I am a field archaeologist and an Associate Professor in the Anthropology Department and with the Turkana Basin Institute at Stony Brook University in the USA. Since I received my PhD in Archaeology from the University of Paris X, I have held research positions at the National Museums of Kenya, Stanford University, and have worked for 4 years as a tenured Research Scientist (currently on mobility) at the Laboratoire de Préhistoire et Technologie (UMR 7055) of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS); the largest governmental research organization in France and the largest science agency in Europe. I have conducted fieldwork and specialist lithic analysis for over 25 years, in France, Syria, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya. I became a member of the Mission Préhistorique au Kenya/West Turkana Archaeological Project in 1998 and have been Director of the project since 2012. I am a Research Associate, IFRA Nairobi, Institut Français de Recherche en Afrique, UMIFRE, USR 3336 CNRS.
My primary research interests revolve around the central theme of how, when and why stone tool making and use originated among hominins in the African Early Stone Age – now known to extend as far back as 3.3 million years ago, and possibly beyond. I specialise in the technological analysis of stone tools using the chaîne opératoire approach, to understand the spatial and temporal processes involved in the acquisition, elaboration, utilisation and discard of artefacts. This approach to lithic analysis was developed in France as a way to assess the level of cognitive development of our ancestors.
In addition to my research on the origins of hominin technology, I am working with my team to explore the biomechanics involved in the making and possible use of stone tools (hand motor control and functional morphology of the hand and wrist). I am also currently collaborating with primate archaeologists to investigate the central role that percussive activities such as pounding and battering might have played for hominins at the dawn of technology.