Koobi Fora Field School Alumni

Karari Sunrise
Karari Sunset (Photo Credit Lorena Benitez '16)

After they roughed the Karari and cleaned the Ileret sand out of their tent...

The Koobi Fora Field School has been training some of the best and brightest students for over 20 years. Many of them go on to a career in academia. Many are successful in a variety of other occupations. Here are just a few of the scholars that have spent hours recovering fossils from the Okote Member silts and made the hike out to the KNM-ER 1470 site. 

Holly Dunsworth

After leaving KFFS Holly received her PhD at University of Pennsylvania. She is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Rhode Island. Holly performs paleoanthropological fieldwork on Rusinga and Mfangano Islands in Western Kenya. Fossils from these sites represent plants and animals that lived in the early Miocene epoch (dating to about 20-18 million years ago), some of which, like the primate Proconsul, are good candidates for some of the earliest apes. Holly also studies energy use in apes and other mammals. Mammals process energy differently from one another and these differences may reflect different evolutionary selection pressures both internally within the organism and externally from the environment. Holly is a 2 time award winner of her Universities' early career research award and is an avid blogger at The Mermaid's Tale.

Jude Magaro 

Jude was one of our more tenacious Koobi Fora field school students in 2012. We are pleased to report that he graduated from Texas A&M University, as a University Research Scholar in 2012, after receiving several internal grants to complete his undergraduate research project. He is now completing his MA at the Hunter University in New York. 

Jennifer Eyre

After completing the Koobi Fora field school in 2011, Jennifer graduated from the University of Washington summa cum laude. She is currently a third year PhD student studying physical anthropology with Dr. Scott Williams at New York University’s NYCEP program. To support her PhD research, Jennifer was awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship in 2013, which provides both tuition and a stipend for three years. 

Lee Berger

Prof. Lee R. Berger Ph.D. D.Sc. FRSSAf ASSAf is an award-winning researcher, explorer, author, palaeoanthropologist and speaker. He is the recipient of the National Geographic Society's first Prize for Research and Exploration and the Academy of Achievement's Golden Plate Award.    His work has brought him recognition as a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and the South African Academy of Sciences and prominent advisory positions including the Chairmanship of the Fulbright Commission of South Africa, the Senior Advisory Board of the Global Young Academy and the Centre of Excellence in PalaeoSciences of South Africa among many others. He has been awarded several humanitarian awards including the Boy Scout Medal of Honor for saving a life and the Red Cross Certificate of Merit. In addition his efforts in conservation have been recognized by the William T. Hornaday Award and Georgia's Youth Conservationist of the Year.

His explorations into human origins on the African continent, Asia and Micronesia for the past two and a half decades have resulted in many new discoveries, including the most complete early hominin fossils ever discovered that belong to a new species of early human ancestor -Australopithecus sediba.  His contributions to exploration sciences have also resulted in advances in the field of applied exploration methods and the application of technology to exploration, excavation and discovery.


Wei Chu


Dr. Wei Chu is a Research Fellow at the University of Cologne specializing in the geoarcheology and site formation processes of Pleistocene Europe. His current research project is on the Upper Palaeolithic of the Eastern Mediterranean and Balkan Peninsula during the last glacial period.  Dr. Chu’s past research has been on British and French Lower/Middle Palaeolithic sites. He is currently the editor of the Journal “Lithics.”

Marian Hamilton 


Marian attended the Koobi Fora field school in 2013 after her first year in graduate school. She continued her exciting field research this year at Kibale National Park, Uganda. Her PhD research uses strontium isotopes to study the ranging behavior of male and female primates in Kibale National Park, Uganda. These modern baselines will be used as a model for hominin land use behaviors in a variety of habitats. Marian is currently a PhD student at the University of New Mexico and a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship.

Scott Blumenthal

Scott is a PhD candidate at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, New York. His dissertation work focuses on hominin paleoenvironments in eastern Africa; specifically, he uses isotope records from tooth enamel to study climate, vegetation, and mammalian ecologies. His field research includes reconstructing the Plio-Pleistocene environments at sites near modern Lake Victoria in Kenya. Scott has received numerous grants in support of his research including the NSF’s Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant and a Young Explorer’s Grant from the National Geographic. His recent work on gorillas was published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Jenna Lavin


Jenna studied palaeoanthropology and participated in the Koobi Fora Field School from 2006 to 2009. She received her Masters degree from the UCT Department of Archaeology in 2010 and has, since then, been employed in the service of various heritage authorities, currently Heritage Western Cape. As the Assistant Director for Policy, Research and Planning, Jenna is responsible for the identification, declaration and conservation of new Provincial Heritage Sites. She is currently working on finishing her second Masters degree in Conservation of the Built Environment from the UCT Department of Architecture.

Joanne Munga

Joanne was one of our students during the 2009 Koobi Fora Field School. She went ahead to complete her Masters in Archaeology at the University of Nairobi. She is currently a first year PhD student in the human paleobiology program at the George Washington University. Joanne was awarded a Wenner-Gren Foundation fellowship in 2016 to support her PhD studies.

J. Tyler Faith

Tyler Faith attended the Koobi Fora Field School in 2004. He went on to obtain his Ph.D. in Hominid Paleobiology (2011) from The George Washington University and is now a Lecturer (= Assistant Professor) in Archaeology at the University of Queensland in Australia. He currently directs fieldwork exploring Middle-to-Late Pleistocene archaeology, paleontology, and paleoenvironments in southern and western Kenya.

Niguss Baraki

Niguss Baraki was one of the first graduates with a degree in Archaeology from the University of Addis Ababa. He then went on to receive a Masters in Archaeology from the same institution.  He was a Lecturer in Archaeology at Aksum University and now teaches at Addis Ababa University. He is an active member fo the Ledi-Geraru Research project and has completed coursework at the Turkana Basin Institute