Carol Ward, PhD

Curator's Professor

Pathology and Anatomical Sciences


573-882-0858 (office)
573-882-8909 (lab)

Websites: Ward Lab @ Mizzou | West Turkana Paleo Project


  • B.Sc. Anthropology and Zoology, University of Michigan
  • Ph.D. Functional Anatomy and Evolution, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Academic Appointment & Affiliations

  • 2011-present: Director of Anatomical Sciences, Dept. of Pathology & Anatomical Sciences, University of Missouri School of Medicine
  • 2014-present: Curator’s Professor, Dept. of Pathology & Anatomical Sciences, University of Missouri School of Medicine
  • 2007-present: Professor, Dept. of Pathology & Anatomical Sciences, University of Missouri School of Medicine
  • 2013-present: Adjunct Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Missouri
  • 2014-present: Research Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins, Arizona State University
  • 2009-present: Research Associate, Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witswatersrand
  • 1996-present: Research Affiliate, National Museums of Kenya
  • 1990-present: Research Associate, Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Dr. Ward is interested in the evolution of humans and our closest relatives, apes and monkeys. Her research focuses on fossils from East and South Africa, primarily Kenya. She takes a mechanical approach to the interpretation of the postcranial skeleton, and uses these principles to reconstruct the behavior of extinct animals. Her overall research goal is to understand human origins.

Dr. Ward’s current areas of research involve fieldwork in Kenya searching for Pliocene fossil hominins. She is co-director of the West Turkana Paleontology Project through the National Museums of Kenya with Drs. Fredrick Kyalo Manthi and J. Michael Plavcan, and is currently working at Kanapoi, Kenya. She is also studying a great radiation of apes that lived in the early Miocene (about 18 million years ago). She is studying the evolution of their postcranial body plan, particularly the torso, to reconstruct their locomotor behaviors and the evolutionary history of the apes. She is working on a new fossil pelvis of the last Miocene ape Rudapithecus hungaricus, and applying novel 3D CAD non-landmark based quantitative analyses to compare its form with those of modern primates using 3D laser surface scan data in collaboration with Drs. David Begun, Laszlo Kordos and Mike Plavcan.

Ward is preparing a monograph for Oxford University Press on the postcranial fossils of early hominids dated from 2.0-1.5 Ma from Koobi Fora, Kenya, and using the 3D laser scan data to study their morphology, variation and evolution. Dr. Ward is currently collaborating with orthopedic surgeons and engineers to use 3D image analysis and finite element modeling to improve orthopedic instrumentation.


  • ape and human evolution
  • locomotion
  • functional morphology
  • vertebral anatomy
  • mechanics

Representative Publications

  1. 2015 Ward CV, Feibel CS, Hammond AS, Leakey LN, Moffett EA, Plavcan JM, Skinner MM, Spoor F & MG Leakey. Associated ilium and femur from Koobi Fora, Kenya, and postcranial diversity in early Homo. Journal of Human Evolution 81: 48-67.
  2. 2014 Ward CV, Tocheri MW, Plavcan JM, Brown FH & Manthi FK. An Early Pleistocene third metacarpal from Kenya and the evolution of modern human-like hand morphology. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111: 121-124.
  3. 2013 Arnone JC, El-Gizawy AS, Crist BD, Della Rocca GJ & Ward CV. Computer-aided engineering approach for parametric investigation of locking plate systems. Journal of Medical Devices 7(2):021001-021001-8.
  4. 2013 Ward CV, Plavcan JM & Manthi FK. New fossils of Australopithecus anamensis from Kanapoi, West Turkana, Kenya (2003-2008). Journal of Human Evolution 65: 501-524.
  5. 2012 Ward CV, Kimbel WH, Johanson DC & Rak Y. New postcranial fossils attributed to Australopithecus afarensis from Hadar, Ethiopia. Journal of Human Evolution 63: 1-51.
  6. 2011 Ward CV, Kimbel WH & Johanson DC. Complete fourth metatarsal from Hadar, Ethiopia, and arches in the foot of Australopithecus afarensis. Science 331: 750-753.
  7. 2010 Ward CV, Plavcan JM & Manthi FK. Anterior dental evolution in the Australopithecus anamensis-afarensis lineage. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 365: 3333-3344.