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News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

02-07-08

Pruetz

ISU Associate Professor of Anthropology Jill Pruetz. Photo by Jim Heemstra.

Contacts:

Jill Pruetz, Anthropology, pruetz@iastate.edu

Caroline Braun, National Geographic Society, (202) 862-8281, cbraun@ngs.org

Dave Gieseke, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, (515) 294-7742, dgieseke@iastate.edu

Mike Ferlazzo, News Service, (515) 294-8986, ferlazzo@iastate.edu

ISU anthropologist Pruetz named National Geographic Emerging Explorer for 2008

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University anthropologist Jill Pruetz has been selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer for 2008, in part for her world renowned research on savanna chimpanzees in Senegal. The 11 new Emerging Explorers are featured in the February issue of National Geographic magazine.

According to its Web site (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/emerging), National Geographic's Emerging Explorers Program recognizes and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring young adventurers, scientists, photographers and storytellers -- rising talents who are already making a difference early in their fields.

"The Emerging Explorers Program was created to recognize the next generation of adventurers, researchers, photographers and storytellers," said Susan Reeve, director, Explorers Program & Special Projects, National Geographic Society. "Like the kindred Explorer-in-Residence program, it spotlights inspiring and visionary individuals while still early in their careers."

The Emerging Explorers each receive a $10,000 award to assist with research and to aid further exploration. PNY Technologies is the mission partner and "Flash Memory of Choice" for the Emerging Explorers Program.

A career achievement

An associate professor of anthropology who is currently on research leave at her site in Fongoli, Senegal, Pruetz sees the award as a career highlight thus far.

"Like many other scientists I know, I grew up with National Geographic, and being honored by the organization is one of the highest honors I can think of," Pruetz said.

According to Reeve, the Emerging Explorers Program does not accept applications or unsolicited nominations. National Geographic relies on a network of experts who nominate new candidates each year.

The new class of Emerging Explorers will officially be introduced during the second annual National Geographic Explorers Symposium, Monday-Friday, April 7-11, at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. During the event, the new honorees will get the opportunity to meet National Geographic Fellows and Explorers-in-Residence.

Pruetz made global news last February with her study reporting that chimpanzees from her site are using spear-shaped tools to hunt. The discovery was ranked second among Wired News' "Top 10 Scientific Breakthroughs of 2007".

Pruetz to be featured in PBS documentary

The ISU primatologist was accompanied last summer to her Senegal research site by a video crew that will include her discovery in a Public Broadcasting System "Nova" documentary titled "Ape Genius" (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/apegenius/), which is scheduled to air on February 19 at 7 p.m. central time. A reporter and photographer from National Geographic magazine also spent much of the summer with Pruetz in Senegal for a feature story on her work, which will appear in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

Hunting tools used in Pruetz's discovery are on display in the collection of artifacts found in the main lobby of National Geographic's headquarters. They are also expected to be included in a Smithsonian Institution exhibit in 2009, according to Richard Potts, director, Human Origins Program, National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian.

In addition to her work in Senegal, Pruetz conducts fieldwork around the world, shedding light on how ecology influences today's primates and shaped early human behavior. She is co-founder of the nonprofit organization DANTA, which is affiliated with the El Zota Biological Field Station in Costa Rica, where she has taught courses on primate behavior and ecology. She has also previously studied spider monkeys, howler monkeys, tamarins, patas and vervets in such locales as Peru, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Kenya and Senegal.

Pruetz is teaching an online ISU course, "Primate Behavior" (Anthr 350x/550x), in March. The class will feature live streaming video from the field in Senegal. The three-credit course is an introduction to primates, with a focus on their behavior.

Pruetz's research is supported by grants from the National Geographic Society, National Science Foundation, Leakey Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Great Ape Conservation Grant, Primate Conservation Inc., the Great Ape Trust of Iowa, and Iowa State University.

The other Emerging Explorers for 2008 are social environmental advocate Alexandra Cousteau, of Arlington, Va.; marine conservationist Brad Norman, of Serpentine, Australia; sustainable agriculture and development experts Cid Simes and Paola Segura, of Lauro de Freitas, Brazil; wildlife conservationist Hammerskjoeld Simwinga, of Mpika, Zambia; environmental conservationist Tsetsegee Munkhbayar, of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; humanitarian and musician Zinhle Thabethe, of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa; new media cultural storytellers Sol Guy and Josh Thome, of Vancouver, Canada; and zoologist and physiological ecologist Martin Wikelski, of Princeton, N.J.

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Quick look

ISU Associate Professor of Anthropology Jill Pruetz has been selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer for 2008. The Emerging Explorers Program recognizes and supports young adventurers, scientists, photographers and storytellers -- rising talents who are already making a difference early in their fields.

Video

View with RealPlayer

Pruetz reacts from Senegal

From the field

See chimps and Pruetz in Senegal
(Des Moines Register web site)

Quote

"Like many other scientists I know, I grew up with National Geographic, and being honored by the organization is one of the highest honors I can think of."

Jill Pruetz