BSc Kent; MPhil, PhD Cambridge

Office: 10.48, Run Run Shaw Tower

Dr. Michael B. C. Rivera is a Filipino-Chinese researcher, writer, public speaker and biological anthropologist. Obtaining his PhD in 2019 from the University of Cambridge, his main research focuses on how humans have evolved and adapted biologically and culturally over the last six million years. His main research methods include osteobiographical reconstructions of diet, disease, physical activity and body shape/size. Through human skeletal analysis, he is most interested in how active and healthy the lifestyles and diets were of ancient peoples living in coastal environments – particularly in East and Southeast Asia, and in the Baltic region of northeastern Europe.

Other interests include heritage and museums, culture and food, ethnographic documentary-making and visual anthropology, decolonial theory and praxis, the history of race and racism, social media and digital technologies, public engagement and science communication, and the decolonization of archaeology/anthropology.


Dr. Rivera is currently working on establishing a greater presence of bioanthropological science in Hong Kong, in terms of research, teaching, laboratory and field projects, and public engagement projects. This involves the establishment and bringing together of various areas of academic inquiry, including human genomics, human skeletal/dental studies, biology and anatomy, geology and isotopic chemistry, primatology, ecology and environmental studies, as well as history, archaeology and museum studies.

He is also the lead archaeologist managing the excavation of the remains of a US Navy plane that crashed in Hong Kong in 1945. He has worked in/has other active bioarchaeology/bioanthropology projects in Southeast Asia, Europe and the Pacific. Finally, Dr. Rivera has also worked extensively in making scientific work and research ideas accessible through various forms of teaching, social media and public engagement.

Research Interests

  • Bioarchaeology and biological anthropology
  • Prehistoric archaeology
  • History of race and racism
  • Hong Kong studies
  • Southeast Asian archaeology
  • History of food
  • Heritage and museums
  • Public engagement



Stock, J. T., Pomeroy, E., Ruff, C. B., Brown, M., Gasperetti, M. A., Li, F.-J., Maher, L., Malone, C., Mushrif-Tripathy, V., Parkinson, E., Rivera, M. B. C., Siew, Y. Y., Stefanovic, S., Stoddart, S., Zariņa, G. and Wells, J. C. K. (2023). Long-term trends in human body size track regional variation in subsistence transitions and growth acceleration linked to dairyingProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 120(4): e2209482119

Cheung, C., Ko, J. and Rivera, M. B. C. (accepted – forthcoming). A multi-disciplinary approach to understanding Hong Kong’s past: bioanthropological, biomolecular, and zooarchaeological methods. The Journal of the Hong Kong Archaeological Society.

Book chapters

Rivera, M. B. C. (2023). Race and Human Variation. In: Explorations: An Open Access Introduction to Biological Anthropology (2nd ed.). Shook, B., Aguilera, K., Nelson, K. and Braff, L. (eds).

Press and public engagement

RTHK (2023). Homo naledi discoveriesBackchat on RTHK Radio 3.

Binalot Talks (2023). Perspectives from Hong Kong on Bioarchaeology and Biological Anthropology. School of Archaeology UP Dilimanhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMS0HkNwH-o

Lam, N. (2021). ‘Most violent day’ in Hong Kong’s history: expert team ready to dig up wreckage of US warplane shot down in WWIISouth China Morning Post.

呂凝敏 (2021). 復仇者計劃|團隊成員跨三大專業 法醫人類學家首研戰機感興奮香港01.

The STEM Village (2020). STEM Village Seminars Episode 13. The STEM Villagehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eGVK8TQG8E


  • HIST2161: Making Race
  • HIST2198: World Archaeology
  • SOCI7006: Research Methods in Media, Culture and Creative Cities
  • CCST9081: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Humans