Francis Kirera, PhD

Kirera, FrancisEducation

  • BS, Biology, Kenyatta University
  • MA, Anthropology, University of Arkansas
  • PhD, Environmental Dynamics, University of Arkansas
  • Postdoctoral Associate, Paleontology/Paleoanthropology, Stony Brook University, Turkana Basin Institute
  • Fellow, Master Educator Training Program (METP), Ross University School of Medicine

Research Interest

Dr. Kirera’s research focuses on understanding the interaction between past environmental changes and human evolution. His primary goal in this field is to find a better approach and detailed study of the skeletal and dental morphology of both living and extinct fauna. Dr. Kirera’s research also combines different tools including stable isotopes, functional morphology and community studies to reconstruct the paleoecology of extinct hominins and other faunal communities. His research has two components: 1) fieldwork, which entails prospecting, excavating, and collecting fossils in the field, and 2) lab work, which involves analyzing and describing fossils that are curated at the museums. Currently, he is conducting fieldwork in the Central Highlands region of Kenya and the Lake Turkana Basin in northern Kenya.

Selected Publications

  • Liutkus-Pierce Cynthia M., Takashita-Bynum Kevin K., Beane Luke A., Edwards Cole T., Burns Oliver  E., Mana Sara, Hemming Sidney, Grossman Aryeh, Wright James D., Kirera FM (2019). Reconstruction of the Early Miocene Critical Zone at Loperot, Southwestern Turkana, Kenya.  Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 7(44) 1-20.
  • Chritz, K. L, Marshall, F.B., Zagal, M.E., Kirera, F. Cerling, T.E., (2015). Environments and trypanosomiasis risks for early herders in the later Holocene of the Lake Victoria basin, Kenya. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112 (12) 3674-3679.
  • Cerling, T.A., Andanje S.A., Blumenthal S.A., Brown, F.H., Chritz, K.L., Harris, J.M., Hart J, Kirera, F.M., Kaleme, P., Leakey L.N., Leakey M.G., Levin N.E., Manthi, F, K., Passey, B.H. and Uno, K.T (2015). Dietary changes of large herbivores in the Turkana Basin, Kenya from 4 to 1 million years ago. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(37): 11467-11472.
  • Grossman, A. Liutkus-Pierce, C. Kyongo, B. and Kirera, F. (2014). New Fauna from Loperot contributes to the understanding of Early Miocene catarrhine communities. International Journal of  Primatology 1-22.
  • Klukkert , Z.S., Dennis, J.C. Kirera M.F., Ungar, P.S.(2012) Dental topographic analysis  of the molar teeth of primates L.S. Bell (Ed.), Forensic Microscopy for Skeletal Tissues, Springer, New York pp. 145-152.
  • Cerling, T., Mbua, E., Kirera, F, Manthi, F, Grine, F., Leakey, M., Sponheimer,   M. and Uno, K. (2011). Reply to Godfrey et al.: Outside the box. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science  108 (38) E743.
  • Cerling, T., Mbua, E., Kirera, F, Manthi, F, Grine, F., Leakey, M., Sponheimer,   M. and Uno, K. (2011). Diet of Paranthropus boisei in the early Pleistocene of   East Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science  Vol. 108 (23)    9337–9341.
  • Kirera, F. and Ungar, P. (2003).  Occlusal relief changes with molar wear in Pan  troglodytes troglodytes and Gorilla gorilla gorilla.  American Journal of Primatology Vol. 60 (2):  31-41.


  • National Science Foundation (NSF). Parsing the influence of climate and tectonics on Miocene ecosystems and faunal evolution in the East African Rift, Kenya. Sub-I: $2,671,455 (2020)
  • Anatomy for Your Health Workshop. American Association of Anatomists Education Outreach Grant (2019–2020), PI:  $ 5,800
  • Mercer University School of Medicine, Dean’s Seed Grant, Developing and Assessing Cadaver-Based Clinicopathology Reports Based on Medical Imaging and Histopathology Data. Principal Investigator (2018–2019) PI: $6,000
  • Mercer University, Provost Seed Grant (2019) PI:  $3,970
  • Leakey Foundation, Research Project (2008–2009) PI: $7,000

Professional Involvement

  • American Association of Anatomists (AAA)
  • American Association of Clinical Anatomists (AACA)
  • International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE)
  • Lambda Alpha National Anthropology Honor Society
  • Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society
  • Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP)

Contact Dr. Francis Kirera