Photo by: Purwo Kuncoro

Announcing the 2022 Francis H. Brown African Scholars

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The Leakey Foundation proudly announces the 2022 Francis H. Brown African Scholars, Georgina Luti and Venanzio Munyaka.

The Francis H. Brown African Scholarship Fund was created in honor of Dr. Francis H. Brown, an eminent geologist who served on The Leakey Foundation’s Scientific Executive Committee for many years. Brown devoted more than five decades to mapping and analyzing the geology of northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia, and his work provided a way to place fossil finds in chronological order.

During his time working in Ethiopia and Kenya, Frank Brown became an expert in not only the geology but also the plant life of the Omo-Turkana basin. He studied several languages, including Kiswahili, Kikamba, Kikuyu, and Turkana. Along the way, he sponsored the education of many Ethiopian and Kenyan university students.

Every year, through this scholarship fund, The Leakey Foundation supports East African students and researchers whose work is focused on the earth sciences or botany related to human origins. Read on to learn more about the 2022 Francis H. Brown African Scholars!

Georgina Luti examines ant species that live on acacia trees at Mpala Research Centre. Photo credit: Rosie Bryson.

Georgina Luti, Kenya

Georgina Luti is a doctoral student in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology from the University of Nairobi. She also trained at the Turkana Basin Institute field school, where she learned about ecology, paleontology, geology, archaeology, and palaeoanthropology.

In addition, Luti completed a four-year internship in the paleontology section of the Earth Sciences Department at the National Museums of Kenya. During her tenure there, she was part of field expeditions in West Turkana and Baringo. She has also worked with UNESCO, helping to assess the sustainability of water resources in Nairobi’s urban areas.

Her PhD research interests are isotope geochemistry for radiometric dating and palaeoenvironment and palaeoclimatic reconstruction. She aims to teach at a Kenyan university and introduce isotope geochemistry to a new generation of students.

Venanzio Munyaka samples paleosols across the K-Pg boundary in Big Bend, Texas.
Photo credit: Anna Lesko

Venanzio Munyaka, Kenya

Venanzio Munyaka graduated from the University of Eldoret, Kenya, and worked as an intern in the Palynology and Paleobotany Section of the Earth Sciences Department at the National Museums of Kenya. During his internship, he applied pollen, diatom, and phytolith analyses to both modern and fossil collections to reconstruct environments through time. He attended the 2019 Koobi Fora Training and Research Program, an international 6-week program jointly administered by the George Washington University and the National Museums of Kenya.

Munyaka is in the master’s program in the Department of Geosciences at Baylor University, working with Daniel Peppe as his advisor. At Baylor, he studies fossil leaves from the Koru region in western Kenya, using them to reconstruct the vegetation, paleoenvironment, and paleoclimate of the sites. His work will allow us to better understand the habitat preferences and early evolution of hominoids and catarrhines.

His goal is to work at the National Museums of Kenya, where he can use his knowledge to advance research in Kenya and assist other young Kenyans in developing careers in the study of human evolution.

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