Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

Dr. Adam Powell

Kahlaische Strasse 10

07745 Jena


Dr. Adam Powell

Dr. Adam Powell

Dr. Adam Powell


  • +49 (0) 3641 686-824


Main Focus

Leader of the Gene-culture Coevolution Group

My group works on the interactions between human genetic and cultural evolutionary systems, integrating methods and data from population genetics, anthropology, archaeology, historical linguistics and quantitative history. Gene-culture coevolution is the comprehensive study of human evolutionary history, drawing from a range of disciplines to infer the uniquely human processes underlying the distribution of modern or ancient genetic variation. We develop simulation and statistical inference methods, including geographic and palaeoenvironmental modeling, to create a unified framework for human demographic inference.

Curriculum Vitae

  • BSc Mathematics, University of Exeter, UK (1999 to 2003)
  • PhD Population genetics "Demography and the evolution of genetic and cultural variation", Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, UCL, UK (2006 to 2010)
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, UCL Genetics Institute, UK (2010 to 2012)
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Palaeogenetics Group, Institute of Anthropology, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany (2013 to 2015)
  • Research Group Leader Gene-culture Coevolution, Departments of Archaeogenetics & Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany (2015– )

Selected publications:
  • Posth C, Renaud G, Mittnik A, Drucker DG, Rougier H, Cupillard C, Valentin F, Thevenet C, Furtwängler A, Wißing C, Franken M, Malina M, Bolus M, Lari M, Gigli E, Capecchi G, Crevecoeur I, Beauval C, Flas D, Germonpré M, van der Plicht J, Cottiaux R, Gély B, Ronchitelli A, Wehrberger K, Grigourescu D, Svoboda J, Semal P, Caramelli D, Bocherens H, Harvati K, Conard NJ, Haak W, Powell A* & Krause J* (2016) Pleistocene mitochondrial genomes suggest a single major dispersal of non-Africans and a Late Glacial population turnover in Europe. Current Biology 26(6): 827–833
  • Kandler A & Powell A (2015) Inferring learning strategies from cultural frequency data. In Learning strategies and cultural evolution during the Palaeolithic, edited by Mesoudi A & Aoki K. Springer: Replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans series.
  • Scheu A, Powell A, Bollongino R, Vigne J-D, Tresset A, Çakırlar C, Benecke N & Burger J (2015) The genetic prehistory of domesticated cattle from their origin to the spread across Europe. BMC Genetics 16: 54
  • Bollongino R, Nehlich O, Richards MP, Orschiedt J, Thomas MG, Sell C, Fajkosova Z, Powell A & Burger J (2013) 2,000 years of parallel societies in Stone Age Central Europe. Science 342: 479–481
  • Gavin MC, Botero CA, Bowern C, Colwell RK, Dunn M, Dunn R, Gray RD, Kirby KR, McCarter J, Powell A, Rangel TF, Stepp JR, Trautwein M, Verdolin JL & Yanega G (2013) Towards a mechanistic understanding of linguistic diversity. Bioscience 63(7): 524–535
  • Kamberov YG, Wang S, Tan J, Gerbault P, Wark A, Tan L, Yang Y, Li S, Tang K, Chen H, Powell A, Itan Y, Fuller D, Lohmueller J, Mao J, Schachar A, Paymer M, Hostetter E, Byrne E, Burnett M, McMahon AP, Thomas MG, Lieberman DE, Jin L, Tabin CJ, Morgan BA & Sabeti PC (2013) Modeling human evolution in mice: An adaptive variant of EDAR drives pleiotropic changes in mice and humans. Cell 152: 691–702
  • Bollongino R, Burger J, Powell A, Mashkour M, Vigne J-D & Thomas MG (2012) Modern Taurine Cattle descended from small number of Near-Eastern founders. Molecular Biology and Evolution 29(9): 2101–2104
  • Gerbault P, Liebert A, Itan Y, Powell A, Currat M, Burger J, Swallow DM & Thomas MG (2011) Evolution of lactase persistence: an example of human niche construction. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 366(1566): 863-877
  • Powell A, Shennan SJ, Thomas MG (2009) Late Pleistocene demography and the appearance of modern human behavior. Science 324: 1298–1301
  • Itan Y, Powell A, Beaumont MA, Burger J & Thomas MG (2009) The origins of lactase persistence in Europe PLoS Computational Biology 5: e1000491

Organizational Unit (Department, Group, Facility):

  • Department of Archaeogenetics
  • Dept. of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
loading content