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Happy Accidents: Asperger, Einstein, and the Great Apes

Dean Falk

Evolutionary Anthropologist (Paleoneurology)

Hale G. Smith Professor of Anthropology

Distinguished Research Professor



In this episode, Dean Falk shares her passion for the advancement of evolutionary anthropology. Whether she’s learning how to get crafty from the great apes, fighting battles in academic cancel-culture, or mapping Einstein's brain, Falk's fruits of wisdom and happy accidents embody the true nature of her work: the celebration and understanding of ever-evolving human life.


Dr. Dean Falk is an American evolutionary anthropologist. She is the Hale G. Smith Professor of Anthropology and a Distinguished Research Professor at Florida State University. She is also the Senior Scholar at the School for Advanced Research (SAR) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Falk's research emphasizes the evolution of the brain and cognition (paleoneurology), and the combined origin of language, music, and art. Her journey in research has led her to museums and appointments in scientific councils in parts of Africa, Europe and Asia. 

Falk was elected as a fellow of the American Anthropological Association (1978) and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2000). In 2000, she was invited to be a member of the United States National Committee for the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (USNC/IUAES). From 2002 to 2008, Falk chaired the Department of Anthropology at Florida State University. 

Falk is an author and editor of many publications, including Finding Our Tongues: Mothers, Infants & the Origins of Language (2009) and The Fossil Chronicles: How Two Controversial Discoveries Changed Our View of Human Evolution (2011). Her most recently published book Geeks, Genes, and the Evolution of Asperger Syndrome (2018), which she co-wrote with her granddaughter Eve P. Schofield, explores the emergence and spread of Asperger syndrome. Popularized among her latest work is her research of the brain of a newly recognized human species, “Hobbit” (Homo floresiensis), and her description of the cerebral cortex of Albert Einstein.

Dr. Falk has been the recipient of a number of renowned research awards. She has received funding from both NIH and NSF and awards from the National Geographic Society, National Park Service, and more.