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Department of Archaeology



I was born and raised in Madagascar, where I lived until I was 18 years old. I then moved to California to pursue an undergraduate degree at UC San Diego. I graduated from UC San Diego with a major in Biological Anthropology and a minor in Earth Sciences in 2018. Although I always knew I wanted to become an anthropologist, my undergraduate experiences with different anthropological labs on campus allowed me to zone in on palaeoanthropology as a career. I then undertook an MPhil in Human Evolutionary Studies at the University of Cambridge. Today, I am still at Cambridge where I am a candidate for the PhD in Biological Anthropology



My research interests have always been broadly palaeoanthropological. At this point in time, I am interested in Middle Pleistocene hominin diversification, particularly the origin and subsequent dispersals of the Homo sapiens lineage. My undergraduate honors thesis at UC San Diego focused on the Levantine Early Bronze Age as I performed a lithic analysis of ~7500 stone tools from a site in Jordan. My MPhil dissertation moved away from stone tools. It focused on australopithecine diversity, and used a combination of archaeological data, modern day environmental data, and GIS techniques to attempt to identify environmental corridors, barriers, and refugia that would have affected australopithecines dispersals between ~4 Ma and ~1 Ma. My PhD will focus on the palaeoecology of African sites since 1 million years ago in order to clarify the evolutionary context of Homo sapiens

Key Publications

Other publications: 

Heiske, M., Alva, O., Pereda-Loth, V., Van Schalkwyk, M., Radimilahy, C., Letellier, T., ... & Pierron, D. (2021). Genetic evidence and historical theories of the Asian and African origins of the present Malagasy population. Human Molecular Genetics.

Teaching and Supervisions


I am involved with supervisions in the following course:

  • B3 (Human Evolution)
Research supervision: 

Supervisor: Professor Marta Mirazon Lahr

Other Professional Activities

  • Co-organizer of the BioAnth Seminar series (Along with Dr. Amelie Beaudet and Lucia Nadal)
  • General member of the the Archaeological Review from Cambridge (ARC)
  • Member of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
  • Member of Christ's College

Job Titles

PhD student in Biological Anthropology

General Info

Not available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Material Culture
Human Palaeoecology
Human Evolution
Environmental Archaeology, Geoarchaeology, and Landscape studies

Contact Details

mgav2 [at]


Person keywords: 
Human evolution
Hominin dispersals
Biological Anthropology
Environment, Landscapes and Settlement
Human Evolutionary Studies
Geographical areas: 
Periods of interest: 
Other Prehistory