Christina Warinner named one of the Top 10 “Scientists to Watch” in 2017

The recipients, nominated by Nobel Laureates and members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, are chosen from all scientific fields.

October 04, 2017
Warinner conducting genetic investigations of archaeological dental calculus. This work requires dedicated ancient DNA laboratories and strict clean room conditions.

Christina Warinner, of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the University of Oklahoma, is featured in Science News’ SN10: Scientists to Watch, an annual list of ten up-and-coming scientists. The recipients of the award are nominated by Nobel Laureates and members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. This is the third annual SN10 in which Science News highlights 10 early- and mid-career researchers, from all scientific fields, on track to make the next big breakthroughs. Warinner’s story is available in the October 14 print edition of Science News, and is available online on October 4 at

Fossilized dental plaque (calculus) on the teeth of a middle-aged man from the Medieval site of Dalheim, Germany, ca. AD 1100.

For the past five years, Warinner’s research has focused on the evolution and changing ecology of the human microbiome, and in 2014 she published the first detailed metagenomic and metaproteomic characterization of the ancient human oral microbiome. In 2015, she published a seminal study on the identification of milk proteins in ancient dental calculus and the reconstruction of prehistoric European dairying practices. In the same year, she was also part of a research team that published the first South American hunter-gatherer gut microbiome and identified Treponema as a key missing ancestral microbe in the gut microbiome of industrialized societies. Later that year, she demonstrated that full mitochondrial genomes could be recovered from ancient dental calculus, and in 2016 she and her colleagues reconstructed the early population history of the Himalayas and published the first complete human genomes of ancient East Asians.

Her research has earned Honorable Mention for the Omenn Prize, an annual prize for the best article published on evolution, medicine and public health, and her ancient microbiome findings were named among the top 100 scientific discoveries of 2014 by Discover Magazine. She has presented before the Royal Society of London (2013), and on behalf of the Leakey Foundation at the California Academy of Sciences (2013) and the American Museum of Natural History (2016). She is a CARTA member (2016), a U.S. National Academy of Sciences Kavli Fellow (2014), and a TED Fellow (2012). 

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