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 major discoveries, such as the genus Kenyanthropus platyops, that have shaped and challenged our understanding of humanity’s 4 million year journey. In August 2012, Dr. Leakey and her mother, Meave, discovered of three new fossils that confirm there were several extinct human ancestors that existed in east Africa some 2 million years ago.
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 professor in anthropology 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 is the Chair of the Board of the National Museums of Kenya and also sits on the advisory board of the Centre for Communicating Science and the advisory 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. They are showcased in a virtual laboratory and promoted through social media in an effort to engage a worldwide audience.
- Louise Leakey's TED discussion on human origins and extinction
- Leakey on The African Origins of the Human Species (2008)
- Leakey on The Diversity of the Human Species
- Which Way Next with Louise Leakey at Singularity University
- Dr. Louise Leakey on Conservation and the Need to Protect Marine Life
In Passion for Discovery, Louise Leakey takes us deep into Northern Kenya, where the first family of science, the Leakeys, and a team of fossil hunters have spent years uncovering the secrets of the past. Louise gives her firsthand account that led to the discovery of several key finds that made a lasting impact to our picture of the past. Through her experience, Louise describes the need for better technology for more efficient excavations.Read More >
Louise Leakey describes forty years of excavation and discovery of east Africa’s Lake Turkana. In her firsthand account of several recent discoveries made by her team, Louise shows how these findings fit into the story of the Human Journey, and how the fossils provide an opportunity to reflect upon our future as a species.Read More >