Darren Curnoe – About

Darren SmallDr Darren Curnoe is a palaeoanthropologist and archaeologist specialising in the study of human evolution, Pleistocene hunter-gatherer ecology and archaeological science.

He is also a former journalist and a regular science communicator who works across diverse platforms to reach a wide public audience. Dr Curnoe describes his interest in human evolution as being founded in “an insatiable curiosity for understanding the kind of creature we are and how we came to be this way”.

(Image: Brendan Daniel, 2019)

He also believes passionately that science isn’t complete until it has been communicated to the wider community; the real stakeholders in science. Therefore, he has made writing, broadcasting and making films about science, especially human origins and prehistory, a major focus of his career.

See Dr Curnoe’s Google Scholar, UNSW Research Gateway, ORCID ID,  Research Gate and Microsoft Academic profiles for a list of many of his scientific articles and some metrics summarising the impact of his research. Of the 41 research articles authored by him listed on Altmetric, 30 percent of them are in the top 5 percent of all research output scores by Altmetric.

He has reached tens of millions of people internationally over the last few years through his science outreach activities and media coverage of his research. His writing for The Conversation, for example, has been widely reprinted globally and has a total readership of almost 6 million unique readers. Dr Curnoe is a former columnist for The Conversation and Cosmos magazine and has been a regular contributor to ABC ScienceHe has appeared in the media more than 2,000 times as a science commentator or as part of media coverage of his own research.

Dr Curnoe trained in palaeoanthropology (the study of ‘ancient humans’), archeology, geology and biology at the Australian National University. He received his PhD in 2000, under the supervision of the late Dr Alan Thorne, and then completed a postdoctoral research fellowship with the late Professor Phillip Tobias at the University of the Witwatersrand (2002) in South Africa.

He has worked at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney since late 2002, first in the Faculty of Medicine (2002-2008) and then in the Faculty of Science (since 2009). Dr Curnoe is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at UNSW and a Chief Investigator in the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH). He is also an Honorary Professor in the Yunnan Institute for Cultural Relics and Archaeology and Southeast Asia Archaeology Research Centre (Kunming, China).

Dr Curnoe has published 200 publications, comprising peer reviewed scientific journal articles and book chapters, conference papers and other contributions to scientific journals, and popular science articles. He also written and presented a 12-part YouTube video series and 22-part Facebook video series for a public audience and been scientific advisor and the main on-camera talent for a major TV documentary about his work in China.

His research has been published in high quality journals like Science Advances, PNAS, Nature Scientific Reports, Journal of Archaeological Science and Journal of Human Evolution, and has been cited more than 2,100 times (H-index 24),  according to Google Scholar.

Dr Curnoe currently directs field based and/or laboratory research projects in palaeoanthropology and archaeology in China and Malaysia. His research focuses mostly on understanding the late phases of human evolution through excavations at archaeological sites and by investigating ancient human skeletons using traditional anthropological methods as well as through collaborative research employing stable isotope analysis, palaeoproteomics and ancient DNA approaches.

He is also working closely with several museums in Asia (Sri Lanka and Malaysia) to help develop systems and policies and train staff for managing and researching collections of human remains.