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Louise Leakey

Paleontologist; National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence

Paleontologist; National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence

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Louise Leakey Biography

Fourth-generation Kenyan Louise Leakey has upheld the Leakey family legacy in the field of Palaeoanthropology through continuing research in the Turkana Basin of northern Kenya. Daughter of renowned palaeoanthropologists Meave and Richard Leakey, Louise first set foot in the region at age six weeks. Since then, she has spent considerable time on many field expeditions, and today she co-directs the Koobi Fora Research Project with her mother, Dr. Meave Leakey.

Now an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Stony Brook in New York, Dr. Leakey is helping to develop a major centre for human origins research that will include field programs for students. Louise is a Ph.D. graduate of London University, where her research focused on the influence of climate change 3.5 to 1.5 million years ago in the fossil deposits of the Turkana Basin.

Dr. Leakey was recently named a Young Global Leader for the World Economic Forum, in recognition of the importance of both her scientific contributions and community efforts. In March 2001, Louise Leakey and a group of scientists led by Meave Leakey unearthed a 3.5. million year old skull belonging to a new species of our early human family. This find was announced in the journal Nature, and had profound implications in our understanding of human origins. In a front page article, The New York Times reported that “this discovery threatens to overturn the prevailing view that a single line of decent stretched through the early stages of human ancestry.”

In addition to the long term field studies in the Turkana Basin, Dr. Leakey has worked closely with the local communities to increase funding for local schools and medical centres. In addition, she has spent considerable time working alongside the Sibiloi National Park authorities to ensure the protection of some of the richest fossil sites within the Park boundaries. This has included flying aerial surveys to monitor and control livestock encroachment that continues to threaten this World Heritage Site. In 2005 she was selected to participate in the World Economic Forum in Davos, the aim of which is to understand the problems and risks the world faces in the future.

Dr. Leakey lives in Kenya with her husband, Emmanuel de Merode, and their young daughter, Seiyia. An avid photographer and a conservationist, she sits on the advisory board of Sea Shepherd International, whose efforts in the Galapagos have given the islands world attention. Among her other pursuits, she manages the Leakey family vineyard where, on the edge of the Great Rift Valley, they produce one of East Africa’s finest Pinot Noirs.

Louise Leakey Videos

  • Digging for humanity's origins - Louise Leakey
    View full lesson: Louise Leakey asks, "Who are we?" The question takes her...

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  • What topics does Louise Leakey speak about?

    Louise Leakey is a keynote speaker and industry expert whose speaking topics include Activism, Adventurers, Science and Technology, Virtual Speakers.
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Louise Leakey is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics . The estimated speaking fee range to book Louise Leakey for your event is available upon request. Louise Leakey generally travels from and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Hugh Evans, Neil Blumenthal, Pete Cashmore, Paul Rieckhoff and Sebastien Marot. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Louise Leakey for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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