February 13, 2009


Dear Colleagues:

I am deeply saddened to share with you the news that Professor Phillip Walker passed away on February 6.

Professor Walker was a highly respected faculty member in our Department of Anthropology for nearly 35 years. He was a dedicated researcher, teacher, and mentor who touched countless lives through his work and the personal example he set. He challenged and inspired us, and made important contributions to our understanding of the world. We feel his loss keenly; at the same time, we recognize how privileged we have been to know him as our colleague and friend for all these years. Our campus flag was lowered to half staff in his honor yesterday—a date his family indicated would have been particularly meaningful to Phil as the bicentennial of Charles Darwin’s birth.

As a leading bioarchaeologist, Professor Walker studied human skeletal remains from around the world to uncover insights about health, diet, pathologies, trauma, and behavior in human populations. He reached across the disciplines, bridging the biological and social sciences with his research and with the fascinating questions he addressed about the human condition. Professor Walker actively engaged his undergraduate and graduate students in his research, setting many on the path to their own distinguished careers in anthropology.

In 2003, he was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was President (2003-2005) and Vice President (2000-2002) of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA), and was appointed to the Smithsonian Institution’s Repatriations Review Committee from 2003-2007. For his work with Native American communities and his role as an adviser to the federal government on the issue of repatriations, he will be posthumously awarded the Presidential Recognition Award by the Society for American Archaeology in April.

Professor Walker is deeply missed by our entire UCSB family. Our hearts go out to Phil’s wife, Cynthia Brock; his stepdaughter, Melissa; and their family and many friends.

Our Department of Anthropology is collecting tributes and photographs that will be presented to the family, at http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/phil.php. In addition, Professor Walker’s nephew, Peter, has created a website that will host memories and photographs of Phil, at http://phil-walker.net.

Plans are underway for a memorial service on Sunday, February 22; details will be posted soon on the departmental website (http://www.anth.ucsb.edu). I invite you to join our UCSB community in celebrating Phil’s life and contributions, as we gather to remember and pay tribute to him together.


Henry T. Yang