Discovery is in her genes: ASU anthropologist elected to National Academy of Sciences

May 4, 2016

Anne C. Stone is something of a renaissance woman when it comes to anthropology. Using her specialty of anthropological genetics, she explores a spectrum of subjects that relate to everything from our health to the understanding of our own human identity. Currently, her Laboratory of Molecular Anthropology is working on a number of projects, including research into the evolutionary history of tuberculosis, the population history of the Caribbean and chimpanzee population history.

Throughout her career Stone has had some notable breakthroughs. Dr. Anne Stone ASU professor and anthropological geneticist Anne C. Stone. Download Full Image

For example, her research into Y chromosome variation in chimpanzees supported early mitochondrial DNA evidence that this species is more genetically diverse than humans.

More recently, Stone collaborated with paleogeneticist Johannes Krause of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History to uncover evidence that prehistoric tuberculosis in the Americas was transmitted to humans by seals, and that the jump into humans came more recently than previously thought — 3,000 to 6,000 years ago.

This level of accomplishment isn’t surprising coming from a woman whose dissertation research involved one of the earliest and largest ancient DNA analyses of a prehistoric community.

In recognition of her impressive — and quickly growing — body of work, this week Stone was elected by her peers to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the world’s most prestigious organizations of scholars. Created by an Act of Congress in 1863 and honoring “distinguished and continuing achievements in regular research,” the NAS boasts such esteemed past and present members as Franz Boas, Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein.

Stone joins 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 14 nations as newly minted 2016 members.

“It is a great honor and quite a surprise to be elected,” Stone said. “I am humbled and very appreciative of all the great students and mentors that I have had over the years.”

Like her research subjects, Stone’s field of study has been shaped by evolution. She began as a biology and archaeology double major before being drawn to evolutionary anthropology. In her first year of graduate school, she became interested in the new field of ancient DNA and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, Stone works closely with her graduate students to help them chart their own academic and professional paths by providing invaluable guidance and unique hands-on learning opportunities in her lab.

Anthropology doctoral student Genevieve Housman is studying how skeletal-tissue DNA methylation patterns vary within and between nonhuman primate species. She has also worked with Stone on tuberculosis and peopling of the Americas projects.

Housman said, “Designing and initiating these research endeavors has had its ups and downs, and Dr. Stone has supported me through it all. I’m especially grateful for her prompt and helpful responses to all of my frantic late-night emails and phone calls.”

That sentiment is echoed by fellow doctoral student Maria Nieves Colon, who calls Stone “an amazing mentor and role model.”

She explained, “She is always present for her students and postdocs, never too busy to answer our emails or meet with us when we need her. At the same time she encourages our independence, lets us make our own decisions and allows us to learn at our own pace. She has encouraged a true community within her lab where we all work together to solve research problems, support each other when we fail or make mistakes and celebrate each other's successes.”

In the wake of Stone’s election to the NAS, several of her colleagues have commented on the significance of her work and her suitability for an organization that advises the U.S. on science and technology matters and promotes scientific discovery in our nation.

“Anne is an ideal addition to the NAS,” said Regents’ Professor Jane Buikstra, also an NAS member. “She’s accomplished in many scholarly arenas, is a brilliant researcher and is a model collaborator and mentor. Her presence in the academy brings luster to the organization as it also well represents the excellence of the ASU faculty.”

Added Alexandra Brewis Slade, director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, “Dr. Stone’s research is energetic and important. It is tackling some of the most concerning reemerging infectious diseases, like leprosy and tuberculosis. Its brilliance is in the ways it creatively integrates a wide array of genetic data from past and present human societies, and other mammal species, to tell the story of not only where we and our diseases come from, but also where things are headed next.”

Stone is the director of the Center for Bioarchaeological Research and the associate director of the ASU Center for Evolution and Medicine. She is faculty in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and affiliated with the School of Life Sciences and the Institute of Human Origins.

Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change


18 universities join Carnegie-Knight News21 voting rights investigation at ASU

May 5, 2016

Top journalism students from 18 universities will lead an investigation into voting rights as part of the 2016 Carnegie-Knight News21 national multimedia investigative reporting initiative.

Headquartered at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, News21 was established by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to demonstrate that college journalism students, under the direction of top journalism professionals, can produce innovative and deeply reported multimedia projects for a national audience. News21 News21 executive editor Jacquee Petchel (center), a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and ASU alumna, leads this year's investigation into voting rights. Download Full Image

Thirty-one students are part of this year’s project, which focuses on the political divide between citizens with significant voting power and those without, particularly in disadvantaged communities. The students participated in a spring seminar taught in person and via video conference by Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post and Cronkite’s Weil Family Professor of Journalism. This summer, they will work out of a state-of-the-art newsroom at the Cronkite School in downtown Phoenix and travel the country to report and produce their stories.

“We chose voter access and participation for this year’s News21 project in a national election year to investigate why groups of citizens, including Latinos, African-Americans and millennials, are still under-represented among U. S. voters,” Downie said.

Previous national News21 projects have dealt with topics ranging from food safety to gun rights and regulations and the challenges facing veterans returning home from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last year’s project, which examined the trend toward legalization of marijuana in the U.S., was published by major media partners, including The Washington Post, USA Today,, the Center for Public Integrity and the E.W. Scripps Co., plus a number of nonprofit online news sites affiliated with the Institute for Non-Profit News.

This year, News21 is returning to a topic students first tackled in 2012 when they conducted the most exhaustive study ever of American election fraud.

“With each project, we look for new ways to push News21 to the forefront with an original presentation that provides both an investigative and an immersive experience,” said News21 executive editor Jacquee Petchel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who headed investigations at the Houston Chronicle before coming to the Cronkite School. “So this year, innovative storytelling will be paramount as we explore untapped data, VR/360 visuals and the latest in digital tools and graphics.”

News21 projects have won numerous awards, including four EPPY Awards from Editor & Publisher magazine, the first Student Edward R. Murrow Award for video excellence and a host of honors by the Society of Professional Journalists and the Hearst Awards Program, considered the Pulitzer Prizes of collegiate journalism.

Fellows are selected for the highly competitive, paid summer fellowships based on nominations submitted by journalism deans and directors from across the country as well as how they perform in the spring seminar, during which they prepare by deeply immersing themselves in the topic.

In addition to ASU, the universities participating in the 2016 News21 program are Elon University, Florida International University, Hampton University, Kent State University, Louisiana State University, St. Bonaventure University, Syracuse University, Texas Christian University, University of British Columbia, University of Florida, University of Maryland, University of Nevada, Reno; University of North Texas, University of Oklahoma, University of Oregon, University of Tennessee and University of Texas at Austin.

This year’s fellows are:

  • Lily Altavena, ASU
  • Alex Amico, Syracuse University
  • Alejandra Armstrong, ASU
  • Lian Bunny, St. Bonaventure University
  • Elizabeth Campbell, Texas Christian University
  • Andrew Clark, University of Oklahoma
  • Nicole Cobler, University of Texas at Austin
  • Courtney Columbus, ASU
  • Hillary Davis, ASU
  • Sami Edge, University of Oregon
  • Erin Fox, ASU
  • Max Garland, Elon University
  • Taylor Gilmore, University of Tennessee
  • Natalie Griffin, University of Maryland
  • Marianna Hauglie , ASU
  • Sean Holstege, ASU
  • Pinar Istek, University of Texas at Austin
  • Phillip Jackson, Hampton University
  • Roman Knertser, Syracuse University
  • Mike Lakusiak, University of British Columbia
  • Emily Mahoney, ASU
  • Jimmy Miller, Kent State University
  • Emily Mills, Kent State University
  • Michael Olinger, University of Nevada, Reno
  • Pamela Ortega, University of Oklahoma
  • Kathryn Peifer, ASU
  • Jeffrey Pierre, Florida International University
  • Sarah Pitts, University of Oklahoma
  • Amber Reece, University of North Texas
  • Ali Schmitz, University of Florida
  • Rose Velazquez, Louisiana State University

News21 fellows are supported by their universities as well as a variety of foundations and philanthropists. The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation supports the three University of Oklahoma fellows as well as three fellows — Altavena, Armstrong and Holstege — from ASU.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation supports Columbus, Hauglie and Peifer of ASU, and the Hearst Foundations supports the fellowships of Davis and Fox, both from ASU. Louis A. “Chip” Weil provided the support for ASU’s Mahoney.

Olinger from the University of Nevada, Reno, is supported by the Fred W. Smith Chair at UNR. Reece from the University of North Texas is supported by The Dallas Morning News. The Diane Laney Fitzpatrick Fellowship supports Miller from Kent State University, and the David Dix Fellowship supports Mills from Kent State University.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation: Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

The Carnegie Corporation of New York: The Carnegie Corporation of New York, which was established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 "to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding," is one of the oldest, largest and most influential American grant-making foundations. The foundation makes grants to promote international peace and to advance education and knowledge

The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation: The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, headquartered in Oklahoma City, was founded by Edith Kinney Gaylord, the daughter of Daily Oklahoman Publisher E.K. Gaylord. Ms. Gaylord created the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation in 1982 to improve the quality of journalism by supporting research and creative projects that promote excellence and foster high ethical standards in journalism.

Hearst Foundations: The Hearst Foundations are national philanthropic resources for organizations and institutions working in the fields of education, health, culture and social service. Their goal is to ensure that people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to build healthy, productive and inspiring lives. The charitable goals of the Foundations reflect the philanthropic interests of William Randolph Hearst.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation: The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, it has committed more than $115 million nationwide through its journalism program.

Louis A. “Chip” Weil: Weil served as president and chief executive officer for Central Newspaper Inc., which owned The Arizona Republic. Prior to becoming CEO, he was president and publisher of the Detroit News and publisher of Time magazine. Weil and his wife Daryl established the Weil Family Professorship at the Cronkite School.

Communications manager, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication