A scholar and professor in biological anthropology, Dan Gebo has earned a world-class reputation for his high-quality research while thoughtfully and rigorously teaching undergraduate and graduate students at NIU.
“Dan is one of the most outstanding professors I have had the privilege to interact with at NIU or any other institution,” remarks Dr. Judy Ledgerwood, acting dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He is a rare combination of a brilliant researcher and a top-notch classroom teacher.”
Gebo’s record of research, all of which has been at NIU, is extraordinary. “My research focuses on how living and fossil primates move and how their locomotor systems change through time,” Gebo explains. His groundbreaking research in primate evolution has been published in top scientific and physical anthropology journals. In 2014, Gebo’s book, Primate Comparative Anatomy, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press and has been wildly successful.
In addition to the exceptional quality and volume of Gebo’s research, it has had significant scientific impact. For example, his work on the morphology of Morotopithecus has had a major influence on how the evolution of great apes is perceived, particularly as it concerns the origin of the modern ape body form. Gebo’s China research, for which he received an impressive, multi-year NSF grant, concentrated on the description of new species (including the most primitive primate) and the functional morphology of locomotion in several species.
Gebo worked with colleagues to build a strong biological anthropology program at NIU and formed an interdisciplinary paleobiology program. He has continually demonstrated a strong commitment to his students, selected by students as the outstanding teacher in anthropology seven times.
“Dr. Gebo is an extremely knowledgeable professor; he shaped my thinking in a variety of ways and gained the attention and interest of a room full of anthropology students at 8 a.m.,” shares alumna Caitlin Bemis. “He equally earned my respect while serving as my advisor for my master’s degree.”
Gebo’s training and mentorship doesn’t stop at the classroom doors; his contributions to experiential learning take graduate students into the field in the United States and abroad.
Accolades continue as Gebo has also received the honor of being named the NIU Presidential Teaching Professor, the Carnegie Foundation United States Professor of the Year for the state of Illinois and the NIU Board of Trustees Professor. He also was the distinguished recipient of the NIU Presidential Research Professorship.
Gebo’s leadership at NIU has led him to serve on many university-wide committees, including the selection committee for the NIU President.
“I have been at Northern Illinois University for over three decades,” Gebo reflects. “I thoroughly enjoy the research, teaching and engaging with my students—they keep me very active.”