María Martinón Torres

STEM TALENT GIRL / María Martinón Torres

El porvenir de mi pasado.



UCL (University College London).

Born in Ourense in 1974. PhD with Extraordinary Doctorate Award in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Santiago de Compostela. Graduate in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Santiago de Compostela with Extraordinary Award, Academy Award for Medicine and Surgery in Galicia, and the Xunta de Galicia Award for Best Academic Record. Member of the Academy of Medicine and Surgery of Galicia by invitation.

Her doctoral thesis, which addresses the analysis of the teeth of hominid fossils, was co-directed by the professors José María Bermúdez de Castro, Co-Director of the Atapuerca archaeological sites, and Ángel Carracedo, director of the Instituto de Medicina Legal de Santiago. Under the direction of the latter, she undertook a predoctoral residency focused on the analysis of ancient DNA.

She specialised in Forensic Anthropology at the Autonomous University of Madrid and in Human Evolution at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. She was the Manager for the Line of Investigation on Dental Anthropology in Hominids at the National Centre for Research on Human Evolution (Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana – CENIEH) in Burgos from 2007 to 2015.

Currently, she is a researcher and professor in the Department of Anthropology at University College London. She has formed a part of the Atapuerca team since 1998 and her research has focused on the study of hominid palaeobiology, the evolution of the dental apparatus with taxonomical and phylogenetic implications, evolutionary stages and paleopathology. She has participated and continues to participate in several international research projects with France, China, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Georgia.

She has given more than 60 conferences by invitation in diverse seminars and courses nationally and internationally, such as those at the Cervantes Institute in Brazil, the Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago, the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology in Beijing, the University of Bologna, Naturallis Biodiversity Centre in Leiden (Netherlands) and the Natural History Museum in Paris, among others. She has published more than 10 books or book chapters in the area of human evolution and over 60 articles in internationally renowned scientific journals like Nature, Journal of Human Evolution, Proceeding of the Natural Academy of Science, Journal of Archaeological Science and Evolutionary Anthropology, among others. Her work has been included in the top 1% of the most cited authors in her field, according to indicators at the Thomson Reuters agency.

She has directed and continues to direct several dissertations and doctoral theses. She was the scientific commissioner for the exhibition of the treasures from Atapuerca at the Natural History Museum in New York in 2003, she frequently collaborates with the media to share scientific knowledge, and her contribution to the study of the first modern humans in China was collated in the BBC’s Horizon series documentary, “The lost tribes of humankind”. She has received financing for her research and studies from institutions, such as the British Council, Fundación Pedro Barrié de la Maza, Ministerio de Ciencia, Royal Society of London, Fundación Atapuerca, Fundación Duques de Soria, Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Leakey Foundation and the British Academy of Science, among others. Her book, “Hijos de un tiempo perdido”, written alongside other researchers from the Atapuerca team, won the Prisma de las Ciencias Award, and in 2005 she was selected by the Ministry for Science and Education and the Superior Council for Scientific Research as one of Spain’s top 45 active scientists.

She is a founding member of the European Society for the Study of Human Evolution. Her publications are in the top 1% globally of the most cited work in her field (

Her fieldwork in dental anthropology, in combination with biogeographical data and the climate, have led to her proposing a new evolutionary stage for the Pleistocene human species, suggesting that the origin of the first European is not African, but Asian.

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