Cynthia M. Beall

Cynthia Beall headshot

Cynthia M. Beall, PhD, S. Idell Pyle Professor of Anthropology, is internationally recognized for her work on the biology of people who live at high altitudes. She joined the Department of Anthropology at Case Western Reserve University in 1976 and immediately began a series of pioneering field studies into the ways in which Andean, Tibetan and East African highlanders respond to and thrive in their stressful native environments. She was the first to thoroughly document the use of different biological pathways by Andean and Tibetan highlanders. Additional research has detected natural selection occurring in modern Tibet and identified a key role for nitric oxide gas at high altitude. Her work has attracted continuous federal funding since 1981 and resulted in more than 60 publications in scientific journals, as well as numerous invited book chapters and presentations. She has been recognized with election to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

Beall's professional service record reflects her international and interdisciplinary approach to science. It includes membership on national and international committees and boards, including:

  • The Scientific Advisory Committee for the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences' Directorate of the National Science Foundation;
  • The Council of the National Academy of Sciences; 
  • The Board on International Scientific Organizations of the National Research Council; and
  • The Executive Board of the International Council on Science.

In her own disciplines, she has served as:

  • President of the Human Biology Association; 
  • Chair of Section 51 Anthropology of the National Academy of Sciences; and
  • Incoming chair of Section H Anthropology of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In addition to a teaching schedule that includes introductory and upper-level class instruction, directing the steering committee of the evolutionary biology program, developing programs in anthropology and global health, undergraduate and graduate advising, Beall has also served on the following university committees:

  • The Faculty Senate Executive Committee;
  • The Faculty Senate Research Committee; and 
  • The College of Arts and Sciences Appointments Committee.

Beall also played a key role in the development of Science Cafe Cleveland—an informal public forum for the open discussion of current issues in science.