Meave Leakey Accepts Membership into Elite American Philosophical Society

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Meave LeakeyWorld-renowned paleoanthropologist Meave Leakey, a research professor in Stony Brook University’s Department of Anthropology, has been given the elite honor of membership in the eminent American Philosophical Society (APS). The APS is the oldest learned society in the US, founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin for the purpose of “promoting useful knowledge.” Only 5,573 members have been elected since its inception.

Meave is director of field research at the Turkana Basin Institute in Kenya, a unique nonprofit initiative co-founded by the Leakey family and Stony Brook to drive research for studying the origins of humankind. While maintaining her positions as director of field research at the TBI and research professor for Stony Brook, Meave takes a leading role in the TBI’s Origins Field School, which offers both full-semester and summer abroad programs for undergraduates of all majors to study human evolution hands-on at Lake Turkana.

Among many major discoveries, her team uncovered remains of a new species and the oldest known hominin to date, Australopithecus anamensis. More than 4 million years old, those fossils revealed that bipedalism, the ability to walk upright, evolved half a million years earlier than researchers once thought. Meave’s team also uncovered a 3.5-million-year-old skull and partial jaw belonging to an early hominin they named Kenyanthropus platyops. This discovery showed that a third species of Homo lived around the same time as Homo habilis and Homo erectus, significantly impacting how we view human ancestry today.

In 2016 Meave received the National Geographic Society’s highest honor, the Hubbard Medal, in recognition of her groundbreaking anthropological finds and continued dedication and inspiration to her field of research. She is also a research affiliate at the National Museums of Kenya, a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and an African Academy of Sciences fellow.

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