Marquette biomedical sciences professor honored with Participating Faculty Research Award

July 19, 2021

claire kirchhoff headshotMILWAUKEE — Dr. Claire Kirchhoff, clinical associate professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Health Sciences at Marquette University, is the recipient of the 2021 Participating Faculty Research Award.

The Participating Faculty Research Award recognizes research or scholarship accomplishments of a non-tenure track faculty member at Marquette. An award of $3,000 is provided to the selected full-time participating faculty member based on their record of scholarly activity within the past five years.

The award is distributed based on the significance and innovation of the described program of research or scholarship as well as the broader impacts of the research.

Kirchhoff’s research in evolutionary biology offers context for the human experience ranging from reproductive strategies and aging to health disparities. Her work provides insight into primate and human behavior when it is most difficult to observe directly — such as fossil record, in critically- endangered species and for behaviors that are rare but important.

“Seemingly basic questions such as, ‘Why do we live in groups?’ and, ‘Why do we eat what we eat?’ provide a compelling framework for understanding human behavior,” Kirchhoff said. “We still debate the explanations for these questions.”

Kirchhoff uses skeletal analysis in comparative primatology to create narratives about primate life histories from an evolutionary perspective to examine the ultimate reasons for human behaviors.

“The productivity of Dr. Kirchhoff’s research viewed through her publications and funding success underscore the significance and relevance of her research program not only within her field of study but to a broader scientific audience,” wrote one nominator.

Kirchhoff’s research is funded by the National Science Foundation, and her latest collaborative grant was the highest-ranked submission to the NSF’s Biological Anthropology Program during that review period.

By inviting Marquette students to join her in her cutting-edge research, Kirchhoff also serves as a role model for many young aspiring scholars.

“My funding not only provides research experiences for undergraduates, but these students also allow my project to progress much further than if I were working alone,” Kirchhoff said.

Kirchhoff plans to use her award to continue supporting undergraduate research assistants.

“I came to Marquette because I’m from Milwaukee,” Kirchhoff added.  “I grew up in Sherman Park, and I’m proud to be an alumna of Milwaukee Public Schools, so MPS high school students have been the most involved with my outreach activities. I love working with all the students in my research group, and my dream is to recruit more amazing student scientists from Milwaukee and other urban, public school districts.”

About Shelby Williamson

Shelby Williamson

Shelby is a senior communication specialist in the Office of Marketing and Communication. Contact Shelby at (414) 288-6712 or