Dr Katharine Balolia

BSc., MSc, MSc, PhD
Lecturer in Biological Anthropology
College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: +61 (0) 2 6125 9298

Areas of expertise

  • Evolutionary Biology 0603
  • Biological Adaptation 060303
  • Phylogeny And Comparative Analysis 060309
  • Life Histories 060308

Research interests

Sexual dimorphism; evolution of hominin social behaviour; growth and development; cranial anatomy; 3D surface scanning; geometric morphometrics



I undertook my PhD research at University College London (2006 – 2014), firstly under the supervision of Dr. Charles Lockwood and subsequently working with Dr. Christophe Soligo. The title of my PhD thesis is ‘Sexual dimorphism, growth and development beyond dental maturity in the cranium of extant hominoid primates’. I then completed a 2 year postdoctoral position as Research Associate in Human Evolutionary Biology (2014 - 2016), working as part of the Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology (CASHP) at the George Washington University (GWU), under the supervision of Dr. Bernard Wood. My current role is Lecturer in Biological Anthropology in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at The Australian National University.


Researcher's projects

The primary aim of my research is to understand the relationship between sexual dimorphism in the facial skeleton and socioecological variables among extant primates, and how sex-specific patterns of adulthood growth and development relate to within-group social interactions and dominance relationships and the timing of life history events observed in primate groups. A secondary focus of my research is to understand whether quantifying specific regions of the cranium and mandible using geometric morphometric techniques from data derived from 3D surface models can assist in making reliable taxonomic assessments at the genus and species level among extant primates and extinct hominins, specifically within South African Plio-Pleistocene hominin assemblages (representing Australopithecus, Paranthropus, Homo). Much of my research to date has also focused on developing new techniques, using 3D surface data, to quantify size and shape of facial traits hypothesised to vary in response to sexual selection, and to quantitatively assess sex differences in the skull for sex-identification.


Available student projects

Our lab has a large hominin and extinct primate cast collection and a large database of hominid 3D surface scans which is available for research projects. If you are interested in pursuing Honours, Masters or PhD research under the topics of primate and extinct hominin evolution under my supervision please feel free to get in touch with me.


Current student projects

Kieran Baughan (Masters Project) – Working thesis title: Is mandibular shape a reliable indicator of diet in Gigantopithecus blacki?

Hannah Hooge (Honours Project) – Thesis title: Assessing the mastication hypothesis in Gorilla and Pongo: Sagittal cresting and its association with mandibular morphology.


Past student projects

Annie Backshall (Masters Project) – Thesis title: Hard to Palate: Newly identified macromorphoscopic traits of the palatine bone and their relationship to ancestry

Emma Doherty (Masters Project) – Thesis title:  Geographic variation in Macaca: Implications for understanding craniofacial variation in Homo erectus

Geometric morphometric analyses of cranial morphology in capuchin monkeys at the genus and species level (Undergraduate research project)

Identifying Hylobatidae taxa through cranial size and shape (Undergraduate research project)

Craniometric Variation in Howler Monkeys: An Investigation into Sexual Dimorphism and Growth Beyond Dental Maturity (Undergraduate research project)

Sex estimation in extant hominoids using craniofacial measurements (Undergraduate research project)

Mandibular size variation in Mid-Pleistocene Homo, Homo naledi, Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens (Undergraduate research project)

The relationship between canine crown height dimorphism and facial breadth dimorphism in howler monkeys (Undergraduate research project)

Can patterns of mandibular shape variation in extant hominoid taxa be used to assign taxonomic status to early Homo mandibles? (Undergraduate research project)

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Updated:  21 May 2022 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers