Pope Francis Appoints Ethiopian-born Professor to Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences

Professor Zeresenay Alemseged, appointed as an ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on 13 April 2022. Credit: University of Chicago

Pope Francis has appointed an Ethiopian-born Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy as an ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

The Holy Father appointed Professor Zeresenay Alemseged to the Vatican-based institution founded in January 1994 to promote the study and progress of social sciences on Wednesday, April 13

The academy that was established by St. John Paul II aims at promoting the academic fields of “economics, sociology, law and political science, thus offering the Church those elements, which she can use for the development of her social doctrine, and reflecting on the application of that doctrine in contemporary society,” the entity’s leadership has indicated.

Born on 4 June 1969, Prof. Alemseged is a member of the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy in the USA-based University of Chicago.

He was awarded a doctorate in paleontology from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, France, in 1998.


Prof. Alemseged is the co-founder and president of the East African Association for Paleoanthropology and Paleontology (EAAPP) and the African Rift Valley Research Consortium (ARVRC).

The member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has previously served as president of the Department of Anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences.  

In his biography published on the website of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Prof. Alemseged does laboratory and field research in paleoanthropology and human evolution.

“To achieve these goals, he conducted multidisciplinary paleoanthropological field work in some of the hominin fossil hotspots in Africa while also applying novel imaging and visualization methods to analyze and interpret fossils of early human ancestors,” his biography indicates.

The Ethiopian-born don has published over 70 peer reviewed scientific papers, contributed to several books and has done extensive scientific and public presentations. 

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The 53-year-old Professor’s work has been featured on platforms including TED and the Cable News Network (CNN).

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.