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.
He is the author of more than two hundred scholarly and popular works including more than 100 refereed papers and a number of academic and popular books on palaeontology, natural history, and exploration. His work has been featured three times on the cover of Science, and has been named the top 100 science stories of the year by Time, Scientific American and Discover Magazine on numerous occasions. He has appeared in many television documentaries on subjects related to archaeology, palaeoanthropology and natural history.
He was a founder of the Palaeoanthropological Scientific Trust which today is the largest non-profit organization in Africa supporting research into Human Origins and founding Trustee of the Jane Goodall Society of South Africa. He is Director of one of the largest palaeontological projects in history, leading over 100 researchers in investigations of the Malapa site in South Africa as well as leading the Rising Star Expedition in 2013 resulting in the discovery of the largest primitive hominin assemblage in history.
He is an avid diver and adventurer and holds a PADI Divemaster certificate among many other specialties.
Berger was born in Shawnee Mission Kansas and grew up in rural Georgia. He was a member of Troop 341 of the Coastal Empire Council. He was awarded his Eagle Scout in 1983 achieving his silver and gold palms.
Berger is presently the Research Professor in Human Evolution and the Public Understanding of Science at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa and an Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society. He holds a Ph.D. in palaeoanthropology and a Doctor of Science in the same field.