9 March 2017

Behavioural and evolutionary biologist Carel van Schaik appointed third Eugène Dubois professorial chair holder

Professor Carel van Schaik (1953) was appointed the 2017 Eugène Dubois chair at Maastricht University. He is the third professor to hold this rotating chair position. As an evolutionary and behavioural biologist, Van Schaik is interested in primates in general and in Sumatran orangutans more specifically. He is the author of Red Apes and the Rise of Human Culture and co-author of The Good Book of Human Nature, which he published last year with Kai Michel. This book, which has been published in Dutch, German and English, interprets the Bible from a biological and anthropological perspective.

'It's fantastic that Carel van Schaik was appointed the new Eugène Dubois professor,' says Dr Joep Geraedts, professor emeritus of Genetics and Cell Biology. 'He's not only an expert on the evolution of orangutans and other great apes, his book The Good Book of Human Nature also offers an entirely new perspective on the evolution of the Bible.'

After studying biology and obtaining his PhD degree in Utrecht (both cum laude), he was offered a research position at Princeton University and a professorship at Duke University, both in the United States. In 2004, Van Schaik was appointed professor of Biological Anthropology and director of the Anthropological Institute at the University of Zurich.

Carel van Schaik was appointed at the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML) and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS). As part of his chair position, he will spend two weeks in Maastricht this year: the first week in May and the second in November. During the first week at FASoS, he will focus primarily on the cultural evolution of mankind. He will also hold a Studium Generale lecture on 15 May that touches on his book The Good Book of Human Nature. In November he will give a series of academic lectures at the Randwyck campus (Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences) on the other side of the Meuse river, which will delve deeper into the evolution of intelligence. This will also be the theme of his public lecture in November.

Professors who hold the Eugène Dubois rotating chair position are appointed in two faculties, where they deliver master classes and public lectures. The first two professors to hold this position were Prof. Frans de Waal and Prof. Mark Stoneking.