Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Zeder, Melinda A.
Location Smithsonian Institution
Primary Field Anthropology
Secondary Field Human Environmental Sciences
 Election Citation
Zeder is a leading authority on the initial domestication of animals, world-wide, and on the origins and diffusion of agriculture in the Near East. Bridging the social and biological sciences, her innovative and broadly interdisciplinary syntheses provide a powerful new framework of understanding for a major transition in human history.
 Research Interests
Zeder's research focuses on the interaction between humans and animals with a particular focus on the processes leading up to animal domestication and the social and environmental impacts agriculture in the ancient Near East. Her early research traced the development of specialized pastoralism as part of the emergence of urban society in highland Iran. She has gone on to study the social and environmental impacts of the agro-pastoral economies in Northern Mesopotamia from the introduction of domesticates through the rise and fall of the first urban societies. Recently, her research has focused on developing analytical methods for tracing the transition from hunting to herding. Her research also draws on evolutionary biology, in particular niche construction theory, in the construction of explanatory frameworks for the domestication of plants and animals. Her work brings together genetics, animal sciences, and archaeology to understand the mechanisms behind animal domestication and the different pathways animals and their human partners traveled into domestication.

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