President Stanley in Africa

President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. traveled to Madagascar and Kenya this summer to experience Stony Brook University’s commitment to improving lives around the world. During his two-week adventure, he visited three sites that feature some of Stony Brook’s most far-reaching research and development efforts.

Day Eleven - Turkana Basin Institute Research and Outreach

TBI fossilsThe day began with breakfast with a group of Stony Brook students who are doing research at Turkana Basin Institute (TBI) with Professor John Shea from the Department of Anthropology. After this we made a visit to the school built by TBI for local children. My guide was Ikal Angelei, who earned her MA in Public Policy at Stony Brook in 2010. Ikal oversees a wide range of community engagement activities for TBI on the west side of Lake Turkana. She was one of six recipients of this year’s Goldman Environmental Prize for her efforts to block construction of a dam that would have had a devastating effect on Lake Turkana and the communities that depend on it for its resources.

We then visited a maternity clinic built by TBI with support from Stony Brook University and Safari.com Foundation. This clinic provides six beds for mothers giving birth and for the first time in this area provides electric light for nighttime births. The power for the lights comes from an experimental biogas project that uses goat and cow dung to produce gas to run a generator and to provide cooking for the clinic's nurse. Exciting to see Stony Brook involved in projects combining health and energy and geared to solutions that could serve communities in remote regions of sub-Saharan Africa.

Returning to TBI-Turkwel we visited an experiment to farm catfish and tilapia in a series of ponds using water from the Turkwel River. Faculty and graduate students from SoMAS have been instrumental in planning this project designed to develop scalable solutions to provide high protein foods to people currently largely dependent on food aid.

The afternoon was spent exploring Pliocene sediments (about 3.5 myr old) with Stony Brook Research Professor Meave Leakey searching for the fossilized remains of ancient mammals, reptiles and fish. This experience increased my appreciation for the effort and skill involved in building the huge record of human and mammal evolution in the Turkana basin. Finding fossils is not easy! The Leakey family's work (Richard, Meave and Louise are all faculty members at Stony Brook University) is truly extraordinary.

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