He was one of 159 new fellows and 26 foreign honorary members chosen in recognition of their distinguished contributions to science, scholarship, public affairs and the arts.
Walker studies human and primate evolution and pioneered studies of living primates as a basis for analysis of fossil forms. He was one of the first to use scanning electron microscope studies of enamel microwear on teeth to predict dietary adaptations of extinct mammals.
He has studied live Madagascan lemurs, live East African primates and excavated in England, Madagascar, Uganda and Kenya. His most recent work has been in Kenya's Turkana Basin at Allia Bay in conjunction with Meave Leakey. Walker and Leakey uncovered the remains of a hominid dated as 3.9 million years old to 4.2 million years old that clearly walked upright. They placed this hominid in a new species named Australopithecus anamensis.
Walker was editor, with Richard Leakey, of The Nariokotome Homo erectus Skeleton, and is co-author with P. Shipman and D. Bichell of Structure and Function of the Human Skeleton. He has just published a popular book on human origins, The wisdom of the Bones, written with Shipman.
He received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 1986; held a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship from 1988 to 1993; and received the Center for the Study of Evolution and the Origin of Life Distinguished Scientist Award in 1992.
Walker received a B.A. in natural sciences from Cambridge University in 1962 and a Ph.D. in anatomy and paleontology in 1967 from the University of London. He began his career as a lecturer in anatomy at Makerere University College in Kampala, Uganda, in 1965 and became a senior lecturer in anatomy at the University of Nairobi in 1969.
In 1973 he spent a year as visiting lecturer in the department of anatomy at Harvard University Medical School and then became associate professor of anatomy at Harvard Medical School; associate professor of anthropology, Harvard University; and research associate, Peabody Museum, Harvard University. In 1978 he became professor of cell biology and anatomy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He joined the faculty at Penn State in 1995 as professor of anthropology and biology.
The academy was founded in 1780 "to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity and happiness of a free, independent and virtuous people." Today the academy includes more than 4,000 fellows and foreign honorary members from a broad range of geographic, professional and cultural backgrounds.
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