A National Geographic expert will accompany each departure to share insights and a rare behind-the-scenes perspective. Listed below are some of the experts and the departure date(s) they will be joining.
Christopher Sloan is an award-winning author and art director who specializes in bringing non-visual scientific research to life for diverse audiences. Christopher worked with National Geographic magazine from 1992 to 2010 as Art Director, Senior Editor, and Director of Mission Projects. During this time, he played a key role in developing and producing the magazine’s archaeology, paleoanthropology, and paleontology stories as well as other stories about the Society’s grantees. These include many popular cover stories, such as Dawn of Humans, Neanderthals, Evolution of Mammals, Sea Monsters, Rise and Fall of the Maya, Bizarre Dinosaurs, and Secrets of Stonehenge. Christopher has also written feature articles for National Geographic, including “Found: Earliest Child,” the November 2006 cover story about the discovery of a 3.3 million-year-old baby human ancestor in Ethiopia. While on a dig in remote western China, he discovered a new genus of prehistoric crocodile—Jungaarsuchus sloanii—that now bears his name.
Christopher's enthusiasm for communicating about science to a broad audience extends to popular literature and children’s books. What Does it Mean to be Human?, co-authored with Rick Potts, is a companion book to the popular new Human Origins hall of Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Christopher has also written eight award-winning children’s books for National Geographic, including Mummies, How Dinosaurs Took Flight,and The Human Story, prepared in collaboration with Meave Leakey.
As a science communicator, Christopher enjoys lecturing on visualizing science. Currently, he serves as chairman of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology’s Lanzendorf Paleoart Committee and is an active member of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Evolutionary Synthesis Center workshop on improving public understanding of human origins. He is president of Science Visualization, a Washington, D.C.-area-based company that specializes in developing science content for television, exhibitions, and print.
University of Pennsylvania professor and National Geographic grantee Harold Dibble currently directs excavations at the cave of La Ferrrassie in Dordogne, France, and at the Grotte des Contrebandiers (Smugglers' Cave) in Morocco. A recent National Geographic Channel Naked Science episode, "World's Oldest Child," focused on his and his team's discovery of a roughly 108,000-year-old human fossil at the latter site. Harold pioneered the use of GIS and other spatial technology tools for the study of ancient humans and hominids, and he has co-authored more than a dozen books. He has conducted field research at the French Paleolithic sites of Combe-Capelle bas, Cagny-l’Epinette, Fontéchevade, Pech de l’Azé IV, and Roc de Marsal, and he was co-director of the Abydos Survey for Paleolithic Sites in the desert surrounding Abydos, Egypt. He is Curator-in-Charge of the European Archaeology Section and was formerly Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs at the Penn Museum.
Paleoanthropologist Chris Stringer has worked at the Natural History Museum London since 1973, where he now leads research in Human Origins. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society. Chris's early research was on the relationship of Neanderthals and early modern humans in Europe. Through his work on the "Recent African Origin" model for modern human origins, he now collaborates with archaeologists, dating specialists, and geneticists in attempting to reconstruct the evolution of modern humans globally. He has excavated at sites in Britain and abroad, and is currently leading the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain project in its third phase (AHOB3). He has published more than 250 scientific papers, and his recent books include Homo Britannicus: The Incredible Story of Human Life in Britain, The Complete World of Human Evolution (with Peter Andrews), and Lone Survivors.
National Geographic grantee Ana Pinto is a Spanish archaeologist working in the field of human evolution. She earned her masters and doctoral degrees in the Human Origins group at London's Natural History Museum, then worked as a post-doctoral fellow with Donald Johanson at Arizona State University's Institute of Human Origins. Her fields of interest include fossilization processes, ancient environments, early human diets, and the origins of modern human behavior as expressed in Europe over the last 40,000 years. Ana has conducted much of her research in caves and rock shelters requiring vertical rope techniques in Spain, Tanzania, and Kenya. She has also participated in excavation and field research projects in England, South Africa, and Armenia. In 2001 Ana discovered the Sopeña rockshelter, which contains a long archaeological stratigraphy bearing evidence to the last millenia of Neanderthal life and the immediate substitution by Cro-magnon. Ana was part of the Atapuerca team during the years of major discoveries at this World Heritage-listed archaeological site, and received the prestigous Prince of Asturias Prize in 1997 awarded to the Atapuerca Team. She was the 2005 Humanities Awardee of the Wings World Quest Foundation and named Spanish Distinguished Researcher in 2006 by the Spanish Government.
Paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson is best known as the man who discovered “Lucy,” the 3.2-million-year-old partial skeleton and hominin ancestor to Homo sapiens. An accomplished scientist, scholar, and National Geographic grantee, Donald has helped piece together the puzzle of human evolution. He is the founder of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University and the author of the book Lucy’s Legacy: The Quest for Human Origins. His work has been featured many times in National Geographic magazine and television documentaries.
James (Jamie) Shreeve is Executive Editor for Science at National Geographic magazine. Before joining the Geographic staff in 2006, he was a freelance science writer and author specializing in human evolution and biology. His books include The Genome War; The Neandertal Enigma: Solving the Mystery of Modern Human Origins, named by Doris Lessing as “Book of the Year” in 1996; Lucy's Child: The Discovery of a Human Ancestor (with Donald Johanson), and Nature: The Other Earthlings, the companion volume to the public television series. Jamie received his B.A. in English from Brown University in 1973. A 1979 graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, he contributed fiction to various literary magazines before turning to science writing. From 1983 to 1985, he was Public Information Director at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts and founding director of the MBL Science Writing Fellowship Program. He has been awarded fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Alicia Patterson Foundation, and the Knight Foundation. He lives in Bellport, New York, and Washington, D.C.
John Echave is a photojournalist and a 20-year National Geographic veteran. As senior editor for photography and research grants, he produced and edited 217 stories and 37 covers for National Geographic magazine. Among the many stories on human evolution he produced are "Lucy's Child," "Chauvet Cave," "Meet Kenya Man," "Dawn of Humans," and "Peopling of the Americas." As the magazine's representative to the Committee for Research and Exploration, John worked closely with the Society's grantees, including paleontologists such as Meave and Louise Leakey, Donald Johanson, Ana Christina Pinto-Llona, and others in an effort to publish their findings. John's grandparents were Basques and he has spent a considerable amount of time in France and the Basque country of Spain.
Paleoanthropologist, geologist, and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Zeray Alemseged leads exploration at Busidima-Dikika, which is yielding important clues about the history of human evolution and the divergence of hominids from other primates. In 2000 at this site in the Ethiopian desert, Zeray discovered the bones of a 3.3-million-year-old girl, Selam, of the hominin species Australopithecus afarensis—a find supported in part by research grants from National Geographic.