Professor Brace received his B.A. degree in Geology from Williams College (1952), and his M.A. (1958) and Ph.D. (1962) in Anthropology from Harvard University. Professor Brace joined the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology and Department of Anthropology in 1967, as Associate Curator of Human Osteology and Associate Professor of Anthropology. He progressed through the ranks, becoming Professor and Curator in 1971, and retired from the University in June 2008.
Loring Brace is a leading scholar in biological anthropology, with research interests spanning from our species’ earliest evolution through modern scientific understandings of race. Throughout his distinguished career, Brace has been a consistent advocate for the application of a Darwinian perspective to major questions in biological anthropology, a perspective made manifest in more than 190 academic publications. Loring’s early work explored the number of species of early humans in the fossil record, and has championed the view that the Neanderthals are ancestral to modern humans. He pioneered the use of quantitative metric data to investigate human evolutionary relationships, with a particular interest in understanding how changes in culture have affected human anatomy over the past two million years. He has explored these questions through research on museum specimens in Europe, China, Japan, Indonesia, and the United States. Professor Brace has been a strong and important voice in critiquing and challenging simplistic biological notions of race, most recently in his 2005 book Race is a Four-Letter Word (Oxford University Press). These and other accomplishments were honored in 2006 when the American Association of Physical Anthropologists presented Professor Brace with its prestigious Charles Darwin lifetime achievement award. Along with his important contributions to scholarship and teaching, Dr. Brace had devoted himself to communicating with a broader public, by publishing in popular media and through public debates with proponents of creationism and intelligent design. In this, he is both an advocate and an exemplar for the importance of public engagement by leading scientists.