Falls and her students visited the
David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins.
Students digitally transformed themselves into
several early human species.
R-MC Professor Emerita Elsa Falls (biology)
and her students recently visited the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington,
Falls teaches the Honors course “Human Origins,” which explores the central question
“what does it mean to be human?” The origin of our species is investigated by examining
evidence for human evolution from diverse disciplines including anthropology, paleontology,
classical genetics, population genetics, and molecular genetics.
At the Smithsonian, students visited The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, a
15,000-square-foot interactive exhibition on permanent display. The exhibit, which
opened in 2010, is considered by the director of the museum as “one of the most
significant public and scientific achievements in the 100-year history of the museum.”
A life-size display of forensically reconstructed faces allows visitors to connect
with their ancestors and learn about major milestones in the origins of human beings.
R-MC students digitally transformed themselves into several early human species.
“The Hall of Human Origins uses Smithsonian science as a foundation to appreciate
our own unique development as human beings,” says Falls. One enters the Hall by
traveling back through time through a time tunnel depicting changes in climate and
life forms over the past six million years. Actual archaeological sites can be explored
at interactive stations.
“There are over 75 reproductions of hominin skulls from around the world,” says
Falls. “Visiting the Hall was an immersion museum experience unlike any these R-MC
students had ever had.”
Falls joined the faculty at R-MC in 1978. She earned her B.A. from the Westhampton
College of the University of Richmond and her M.A. from the University of Richmond.