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Louise Leakey
Paleontologist 
 National Geographic Explorer
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Louise Leakey
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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, Louise has spent much of her life leading expeditions into the remote badlands of northern Kenya. 

With her team, The Koobi Fora Research Project, Dr. Leakey has made major discoveries, such as the genus Kenyanthropus platyops, that have reshaped our understanding of humanity’s 4-million-year journey. In recent years, Dr. Leakey and her mother, Meave, have continued to explore the fossil areas with their team of fossil hunters and have uncovered the remains of hominin and other animals from deposits dating back 4 million years.

A fourth-generation Kenyan, Louise is the daughter of renowned paleoanthropologists, Meave and Richard Leakey, and granddaughter of Louis and Mary Leakey, whose initial discoveries at Olduvai Gorge put Africa on the paleoanthropological map.

Spending her early childhood 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 and build a future for this region in a dramatically changing world.

A research Professor in Anthropology at the University of Stony Brook, Dr. Leakey is the director of public education and outreach of the Turkana Basin Institute (TBI). A major centre for human origins research, the TBI also runs field programs for students from two research stations in northern Kenya.

Louise sits on the international advisory board of the TBI, the advisory boards of the Centre for Communicating Science, Wild Nature, and the Sea Shepherd (USA), and is the Chair of the Board of the National Museums of Kenya.

Her recent collaboration with Autodesk, TBI, and National Museums of Kenya has produced AfricanFossils.org, a virtual laboratory that showcases digital replicas of significant fossil discoveries from the Turkana Basin.

Dr. Leakey appeared alongside her parents in the National Geographic film Bones of Turkana. In recognition of her scientific contributions and community efforts, she is an alumnus of the Young Global Leaders. Her many public speaking engagements include the TED stage in 2008. Louise is a Ph.D. graduate of University College London.

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Videos
  • 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
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Speaking Topics
Passion for Discovery: Revelations Into How We Became Human

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.

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A Human Journey: What Fossils Tell Us

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.

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Technology Applied: A New Look at Old Fossils
Keywords
Activism
Adventure
Africa
Commencement Speakers
DNA
Debates
Developing World
Education
Environment
Evolution
Exploration
Human Origin
Nature
Paleoanthropology
Pre-History
Residencies
Science
Wildlife
Women
World Economic Forum