Theodore Schurr

Professor of Anthropology

Office: Penn Museum, Room 432

Lab: Penn Museum, Room 421

Lab Website:


I am a Professor in the Department of Anthropology, a Consulting Curator in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, and the Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.

For over thirty years, I have investigated the genetic prehistory of Asia and the Americas through studies of mtDNA, Y-chromosome and autosomal DNA variationin Asian, Siberian and Native American populations. Our current projects include studies of genetic diversity in indigenous populations of Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. My research group is also exploring the population history of Georgia (Caucasus), Pakistan and Kazakhstan through our collaborative genetic studies in those countries. Other projects are investigating mitochondrial diseases in human populations as well as the role of the mtDNA in complex diseases, metabolism and adaptation.



B.S. University of Georgia, 1983; M.A. Emory University, 1996; Ph.D. Emory University 1998

Office Hours

By appointment; please contact me by email ( or office phone (215-573-7632) to set up a meeting

CV (file)

Research Interests

Subject areas: Human evolutionary genetics, mitochondrial biology and disease, biomedical genetics, ancient DNA, primate genetics; Geographic areas: Africa, Americas, Australia, Georgia (Caucasus), Melanesia, Siberia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Turkey

Selected Publications


Yardumian A, Schurr TG. 2024. The Peopling of the Caucasus: Early Human Settlement at the Crossroads of ContinentsCambridge: Cambridge University Press (In press).

Weber AW, Katzenberg MA, Schurr TG, editors. 2010. Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers of the Baikal Region, Siberia: Bioarchaeological Studies of Past Lifeways. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.



Gómez R, Schurr TG, Meraz-Ríos MA. 2021. Diversity of Mexican paternal lineages reflects evidence of 500 years of admixture. In: Muñoz Moreno ML, Crawford MH, editors. Human Migration: Biocultural Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Schurr TG. 2019. Where tides of genes perpetual ebb and flow: What DNA evidence tells us about the peopling of the Americas. In: Suarez R, Ardelean C, editors. People and Culture in Ice Age Americas: New Directions in Paleoamerican Archeology. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, pp. 220-243.

Schurr TG, Benn Torres J, Vilar MG, Gaieski JB, Melendez C. 2016. An emerging history of indigenous Caribbean and circum-Caribbean populations: Insights from archeological, ethnographic, genetic and historical studies. In: Zuckerman M, Martin DL, editors. New Directions in Biological Anthropology:Papers Honoring the Legacy of George Armelagos. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, pp. 385-402.



Gilmore JA, Ofunniyin AA, Oubré OL, Fleskes RE, Schurr TG. 2024. The dead have been awakened in the service of the living: Activist community-engaged archaeology in Charleston, SC. Amer Antiq (Accepted).

Schurr TG, Shengelia R, Shamoon-Pour M, Chitanava D, Laliashvili S, Laliashvili I, Kibret R. Kume-Kangolo Y, Akhvlediani I, Mathieson I, Yardumian A. 2023. Genetic analysis of Mingrelians reveals long-term continuity of populations in western Georgia (Caucasus). Genome Biol Evol evad198,

Pereson MJ, Sanabria DJ, Mojsiejczuk LN, Torres C, Liotta DJ, Campos RH, Schurr TG, Di Lello FA, Badano I. 2023. Evolutionary analysis of JC polyomavirus provides new insights into the diversity of Misiones’ population. Virology

Kralick A, O’Connell C, Bastian M, Hoke MK, Zemel BS, Schurr TG, Tocherig MW. 2023. Body size variation among adult males and its implications for aexual dimorphism in orangutans (Pongo spp.). Integr Comp Biol icad015,

Fleskes RE, Owsley DW, Cabana GS, Bruwelheide KS, Barc KG, Griffith DR, Schurr TG. 2023. Colonial period genomes provide insight into European Settlement, the African diaspora and genetic kinship in eastern North America. Curr Biol 33: 1–8.

Abdolahzedah A, Leader GM, Li L, Olszewski DI, Schurr TG. 2023. Heat exposed lithics: An experimental approach to quantifying potlids by temperature. J Archaeol SciReports 48: 103894.

Fleskes RE, Cabana GS, Gilmore JK, Suarez C, Karcher E, Oubré L, Ofunniyin AA, Schurr TG. 2023. Community engaged ancient DNA project reveals diverse origins of 18th century African descendants in Charleston, South Carolina. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 120(3):3 e2201620120.

Kristjansson D, Jugessur A, Schurr TG, Bohlins J. 2022. Phylogeography of mitochondrial DNA haplogroup J in Scandinavia. Am J Biol Anthropol 1–18.

Askapuli A, Vilar MG, Garcia-Ortiz H, Zhabagin M, Sabitov Z, Akilzhanova A, Ramanculov E, Schamiloglu U, Martínez-Hernández A, Contreras-Cubas C, Barajas-Olmos F, Schurr TG, Zhumadilov Z, Flores-Huacuja M, Orozco L, Hawks J, Saitou N. 2022. Kazakh mitochondrial genomes provide insight into the human population history in Central Eurasia. PLoS ONE 7(11): e0277771.

Kaneva K, Schurr TG, Tatarinova T, Buckley J, Merkurjev D, Triska P, Liu X, Done J, Maglinte DT, Deapen D, Hwang A, Schiffman J, Triche TJ, Biegel JA, Gai X. 2022. Mitochondrial DNA haplogroup, genetic ancestry and susceptibility to Ewing sarcoma. Mitochondrion 67:6-14. doi:

Liu Y-C, Hunter-Anderson R, Cheronet O, Eakin J, Camacho F, Pietrusewsky M, Rohland N, Ioannidis A, Athens JS, Douglas MT, Ikehara-Quebral RM, Bernardos R, Culleton BJ, Mah M, Adamski N, Broomandskhoshbacht N, Callan K, Lawson AM, Mandl K, Michel M, Oppenheimer J, Stewardson K, Zalzala F, Kidd K, Kidd J, Schurr TG, Auckland K, Hill AVS, Mentzer AJ, Quinto-Cortés CD, Robson K, Kennett DJ, Patterson N, Bustamante CD, Moreno-Estrada A, Spriggs M, Vilar M, Lipson M, Pinhasi R, Reich D. 2022. Ancient DNA evidence reveals five streams of migrations into Micronesia and matrilocality in early Pacific seafarers. Science 377(6601): 27-29. DOI: 10.1126/science.abm6536

Kristjansson D, Bohlin J, Nguyen TT, Jugessur A, Schurr TG. 2022. Evolution and dispersal of mitochondrial DNA haplogroup U5 in northern Europe: Insights from an unsupervised learning approach to phylogeography. BMC Genomics 23: 354.

Abdolahzadeh A, McPherron SP, Sandgathe DM, Schurr TG, Olszewski DI, Dibble H. 2022. Investigating variability in the frequency of fire use in the archaeological record of Late Pleistocene Europe. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 14: 62.

Sanchez-Fernandez, C, Bolatti EM, Culasso ACA, Chouhy D, Kowalewski MM, Stella EJ, Schurr TG, Rinas MA, Liotta DJ, Campos RH, Giri AA, Badano I. 2022. Identification and evolutionary history of two novel papillomavirus sequences in New World monkeys (spp. Sapajus and Alouatta) from Argentina. Arch Virol Published 30 March 2022

Tariq M, Habib A, Hemphill BE, Farooq U, Schurr TG. 2022. Contrasting maternal and paternal genetic histories of five major ethnic groups of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Nature Sci Rep 12:1027.

Friedrich VK, Rubel M, Schurr TG. 2022. The role of mitochondrial genetic variation in human bioenergetics, adaptation, and adult disease. Am J Hum Biol 32: e23629

Totaro ME, Gili JA, Liotta DJ, Schurr TG, Picconi MA, Badano I. 2022. Genetic variation in the E6 and E7genes of human papillomavirus type 16 in northeasternArgentina. J Med Virol. 94:745‐751.

Kristjansson D, Bohlin J, Astanand J, Schurr TG. 2021. Matrilineal diversity and population history of Norwegians. Am J Phys Anthropol 176(1): 120–133.

Kornienko IV, Faleeva TG, Schurr TG, Aramova OY, Ochir-Goyaeva MA, Batieva EF, Vdovchenkov EV, Moshkov NE, Kukanova VV, Ivanov IN, Sidorenko YS, Tatarinova TV. 2021. Y-chromosome haplogroup diversity in Khazar burials from southern Russia. Russ J Genet 57: 477-488.

Gómez MR, Vilar MG, Meraz MA, Figueroa-Corona P, Véliz D, Zúniga G, Hernández EA, Figueroa-Corona P, Owings AC, Gaieski JB, Schurr TG, The Genographic Consortium. 2021. Y-chromosome diversity in Aztlan descendants and its implications for the history of Central Mexico. iScience 24: 102487.

Zimmerman KP, Schurr TG, Chen W-M, Nayak U, Mychaleckyj JC, Quet Q, Moultire LH, Divers J, Keene KL, Kamen DL, Gilkeson GS, Hunt KJ, Sprulli IJ, Fernandes JK, Aldrich MA, ReichD, Garvey WT, Langefeld CD, Sale MM, Ramos PS. 2021. Genetic landscape of Gullah African Americans. Am J Phys Anthropol 174(4): 905-919.

Ochir-Goryaeva MA, Kornienko IV, Faleeva TG, Aramova OY, Makhotkin MA, Kekeev EA, Burataev EG, Kukanova VV, Sidorenko YS, Chartier DR, Schurr TG, Tatarinova TV. 2021. Ancestry and identity in Catacomb culture burials: A meta-tale of graves, skeletons, and DNA. J Archeol Sci: Reports 7: 102894..

Fleskes RE, Ofunniyin AA, Gilmore J, Poplin E, Abel S, Juarez C, Bueschgen W, Butler N, Mishoe G, Oubré L, Cabana G, Schurr TG. 2021. Bioarcheological and genetic analysis of Anson Street burials and the legacy of slavery in Charleston, SC. Am J Phys Anthropol 175(1): 3-24.

Zubair M, Habib A, Hemphill BE, Schurr TG, Tariq M. 2020.Mitochondrial genetic diversity of the Khattak and Kheshgi tribes of Peshawar Valley, Pakistan. Genetica

Schurr TG. 2020. Host genetic factors and susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Am J Hum Biol 32:e23497.



Please contact me by email ( to request a copy of any of these publications.


Courses Taught

ANTH 0030: Introduction to Human Evolution

ANTH 1040: Sex and Human Nature

ANTH 1430: Explorations in Human Biology

ANTH 2440: Disease and Human Evolution

ANTH 2460: Molecular Anthropology

ANTH 2490: Evolutionary Medicine

ANTH 3360: The Peopling of the Americas

ANTH 4000: Research Seminar

ANTH 6020: Evolutionary Anthropology

ANTH 6550: Methods and Grant Writing for Anthropological Research

ANTH 7000: Colloquium Seminar



Anthropology Department Faculty; Department of Biology Graduate Group, University of Pennsylvania; Associate Member, Center for East Asian Studies, University of Pennsylvania; Member, CHOP Mitochondrial Research Affinity Group, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania; Research Associate, Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania; Member, International Center for Clinical Genetics, Kharkiv, Ukraine; Consortium Faculty, Penn Genomic Frontiers Institute; Consulting Curator, American and Physical Anthropology Sections, Penn Museum; Consortium Faculty, African Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania



Faculty Status