Prof. Nicole Boivin

Research Group Leader

Curriculum Vitae

Nicole Boivin obtained her BSc in Cellular, Molecular and Microbial Biology from the University of Calgary in 1992. Surrendering to a long-term interest in archaeology, she later began graduate studies in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, earning an MPhil in 1996 and a PhD in 2001. Following post-doctoral fellowships in Cambridge and Paris, she took up a Senior Research Fellowship at the University of Oxford, where she was also a Fellow of Jesus College. From July 2016 to March 2022, she was director of the Department of Archaeology at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

Nicole Boivin’s archaeological research is multi-disciplinary, and cross-cuts the traditional divide between the natural sciences and humanities.  She has undertaken pioneering research in Asia and Africa, exploring a broad range of issues through field, laboratory, and theoretical applications – from human dispersals out of Africa in the Late Pleistocene, to the later emergence of long-distance trade and connectivity in the Indian Ocean. She is interested in human history over the long-term, and the broad patterns of migration, interaction and environmental manipulation that have shaped the human story. Her work seeks to explore the entanglement of biological, cultural, and ecological processes from prehistory to the present. She is committed to bringing information about the past to bear on contemporary challenges, and her research explores how archaeological data can inform present-day issues ranging from climate change and the Anthropocene to globalization, food security and migration.  

Nicole Boivin is author of Material Cultures, Material Minds: The Role of Things in Human Thought, Society and Evolution (2008, Cambridge University Press), and editor of several books, most recently Human Dispersal and Species Movements: From Prehistory to the Present (2017, Cambridge University Press) and Globalisation and the ‘People without History’: Understanding Contact and Exchange in Prehistory (Cambridge University Press, 2018). She has also published over 150 journal articles, including numerous papers in such high impact venues as Science and Science Advances, the Nature journals, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Her work has been extensively reported on in the international press.

Nicole Boivin has been awarded research funding from the European Research Council, National Geographic Society, Natural Environment Research Council UK, Australian Research Council, British Academy, and Arts and Humanities Research Council UK, amongst others prestigious organisations. She sits on the Editorial Advisory Boards of several journals, such as Anthropocene and the American Journal of Archaeology, as well as on the Scientific Advisory Boards of several organisations, including the Centre for Global Knowledge Studies at the University of Cambridge. Nicole Boivin is currently a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, holds an Honorary Professorship at the University of Queensland, and is an Affiliated Researcher at the University of Calgary and at the Smithsonian Institution.

She strives to create an equal, diverse and open research environment in her research group and to support progressive, transparent and anti-discriminatory policies in the Max Planck Society. She is open to inquiries from interested students and researchers.

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