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Louise Leakey, paleoanthropologist and National Geographic explorer-in-residence, will deliver the President's Lecture in History, titled "Origins and Evolution: In Search of How We Became Human," at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 31, in the Mills Godwin Jr. Life Sciences Building.

Carrying the Leakey legacy forward into yet another generation is Louise Leakey. Born in Kenya in 1972 to renowned paleoanthropologists Meave and Richard Leakey, Louise was exposed to the world of fossil hunting and field expeditions at an early age, first joining her parents at the Turkana Basin site when she was just two weeks old. These early experiences, combined with her enterprising nature, helped spark her own passion for paleontology.

Louise attended the University of Bristol for her undergraduate studies, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology and Biology. Subsequently, she completed a PhD program in Paleontology at the University of London, where her dissertation focused on the influence of climate on faunal evolution at West Turkana between 3.3 and 1.6 million years ago.

Today, Louise leads annual expeditions to the Turkana Basin, along with her mother, Meave - including the one which resulted in the 1999 discovery of a 3.5 million-year-old skull and partial jaw, believed to belong to a new branch of early hominids, named Kenyanthropus platyops. Her efforts are now also focused on constructing a research station at Koobi Fora, East Turkana, which would help to further long-term data collection and the study of new specimens at the site - a location which has already offered rich contributions to fossil recovery. In addition, her work in the area has generated an increased awareness of and concern for the surrounding peoples, helping to raise money for the local school and medical center.

For more information call 683-3114.

This article was posted on: March 30, 2005

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