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Ph.D. Student Receives Leakey Foundation Research Grant

Rebecca Cook, a fifth-year evolutionary anthropology Ph.D. student, has received a fall 2022 Leakey Foundation Research Grant. She is one of 32 recipients of the award, which funds projects related to the scientific knowledge and public understanding of human evolution, behavior, and survival. 

Cook’s research focuses on the shape and function of the pelvis, particularly as it relates to gait. Her dissertation project, “Biomechanics of the early Homo pelvis using finite element analysis,” examines the unique form of the pelvis in the early Homo genus through biomechanical testing and comparison to other species of hominins. 

In her clinical research at the Duke Cancer Center, Cook studies the gait of patients who have undergone a removal of a part of the pelvic bone, often due to cancer. Using this gait data and knowledge of the human pelvis, she hopes to advise on more biomechanically efficient prosthetic implants and muscle reattachment techniques for future patients.  

Cook will use her Leakey Foundation Research Grant to fund necessary software for her project. She has also been awarded a Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine (TriCEM) graduate student award to fund her pelvic resection research at the Duke Cancer Center. 

Tips for Future Applicants

As with any grant, don't be disheartened by a rejection letter. I didn't get this on my first try. Rely on your network for help and always try again. — Rebecca Cook