Friday, April 5, 2013

Leakey Educates the Sacramento Speakers Crowd

Paleontologist, conservationist, educator and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Louise Leakey spoke to a sold-out crowd of Sacramento Speakers Series patrons Wednesday, February 27, 2013.  She spoke passionately about her work in the field as well as the future of her research.

Leakey is the youngest member of the famous Leakey family of fossil hunters in East Africa. With an adventurous spirit and unwavering focus on the advancement and understanding of human origins, she has spent much of her life leading expeditions into the remote badlands of northern Kenya. From these groundbreaking forays, Dr. Leakey and her team have yielded some of our deepest insights into what it is that makes us human.

Her team, The Koobi Fora Research Project, has made discoveries that have shaped modern thinking on the journey of humanity over the past 4 million years. One of the most publicized discoveries, Kenyanthropus platyops, challenged the earlier theories on the path of human evolution. Whether the fossil can be classified as a new genus, separate species, or unique looking individual is still up for debate.

From her earliest childhood spent among the nomadic desert people of Lake Turkana, Leakey has developed a deep attachment to the wildlife and cultural heritage of northern Kenya. Today she draws on her scientific background in human origins to work with the local communities in building a future for this region in a dramatically changing world.

Leakey co-directs the state of the art research center in the Turkana Basin where the rigorous process of search, excavation, and paleoecological and geological analysis make it one of the most comprehensive sources of information regarding the origins and evolution of humans.

Simultaneously, Dr. Leakey's work has allowed her to gain a unique perspective on the protection of the desert environment in Africa. Dr. Leakey also works with wildlife authorities to preserve the unique flora and fauna of Kenya's remotest National Park and World Heritage Site. Additionally, she is involved with various community projects near the Ethiopian border, in an effort to improve the welfare of people on the National Park boundaries.

She was recently selected to participate in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The aims of the summit revolve around better understanding the problems and risks the world faces in the future. 

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