CHES was established in December, 1996, as part of Rutgers University’s Strategic Planning Implementation Process. Based in the Department of Anthropology, School of Arts and Sciences, New Brunswick, CHES is the research and field training arm of the department’s undergraduate and graduate programs in Evolutionary Anthropology. The center’s primary mission is the discovery, teaching, and public dissemination of knowledge on the origin, evolution, and biological and ecological bases of human behavior.

CHES was established with generous financial support from Rutgers’ central administration. The University Vice President for Academic Affairs allocated to the center $750,000 of the Albert Fellows Bequest to Rutgers University on January 1, 1997. The funds were designated as a five-year challenge grant to an endowment for CHES. The University Vice President for Academic Affairs acknowledged in a letter dated May 2, 2001, that CHES had met this first challenge on the merits of private donations from a number of individuals, particularly a bequest of $750,000 from Mr. Nicholas G. Rutgers, III, in October, 2000. In the same letter, the Vice President allocated to CHES an additional $250,000 from the Fellows Bequest as a three-year challenge, all but $6,000 of which was met by the time of the writing of the center’s June 2003 report. That shortfall had been erased within the three-year deadline, and by the writing of this report has been exceeded by over $200,000.

Over the years, CHES has grown to be recognized internationally for the outstanding research which has been produced in its name. Below is a timeline of significant published research and important milestones in which department faculty and students were involved.

CHES Timeline


  • Robert Blumenschine and Jack Harris retire from Rutgers, but remain Associate Members of CHES.
  • Robin Fox (CHES Associate) is elected to the National Academy of Sciences.



  • Ryne Palombit is elected Director of CHES.
  • Susan Cachel, Rob Scott, and Erin Vogel are elected to the CHES Executive Board.
  • Robert Blumenschine (CHES Faculty) and team members working on the long-running Olduvai Landscape Paleoanthropology Project (OLAAP) publish their results in a dedicated issue of the Journal of Human Evolution (Vol. 63, Issue 2, August 2012) in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the "Zinjanthropus" site at Olduvai Gorge.
  • Robert Scott and Erin Vogel (both CHES Faculty) are awarded a grant from USAID to develop an international project between Prof. Vogel's site in Indonesia and the New Brunswick campus.



  • Ryne Palombit is elected Acting Director of CHES.
  • Erin Vogel is elected to the CHES Executive Board.
  • Robert Trivers (CHES Faculty) publishes his book, The Folly of Fools: the Logic of Deceit and Self-deception in Human Life (NYC, Basic).



  • Lee Cronk is appointed Acting Director of CHES.
  • Susan Cachel, Ryne Palombit, and Rob Scott are appointed to the CHES Executive Board.



  • Susan Cachel (CHES Faculty) is elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
  • Jack Harris (CHES Faculty), David Braun, and Purity Kiura (both CHES Alumni) are co-authors with colleagues from the Koobi Fora Field School on a paper about hominin footprints found during several consecutive seasons of the Koobi Fora Field School: "Early hominin foot morphology based on 1.5-million-year-old footprints from Ileret, Kenya" published in Science (Vol. 323, Issue 5918, Pp. 1197-1201, February 2009).



  • Ryne Palombit (CHES Faculty) assumes directorship of the Primatology, Wildlife Ecology, and Conservation Field School, in association with the Museums of Kenya and Kenya Wildlife Service
  • Jack Harris (CHES Faculty) establishes the Primatology, Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Field School in association with the National Museums of Kenya.
  • Robert Trivers (CHES Faculty) is awarded the 25th Annual Crafoord Prize by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.



  • Horst Dieter Steklis retires from the Rutgers, but remains an Emeritus Faculty member and a CHES Associate.



  • Ryne Palombit (CHES Faculty) is awarded a grant from from the National Science Foundation to support his comparative study of male-female relationships and infanticide in olive baboons of Kenya and chacma baboons of Botswana.



  • Ryne Palombit (CHES Faculty) is awarded grants from the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation to support his comparative study of male-female relationships and infanticide in olive baboons of Kenya and chacma baboons of Botswana.



  • Rutgers assumes co-directorship of the prestigious Koobi Fora Field School with the National Museums of Kenya. The field school offers undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to receive training in prehistoric archaeology, vertebrate and hominin paleontology, geology, and wildlife ecology at one of the world’s most famous fossil hominin localities.


  • CHES is established with Robert Blumenschine as its first Director.