Pilbrow laboratory: Physical (biological) anthropology

Research Overview

View Dr Varsha's latest publications listing here

For further information on Dr Varsha's research please also visit:

  • 3D Printing Showcase 2015 interview here (YouTube)
  • "Brought to Life, 2000 Years Later" here (Pursuit)

How humans evolved is a question that fascinates lay people and scientists alike. The question is often seeped in controversy, in large part because fossil remains for humans are rare and consist primarily of craniodental elements that fossilize well.

A major question then is: how much reliance can be placed on observations from such scant evidence for reconstructing the evolutionary relationships among our fossil ancestors?

Research in our laboratory focuses on determining the importance of hard-tissue anatomy for studying human evolution. In particular, we study the evidence for gene flow, genetic admixture and evolutionary diversification through dental and skeletal morphology.

Research is conducted in the lab but also involves travel to museums around the world, and participation in palaeoanthropological and archaeological fieldwork in Africa, Europe and Asia.


Peter Mayall, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Marine Chkadua, PhD student

Natalie Langowski, PhD student

Julietta Capodistrias, Honours student


Dr. Chris Davey, Australian Institute of Archaeology

Prof. Terry Harrison, New York University

Prof. Nicky Kilpatrick, Department of Dentistry, The Royal Children’s Hospital

Georgian National Museum

Harry Brookes Allen, Museum of Anatomy and Pathology


2018 Telematics Trust Fund. Revealing Mummies: The Inside Story

2016 Learning and Teaching Initiatives. Slice it, see it, learn it: Simulating cross-sectional anatomy of the head

2016 Near Eastern Archaeology Fund. Dietary isotopes in Mtskheta

2015 Research Product Realisation Working Group 3D Printing Mini Research Grants. Great Ape Dental Scoring System

2015 University of Melbourne CNRS. Characterisation of hypomineralised enamel (MIH) in ancient teeth: A way to understand a pathology with unknown aetiology

2012 ARC Discovery Project. Archaeology in the Central Caucasus: Investigations at Samatvro and Tchkantiskedi

2012 The Leakey Foundation General Research Grant. Non-metric dental traits in great apes

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD, Masters by Research, Honours, Master of Biomedical Science students to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Projects

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Biomedical Neuroscience, Cellular Imaging & Structural Biology

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Head of Laboratory Dr Varsha Pilbrow

Department / Centre

Anatomy and Neuroscience

Unit / Centre

Pilbrow laboratory: Physical (biological) anthropology

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