George R. Milner elected to National Academy of Sciences

May 06, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — George R. Milner, distinguished professor of anthropology in the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

George Milner

George R. Milner, Penn State distinguished professor of anthropology and 2019 inductee into the National Academy of Sciences.

IMAGE: Emilee Spokus

Milner's osteological and archaeological research focuses on the prehistory of eastern North America — especially the late prehistoric Midwest and Southeast — and medieval Denmark. Research topics of particular interest include the demographic structure and disease experience of past populations; long-term trends in settlement patterns and human land use; and warfare among small-scale societies.

In addition to the American Midwest and Southeast, Milner’s extensive archaeological fieldwork and study of modern skeletal collections has taken him to Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Milner is at the forefront of efforts to refine skeletal age estimation techniques — work of forensic significance that also shows that people in the distant past lived longer than is commonly thought.

“I’m delighted that George Milner is receiving this high honor to recognize his exemplary scientific achievements,” said Susan Welch, dean of the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts. “His work on skeletal age estimation techniques is enabling us to learn much more about ancient populations than we did before. We are very proud of George and his work.”

Milner has written or co-authored 10 books, including “The Cahokia Chiefdom: The Archaeology of a Mississippian Society,” originally published by The Smithsonian Institution Press in 1998. He also has written nearly 100 chapters and articles that have appeared in journals such as the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, American Antiquity, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, to name a few.

Milner has served on numerous boards and committees for national and international institutions and professional societies, including terms as president of the Paleopathology Association and the Midwest Archaeological Conference. He assisted with the federal effort to recover and identify victims from the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Among other current responsibilities, he is a member of the Native American Repatriation Review Committee for the National Museum of Natural History and a co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. He was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2002.

Milner received his bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Beloit College, where he was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees in anthropology from Northwestern University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in physical anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution. Milner has been a member of the Penn State faculty since 1986 and served as interim head or head of the Department of Anthropology three times from 1994 to 2016. He was named a distinguished professor in 2017.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and — with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine — provides science, engineering, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

Last Updated May 06, 2019