigger questions, such as who we are and where we come from.

Upon befriending a group of archaeologists, Marks discovered the field of Biological Anthropology in which he could utilize objective knowledge of biology and genetics to answer these subjective questions of interest.

Because Johns Hopkins did not provide anthropology studies at the time, Marks decided to travel back to his home town and attend the University of Arizona, which happens to have a world class anthropology department. It was here that Marks completed his discretion research on chromosomes of chimpanzees.

After obtaining a Master’s degree in genetics and a Master’s degree and PhD in anthropology, Marks continued to do his post-doctorate work on genetics at The University of California – Davis.

His education and hard work did wonders for his reputation, landing Marks in his first academic job: teaching at Yale University.

In 1997 he bid Yale farewell and began teaching at Berkeley University until 2000. UNC Charlotte caught wind of Marks during his time at Berkeley and decided he fit the bill.

In 2000, UNC Charlotte offered Marks a deal he could not decline.

In his decision, Marks understood fiscal reasoning is not always sound.

What really drew the professor in was the university’s massive growth rate, its outstanding Anthropology Department and the bustling city filled with opportunity. “Who wouldn’t want to be here?!” said Marks.

This year, Marks is on leave from his duties at Niner Nation and is a Templeton Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Notre Dame. Marks says during this time he won’t be teaching, but rather he will be “Thinking profound thoughts for a year.”

At the end of the year, Marks plans to write a book on his studies as a Templeton Fellow.

Since joining the UNC Charlotte family, Marks has been awarded the First Citizens Bank Scholars Medal. This award is given annually by the university to a single member of their research faculty.

What It Means To Be 98% Chimpanzee and Why I Am NOT  a Scientist are the newest of Marks’ four published books. The book on chimpanzees deals with identifying the genetic differentiation between humans and chimpanzees; his second book explored what the nature of scientific inquiry is all about.

Marks hopes to further extend these questions in a book he will soon begin writing to address specialized aspects of cultural genetics.

While most anthropologists travel to perform much of their research, Marks shared that most of his research has been done in labs with chimpanzee blood obtained from various zoos.In fact lately, his research has been library-based, focusing on the historical and philosophical sides of his work.

For any further information on Professor Jonathan Marks, his literary works or his research, you can visit and contact him through his blog at

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