Eugène Dubois rotating Chair

The Eugène Dubois rotating Chair was established at Maastricht University by the Eugène Dubois Foundation for a term of one year each time. Candidates for the Chair have the ability to promote interdisciplinary thinking and to communicate with a large audience. The appointed Chair will be hosted in two different faculties for one year each time, thereby encouraging interdisciplinarity. One of these faculties will always be the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences.

2019: José Joordens

Trained as a marine biologist, Professor José Joordens first had a career as applied scientist and consultant in coastal ecology until she decided to go back into science and study the evolution of hominins. The term “hominins” refers to species in the genus Homo, and our extinct relatives back to the split from the apes about 5-7 million years ago. She completed her PhD in Earth and Life Sciences (VU University Amsterdam) in 2011, worked as researcher at the Faculty of Archaeology (Leiden University) from 2010-2017, and until January 2018 at the Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam. In April 2019, José Joordens was appointed as special professor on the “Naturalis Dubois Chair in Hominin Paleoecology and Evolution” at Maastricht University. In her research she combines the fields of biology, geology and archaeology. (source: Naturalis)

2018: Katarina Harvati

Professor Katarina Harvati was appointed Eugène Dubois chair for 2018. Professor Harvati was born in Athens, trained as an anthropologist in New York and has held the Palaeoanthropology chair position at the University of Tübingen in Germany for nearly a decade.

Harvati’s scientific status can be deduced in part from the awards and recognitions she has been given, but also from her track record in the field of external funding: in 2016 she won a prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant from the European Community. Harvati holds several positions in addition to her role as professor at the University of Tübingen. Perhaps most notably is her role as principal investigator in the ‘Words, Bones, Genes, Tools: Tracking Linguistic, Cultural and Biological Trajectories of the Human Past’ at the DFG Center for Advanced Studies, which demonstrates her focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and makes her perfect for the role of Eugène Dubois chair.

Professor emeritus Joep Geraedts is pleased with Harvati’s appointment. ‘I am extremely happy because of Professor Katerina Harvati’s extensive interest and experience on the one hand, and her expertise in the field of Neanderthal evolution on the other. The extinction of early modern man, which she will speak about, is a fascinating topic that will generate considerable interest.’

2017: Carel van Schaik

Professor Carel van Schaik (1953) was appointed the 2017 Eugène Dubois chair at Maastricht University. He is the third professor to hold this rotating chair position. As an evolutionary and behavioural biologist, Van Schaik is interested in primates in general and in Sumatran orangutans more specifically. He is the author of Red Apes and the Rise of Human Culture and co-author of The Good Book of Human Nature, which he published last year with Kai Michel. This book, which has been published in Dutch, German and English, interprets the Bible from a biological and anthropological perspective.

‘It’s fantastic that Carel van Schaik was appointed the new Eugène Dubois professor,’ says Dr Joep Geraedts, professor emeritus of Genetics and Cell Biology. ‘He’s not only an expert on the evolution of orangutans and other great apes, his book The Good Book of Human Nature also offers an entirely new perspective on the evolution of the Bible.’

2016: Mark Stoneking

Mark Stoneking (1956) was appointed the Eugène Dubois professorial chair holder for 2016. This rotating chair position was previously held by Prof. Frans de Waal. Mark Stoneking was born in Oregon (USA). He studied anthropology and genetics and wrote the first textbook on molecular anthropology.

Professor Stoneking focuses on different aspects of human evolution. The origins of modern man and his global migration patterns are of particular interest to him. In 1987, Stoneking, his supervisor Allan Wilson and fellow researcher Rebecca L. Cann contributed to the Out of Africa theory by introducing the concept of the Mitochondrial Eve, the matrilineal most recent common ancestor of all living humans.

After obtaining his doctorate from the University of California in 1986, Stoneking worked as professor of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University. He then went to Munich as a guest professor before being appointed division leader of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and an honorary professor of Biological Anthropology at the University of Leipzig in 1999.

2015: Frans de Waal

The Dutch primatologist and ethologist Prof. Frans de Waal was the first professor to be appointed to the annually rotating Eugène Dubois Chair. De Waal was present in Maastricht for a few weeks in the course of 2015 to contribute to the education and research programmes of both faculties. In 2015, the second party of the chair was the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience.

Biologist and writer Frans de Waal, born 1948 in ’s Hertogenbosch, earned his PhD in 1977 from Utrecht University under behavioural biologist Professor Jan van Hooff with a study on aggression and cooperation among monkeys. Since 1981, De Waal has worked in the United States. He is currently a professor at Emory University in Atlanta (Georgia) and director of the Living Links Center of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, where research is carried out on non-human primates.

Frans de Waal is a successful writer of scientific non-fiction for a wide audience. In his latest book, ‘The Bonobo and the Atheist’, he looks at human behaviour through the eyes of a biologist and discusses the extent to which God and religion are necessary for humans to exhibit moral behaviour. In 2007, he was listed in the ‘TIME 100: The People Who Shape Our World’, TIME Magazine’s annual publication of the top one hundred most influential people in the world.

Frans de Waal accepted his nomination with a public lecture on 3 October 2014, entitled ‘The measure of all things? Ape and Human Cognition’. In this lecture, given in Dutch, De Waal shared examples from his own work and from the research of others to show how people have tried, and are still trying, to show differences in the cognition of humans and apes, but without much success.