Paleontologist, conservationist, and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Louise Leakey represents the third generation of the famous Leakey family of fossil hunters in East Africa. With an adventurous spirit and unwavering focus on the advancement of our understanding of human origins, she has spent much of her life leading expeditions into the remote badlands of northern Kenya.
With her team, The Koobi Fora Research Project, she has made discoveries that have shaped our understanding of the journey of humanity over the past 4 million years. Several highly publicized finds, such as that of the new genus Kenyanthropus platyops, have challenged our understanding of human evolution.
In August 2012, Dr. Leakey and her mother, Meave announced the discovery of three new fossils that confirm there were several extinct human ancestors that existed in east Africa some 2 million years ago. The field research continues and each year exciting new discoveries are made as part of a quest to understand our origins.
From her early childhood spent among the nomadic desert people of Lake Turkana, Dr. Leakey has developed a deep attachment to northern Kenya, its wildlife, and its cultural heritage. 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.
Dr. Leakey appeared alongside her parents, Richard and Meave, in the recent National Geographic film Bones of Turkana. She is an alumni of the Young Global Leaders and was a speaker at TED in 2008. Dr. Leakey also manages their family vineyard on the edge of the Rift Valley, producing both Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay.
Dr. Leakey is a research assistant professor at the University of Stony Brook and the director of public education and outreach of the Turkana Basin Institute. The long term effort of search, excavation, paleo-ecological and geological analyses make the Turnkana Basin one of the most comprehensive sources of information regarding the origins and evolution of humans. She also sits on the advising board of the Centre for Communicating Science and on the advising board of the Sea Shepherd.
She recently launched the interactive site AfricanFossils.org, which features interactive digital models of many of the important fossils from the Turkana Basin. These are showcased in a virtual laboratory and promoted through social media in an effort to engage a worldwide audience
“Louise did a wonderful job! Her talk and the professional-quality slides were excellent. She spoke at a good pace and with an excellent use of humor. I highly recommend her.”
-Foothill College for Celebrity Forum