Dr. Joel D. Irish

Dr. Joel Irish
Job Title Professor
Telephone +44 (0)151 231 2387 (Office)
+44 (0)151 231 2290 (Lab)
+44 (0)151 231 2338 (Fax)
Email Address @ljmu.ac.uk


Contact Address

Research Centre in Evolutionary Anthropology and Palaeoecology
School of Natural Sciences and Psychology
Room 440
James Parsons Bldg
Byrom St.
L3 3AF


I am a bioarchaeologist with extensive academic and applied experience in dental anthropology, human Osteology, and paleopathology. I also have a strong background in prehistoric archaeology, having been involved in >30 seasons of archaeological and bioarchaeological fieldwork in the U.S., Europe, and Africa. A principal area of research involves a biocultural approach to the Upper Pleistocene through modern peopling of Africa, with a concentration on dental morphometric data to understand population origins, biological affinities, migration, and diachronic adaptation. I have assembled a large database of dental and osseous morphometric variants (313 variables in >5,000 individuals), recorded in North and sub-Saharan African samples from institutions throughout the world. Though concentrating on Upper Pleistocene through recent groups, I also apply this approach to Plio-Pleistocene hominins including, most recently, Australopithecus sediba in conjunction with colleagues from South Africa, the U.S., and France. Because of this and other research I have 2 co-edited books, one co-authored book, >60 peer-reviewed articles in professional journals and edited volumes, >70 presentations at regional, national, and international meetings, and various manuscripts under review or in progress.


With reference to academic background, I have nearly 20 years of full time experience in teaching and advising at the university level. I have taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses prior to joining LJMU, including: Introduction to Biological Anthropology, Human Biology, Paleoanthropology, Human Osteology, Analytical Techniques, Dental Anthropology, Human Genetics, and Proseminar in Physical Anthropology. In teaching I often incorporate a four-field approach, where appropriate, to present a more holistic picture. I am currently module leader for NAT6019 Advanced Forensic Anthropology at LJMU.

Beyond teaching, I have advised hundreds of students, served on >30 graduate committees in the U.S. and Europe, and at present am/was the Chair of 11 M.A. and nine Ph.D. student committees.


  • Lee Berger
  • Jose Braga
  • Eric Crubezy
  • Renee Friedman
  • Darryl de Ruiter
  • Jacek Kabacinski
  • Michal Kobusiewicz
  • Scott Legge
  • Katina Lillios
  • Alan Morris
  • Greg C. Nelson
  • Ben Potter
  • Sandro Salvatori
  • Romauld Schild
  • G. Richard Scott
  • Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg
  • Christy G. Turner II
  • Donatella Usai
  • Roxie Walker


  • 1993 Ph.D., Arizona State University, Biological Anthropology.
  • 1984 M.S., Minnesota State University, Mankato, Anthropology (Continuing Studies Program).
  • 1980 B.S., Minnesota State University, Mankato, Anthropology.

Prior Academic Experience:

  • 1998-2012 Department Chair (2007-2012).
  • Professor & Curator of Biological Anthropology (2007-2012).
  • Associate Professor & Curator of Biological Anthropology (2002-2007).
  • Assistant Professor & Curator of Biological Anthropology (1998-2002).
  • Department of Anthropology and UAF Museum of the North, University of Alaska Fairbanks.
  • 2000 Visiting Faculty: Combined Prehistoric Expedition Field School for Egyptian Antiquities Inspectors, Nabta Playa, Egypt. February 19-24. Fred Wendorf, Field School Director.
  • 1999 Visiting Professor: Scuola estiva "Biologia Scheletrica e Antropologia Dentale" (1a Edizione). Organized by Università di Roma "La Sapienza" e Soprintendenza Archeologica per il Lazio. Tivoli, Italy. Member of a team of visiting professors: George Armelagos, Robert Corruccini, Alan Goodman, and Richard Meindl.
  • 1995-1998 Assistant Professor (Vstg.): Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
  • 1995 Faculty Associate: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA.
  • 1992-1995 Adjunct Professor/Faculty Associate: Department of Anthropology, Arizona State University, Tempe.

Areas of Research Specialization:

  • Bioarchaeology
  • Dental anthropology
  • Human origins and affinities
  • Human skeletal biology
  • Human adaptation and variation
  • Human paleopathology
  • Computer & statistical applications,microtaxonomy
  • North and sub-Saharan Africa

Selected Service Activities:

  • 2007-present Chair: Career Development Committee, American Association of Physical Anthropologists.
  • 2006-present ESF Pool of Referees: European Science Foundation, Strasbourg, France.
  • 2003-present Editorial Board Member: International Journal of Dental Anthropology.
  • 2008-2012 Associate Editor: American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
  • 1998-2012 Forensic Anthropology Consultant: For Fairbanks Police Department, Alaska State Troopers, and State of Alaska Office of Public Advocacy.
  • 1999-2011 Associate Editor: Anthropological Papers of the University of Alaska. Fairbanks, AK.
  • 2004-2010 Executive Board Member: Dental Anthropology Association.
  • 2002-2004 President: Dental Anthropology Association.
  • 1992-1995 Secretary-Treasurer: Dental Anthropology Association.
  • 1990-1995 Co-Editor: Dental Anthropology Newsletter. Official publication of the Dental Anthropology Assoc.


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