Photo by: Purwo Kuncoro

Introducing the 2019 Baldwin Fellows

Reading Time: 8 minutes

The Leakey Foundation is proud to announce the recipients of the 2019 Franklin Mosher Baldwin Memorial Fellowships and the Baldwin Fellowship Funded by the National Geographic Society.

Franklin Mosher Baldwin Memorial Fellowships are awarded to graduate students from countries where there are limited opportunities for advanced training and education in fields of research related to the study of human origins.

Many countries possess extraordinary resources in the field of prehistory but lack educational opportunities in the field of human origins research. By enabling bright young scholars to obtain graduate education, The Leakey Foundation is helping to equip these individuals to assume a leadership role in the future of paleoanthropology and primatology.

The Baldwin Fellowship program was established in 1978, and since then, many Baldwin Fellows such as Berhane Asfaw, Job Kibii, Mzalendo Kibunjia, Jackson Njau, Agazi Negash, Emma Mbua, and Fredrick Manthi (to name only a few) have gone on to have productive and distinguished careers.

Returning 2019 Baldwin Fellows:

Rosemary Anne Blersch is crouched in a shrub conducting a behavioral focal sample on an adult vervet monkey resting with others in the semi-arid karoo in South Africa.

Rosemary Ann Blersch (South Africa)

Ms. Blersch has completed 2 years of her PhD at the University of Lethbridge, Canada where she is studying animal behavior and evolution. She is looking at the relationship between primate health and sociality in vervet monkeys in the context of severe environmental stressors. Upon completion of her degree, she plans to return to her home country to establish biological anthropology as an academic discipline and to provide opportunities for South African students to work in this field.


Elihuruma Wilson Kimaro (Tanzania)

Mr. Kimaro is a second-year student in the PhD program at University of Minnesota. He is studying interactions between chimpanzees and humans on multiple spatial scales, from the local scale of interactions with researchers and tourists inside the park, to the landscape scale of the village forest reserves.

In the summer of 2018, Mr. Kimaro conducted pilot research at Gombe National Park, Tanzania, observing the behavior of chimpanzees and the people following them, including researchers and tourists. He is currently working to analyze results from this study. After obtaining his doctoral degree, he intends to return to Tanzania to work as a conservationist with the Tanzanian National Parks Authority.


Ipyana Francis Mwakyoma (Tanzania)

Mr. Mwakyoma is in his second year in the master’s degree program at Colorado State University. He is studying early hominin subsistence strategies by using quantitative 3D methods to analyze bone surface modifications on the fossils from the FLK Zinjanthropus level in Olduvai Gorge. After completing his PhD, he plans to return to Tanzania to work at The Mirror International Research Institute as a paleoanthropology researcher and to teach paleosciences at the University of Dar es Salaam.


Sharmi Sen conducting fieldwork in the Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia where she is studying the gelada monkeys.

Sharmi Sen (India)

Ms. Sen is in her second year of the doctoral program in anthropology at the University of Michigan. She is conducting her dissertation fieldwork at the Gelada Research Project in Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia for her project to ascertain which factors contribute to variation in leader males’ reproductive success. After obtaining her doctoral degree, she intends to return to research Indian primates and to teach.


New 2019 Baldwin Fellows:

Abigail Asangba in the lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Abigail Asangba (Ghana)

Ms. Asangba is a PhD candidate studying microbial ecology in primates at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ms. Asangba’s research focuses on host-microbe interactions in primates. She is interested in better understanding the factors that shape a healthy primate microbiome as well as the role of the microbiome in primate health, evolution behavior and conservation. Her goal is to become a university professor in Ghana with a research focus on the role of the primate microbiome in reproductive health.


Niguss Baraki at Ledi-Geraru, Afar, Ethiopia, heading out to set up a total station for excavation.

Niguss Baraki (Ethiopia)

Mr. Baraki is a PhD candidate in the paleoanthropology program at George Washington University. He is studying the record of stone artifacts and hominin fossils to elucidate how our ancestors made and used stone artifacts. His particular interests include examining the relationship between human behavior, anatomical development (explicitly human hand morphology), and the influence of cultural innovation over time on the evolution of human adaptive changes.

He is currently a lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Management at Addis Ababa University. Upon completion of his PhD, he intends to return there to train students to participate in research both in the field and in the laboratory. His advisor David Braun said, “I have no doubt that Mr. Baraki will be a major figure in the study of human evolution within the coming years.”


The focus of Mariam Bundala’s research is to understand how environmental change in East Africa has impacted human evolution during the Middle Pleistocene. She is shown here holding a bag of material from the Manyara Beds in Northern Tanzania.

Mariam Bundala (Tanzania)

Ms. Bundala is a PhD candidate at the University of Calgary. She is studying landscape use and how environmental change has impacted human evolution. For her PhD project, she is analyzing phytoliths from the Manyara Beds in Tanzania which are among the most important Middle Pleistocene sequences in East Africa. Her research could significantly contribute to our knowledge on the appearance of archaic Homo sapiens and the disappearance of the Acheulean Industry in Africa.

She is currently an assistant lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. After earning her doctorate, she intends to return there as a lecturer and senior researcher where she would be the only woman on the academic staff.


Amy Hatton excavating at Duynefontein, a Mid-Late Pleistocene site on the west coast of South Africa.

Amy Hatton (South Africa)

Ms. Hatton is pursuing a master’s degree in computational archaeology at University College London which will equip her with skills that are currently not available from South African universities. She intends to continue in the PhD program where she will apply computational methods to studying stone tools. She has already gained experience in archaeology by participating in four excavations across South Africa; working at the open-air Stone Age sites of Amanzi Springs and Duynefontein, as well as rock shelter/cave sites at Ga-Mohana Hill and Wonderwerk Cave. She intends to return to South Africa to conduct research and to teach.


Husna Mashaka conducting field research as part of her study of human behavioral variability in relation to climate and vegetation change in the Holocene period at the Kisese II rockshelter in Kondoa, Tanzania.

Husna Mashaka (Tanzania)

Ms. Mashaka is pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Nairobi. Her area of interest is phytolith analysis. While a student at the Koobi Fora Field School, she examined how accurately phytoliths can document the changes in vegetation cover in East Turkana during the Holocene. For her master’s thesis, she plans to reconstruct the paleoevironment of the Kisese II landscapes at Kondoa, Tanzania, by using proxy data from phytoliths. Her ultimate goal is to earn her PhD. She intends to return to Tanzania to pursue a career in archaeological research and cultural heritage management.

Nadia Saidani sorting fossil microfaunal bones from the Tighennif (Formerly Ternifine, Algeria) hominin site, under the binocular microscope.

Nadia Saidani (Algeria)

Ms. Saidani has two master’s degrees, one from the University of Algiers (Algeria) in archaeology with a specialization in Prehistoric studies and a master’s degree in quaternary geology and prehistory from the University Rovira I Virgili (Spain). She is currently a PhD candidate at the University Rovira studying micropaleontology. She has fieldwork experience in Algeria, participating in excavations at the Oldowan sites of Ain Boucherit and Ain Hanech, and the Acheulean site of Tighennif under the supervision of Professor Mohamed Sahnouni. She intends to gain scientific expertise in microvertebrate paleontology and to fill a gap in microfaunal studies in Algeria.


Michaela Tizazu with a field research assistant named Hussen. This photo was taken while conducting a paleoanthropological survey at the Mille Logia project in Afar, Ethiopia where she has been working for the past two years. The project was organized by Dr. Zeresenay Alemseged.

Michaela Zewdu Tizazu (Ethiopia)

Ms. Tizazu is a PhD student in the archaeology program at the University of Florida. She has participated in an archeological field project organized by Dr. Erella Hovers from the Hebrew University at the Early Stone Age site of Melka Wakena. She investigated the archeological record of Middle and Late Pleistocene phases in Africa. Her research goals are to elucidate the role lithic technologies play in understanding aspects of human behavior such as landscape use, social organization, economic strategies, and interactions among groups within the environment. She intends to return to Ethiopia to teach archaeology and cultural heritage management at the university level.


Peiqi Zhang participating in an excavation on the Tibetan Plateau in China.

Peiqi Zhang (China)

Ms. Zhang is a second-year PhD student in paleoanthropology in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis. Her home institute is the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, where she obtained a master’s degree of paleontology and stratigraphy. She is particularly interested in the issue of modern human dispersal between North Asia and North China, and the early human settlements on the Tibetan Plateau. She hopes to address long-standing scientific questions regarding modern humans in north China and the subsequent adaptation to high-altitude environments. As much research is written only in Chinese, she recognizes that language barriers constitute a serious obstacle to the circulation of data and ideas. She would like to contribute to increased collaborations between Chinese and English-speaking researchers.

Leakey Foundation Baldwin Fellows Funded by the National Geographic Society

Deepak Choudhary taking GPS location and geological data at Ramnagar, a hominid locality in Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir in India.

Deepak Choudhary (India)

Mr. Choudhary has a master’s degree in earth and geological sciences from the University of Punjab and is now pursuing his PhD at the City University of New York. His studies are focused on primate paleontology and evolution. During his time in New York, he has access to collections at the American Museum of Natural History where he hopes to expand his ability to identify Miocene mammalian fauna. After obtaining his PhD, he plans to continue in academia in India. This fellowship was funded in partnership with the National Geographic Society.

Comments 1

One response to “Introducing the 2019 Baldwin Fellows”

  1. Dr Emma Mbua says:

    I do commend the Leakey Foundation for their continued financial support over the years to students from the third world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Content

Introducing the fall 2023 Research Grant recipients

01.17.24 Grants
Reading Time: 4 minutes The Leakey Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of our fall 2023 Research Grants. These outstanding scientists are leading groundbreaking studies that will expand our understanding of humanity.