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Blaine Maley, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Anatomy


Blaine Maley, Ph.D.Blaine Maley, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of anatomy at Marian University. Prior to joining the faculty at Marian University, Dr. Maley was an assistant professor at Des Moines University in the anatomy department with a teaching focus of clinically-oriented functional and developmental anatomy.

Dr. Maley earned his bachelor of arts degree from Bowdoin College in Brunswick Maine, with a major in biochemistry. This was followed by a long stint in New York City, working as a fine arts conservator and sculptor in Central Park and at the American Museum of Natural History. At the Museum of Natural History, Dr. Maley worked to develop fossil reconstructions of hominids for museum displays. This experience provided the seed for his interest in human evolution that led him into the anthropology department at Washington University in St. Louis. There he earned his masters and doctorate degrees, writing his dissertation on modern human cranial variation of Arctic people.

Receiving his Ph.D. in 2011, Dr. Maley landed at Des Moines University, working as an assistant professor in the department of anatomy. He has been a National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME) item writer and reviewer. At Washington University Dr. Maley was highly involved in student leadership activities, serving as the President of the Graduate Student Senate in 2006-07, and serving as the Senior Student Fellow to the Center for the Study of Ethics and Human Values at Washington University in St. Louis from 2008-10. Dr. Maley has received numerous grants for his research including a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Grant. 

His current research program brings him to Bolivia where he is working on Holocene human occupations of the Bolivian Andes, and the more general problem of the early human occupation and migration into the New World over the last 20,000 years. His other academic interests are in the history of evolutionary thought, the history of race “science” and eugenics, and the ethics of personalized medicine and genomics.

In his spare time Dr. Maley enjoys bicycles, sculpture, and fun.

Clinical/Research Interests

My research involves using morphological and molecular data to develop population genetic models for exploring patterns of variation in Arctic and other New World human populations. This includes: 

  • Testing models of population movement into the New World, including developing new methods for examining continuity and replacement across time and geographic space.
  • Examining how environmental climatic factors have played a role in defining current patterns of human variation. I am using quantitative genetic theory to examine how simulated response to selection provides evidence of differential integration in the human crania as a response to environmental stress.

Through this work, I have garnered a range of morphological and molecular data collection and analysis experience. I have collected morphological data from an extensive collection of over 1800 human crania. This included digitization of cranial landmarks using a G2 3-D digitizer, and scoring discrete cranial traits. My molecular work was carried out in the ancient DNA laboratory of Frederika Kaestle, University of Indiana, Bloomington, where I performed aDNA extractions on teeth from Pt. Hope individuals, including PCR amplification and sequencing. More recently, I worked in the laboratory of Mark Stoneking, Max Planck Institute, Leipzig, Germany, applying next generation 454 sequencing protocols to my Pt. Hope DNA extracts. I am proficient in the R programming language, and am experienced with a wide range of quantitative and molecular statistical analysis methods. Prior to graduate school, I worked in the Physical Anthropology Laboratory at the American Museum of Natural History. There I worked in collaboration with Gary J. Sawyer on a range of fossil reconstructions for museum displays, including a fully articulated Neanderthal reconstruction (see publications on CV). To this end I have a great deal of experience in modeling, mold making, casting, and articulation of fossil reconstructions. 

Since 2010, I have been working as the Human Remains Specialist for the Project Early Human Occupation in Lipez, Bolivia, run by Dr. Juan Albarracin-Jordan, Fundación Bartolomé de las Casas and Dr. Jose M. Capriles, University of Pittsburgh. The sites excavated by this project are located between the Uyuni Salt flat and the Atacama Desert, and include dry caves with excellent organic preservation. A confirmed AMS radiocarbon date of cal. 13k BP makes these sites one of the earliest confirmed South American human occupations. I have been working as part of the excavation field crew, and have been given proprietary research access to all human remains for morphological and molecular analysis. In addition to this project, I have been given Archaic and Early Formative human remains for molecular and morphological analysis from a selection of other sites around Bolivia including Iroco in Oruro, Mojocoya in Chuquisaca, San Luis in Tarija, Socaba and Jaihuayco in Cochibamba, and Nuapua in La Paz, of which I am currently analyzing to answer questions related to human health, ethnicity, kinship, and demographic processes during the early peopling of the New World.


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