Tuesday's Opening General Session will include a keynote presentation by Daniel Lieberman, the Edwin M. Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.
He received degrees from Harvard and Cambridge University, and taught at Rutgers University and George Washington University before joining the Harvard Faculty in 2001. He studies and teaches how and why the human body is the way it is, and how our evolutionary history affects health and disease. He is best known for his research on the evolution of the head and on the evolution of running and walking, which he studies by combining experimental biomechanics, anatomy, and physiology both in the lab and in the field. He has conducted research in Africa for almost 30 years, and now also works in Mexico. He loves teaching and has published well over 150 peer-reviewed papers, many in journals such as Nature, Science, and PNAS, as well as three popular books, The Evolution of the Human Head (2011), The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease (2013), and Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding (2021). In his spare time, he enjoys running.
Liberman will be speaking about some of the arguments he makes from his myth-busting book, Exercised, which tells the story of how we never evolved to exercise—to do voluntary physical activity for the sake of health—but instead engage in moderate lifelong physical activity when it is necessary or rewarding. He will discuss the implications of this perspective for efforts to get people to be more active, including why medicalizing and commodifying exercise has not been very effective.