Dr. Sylvia A. Earle (National Geographic Society Explorer in Residence). Dr. Earle is an oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer with experience as a field research scientist, government official, and director for corporate and non-profit organizations including the Kerr McGee Corporation, Dresser Industries, Oryx Energy, the Aspen Institute, the Conservation Fund, American Rivers, Mote Marine Laboratory, Duke University Marine Laboratory, Rutgers Institute for Marine Science, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and Ocean Futures.
Professor Christopher Henshilwood is a Research Professor at the Institute for Human Evolution, University of the Witwatersrand and holds a South African Research Chair in the Origins of Modern Human Behaviour funded by the National Research Foundation. Additionally, he is Professor of African Archaeology at the Institute for Archaeology, History Culture and Religion at the University of Bergen in Norway. He directs the Blombos Cave Project in South Africa, a major archaeological research initiative that is contributing significantly to the international debate on the origins of what is considered modern human behaviour. Since 1991, he has led the excavations at this site that have uncovered marine shell beads, engraved ochres and bone tools that date to 75,000 years ago. These finds are widely believed to signify that southern Africa was a primary centre for the early development of modern human behaviour and for the evolution of complex language. He has published widely in scientific journals, has been invited to give public lectures in Europe, America, Asia and Africa, has presented a number of television and radio programs, and regularly writes articles for popular publications.
Professor Charles Griffiths was born in Kenya and educated at Blundell’s Public School in Devon, UK, before proceeding to Southampton University (UK), where he was awarded a BSc (Hons), followed by a PhD from the University of Cape Town. He has been a member of the University of Cape Town staff since the age of 22, rising through the ranks from Research Assistant to Full Professor and has been Director of the UCT Marine Biology Research Centre for over 25 years. His main current research interests are the documentation of marine biodiversity and the impacts of marine alien species. He is an author of papers describing over 100 species new to science and is responsible for recording over 100 additional species in South Africa for the first time. He is author of six guide books to the South African fauna, including the two best-selling field guides: ‘Two Oceans – a Guide to the Marine Life of South Africa’ (8th printings and three editions) and ‘Field Guide to the Insects of South Africa’ (now in its 7th printing). He has published 32 book chapters, 150 research articles and 50 semi-popular scientific articles. He is also author of 157 conference presentations and has convened four conferences. Over 55 masters and PhD students have graduated under has supervision, with a further six MSc and six PhD students currently under supervision. He is a recipient of the UCT book award, is a Life Fellow of the University of Cape Town, a Team Member of the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence in Invasion Biology and winner of the Gold Medal of the Zoological Society of South Africa. He is a former editor of the journal African Zoology and a current or former member of the editorial boards of the journals Marine Biology, Koedoe, Smithiana, Animals and African Natural History. In his recreation time he is a serious natural history photographer and over 2000 of his images have been published in textbooks, magazines, advertisements and calendars around the world.
Dr. Tony Cunningham is an ethno-ecologist/applied ecologist working on natural resource use by local people. Over the past 35 years, he has worked in East Africa, southern Africa, West Africa, South Asia (Nepal, India) and to a lesser extent, Oceania (Australia, Fiji); in habitats from desert to tropical rainforest. His main interests are the links between people and conservation, centred on the resource values (economic, medicinal, nutritional, utilitarian) to people, conflicts between conservation areas and local communities. In 2004, he was GP Wilder Chair at the University of Hawaii, teaching an interdisciplinary ethno-ecology course bridging marine & terrestrial environments. Tony is the author or co-author of over 70 publications, including “Applied ethnobotany: people, wild plant use and conservation” (Earthscan, 2001). He helped start the WWF/UNESCO/Kew international conservation programme and currently is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Australia and the University of Stellenbosch.
Dr. Megan Biesele, Director of KPF, helped to found the organization in 1973 along with other￼ members of the Harvard Kalahari Research Group. For periods in the 1970s, 1980s,￼ and 1990s, she worked with the Ju/’hoan San communities in Botswana and Namibia as￼ an advocate and documentarian, and served as director of a non-governmental￼ organization, the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia during the years￼ spanning Namibia’s transition to independence (1987-1992). She is a former member￼ of the Committee for Human Rights of the American Anthropological Association. She￼ currently holds adjunct professorships in anthropology at Michigan State University￼ and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, as well as a Research Associateship at the￼ Texas Archaeological Research Lab of the University of Texas at Austin.
Dr Tony Ribbink is an internationally recognised scientist who applies his expertise in the service of the people of South Africa and Africa as a whole. He bridges the gap between science and community by placing science and technology in the appropriate socio-economic context with the specific aim of improving the quality of life of many rural communities. Hundreds have benefited from Dr Ribbink’s capacity-building initiatives and from being positively exposed to science and many continue to benefit from the Sustainable Seas Trust. For many years Dr Ribbink also leveraged science and technology to enable the peoples of different countries to work in concert to achieve African-defined and African-driven visions. He also anticipated by many years the human rights issues current today by, for instance, initiating in the late 1970’s the development of the Lake Malawi National Park in which villagers were able to maintain their traditional rights. In November 2007 Dr Ribbink became a founding trustee and CEO of Sustainable Seas Trust. Preceding this he was the Director of the World Bank GEF project on Lake Malawi/Nyasa for Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. From 1999 to 2005, he managed two international WWF projects on freshwaters, and concurrently, from 2002 to 2007, developed, raised the funds for and managed the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme (ACEP). Dr Ribbink has authored more than 100 scientific and other publications, and his work has been internationally recognised with, among others, a gold medal from WWF for contributions to conservation and education and a silver medal for limnological research, an award only presented four times since the society’s inception in 1964. In 2008 Dr Ribbink was awarded the Royal Society of Southern Africa’s Centenary medal. During his career, Dr Ribbink has also been part of the production of more than 40 environmental education films, initially as an underwater cameraman and later as an advisor and producer.
Professor Louis G. Herman is a professor of political science at the University of Hawai’i West-Oahu. He was born in an orthodox Jewish community in apartheid South Africa, educated in England, and studied medicine at Cambridge University. After a life-changing wartime experience as an Israeli paratrooper, he turned to political philosophy. After studying political philosophy at the Hebrew University and completing his PhD at the University of Hawaii, he found that the two tracks of his search, the personal and the political, led him back to southern Africa, the birthplace of modern humanity. Connections became revelations, converging increasingly with the wisdom of the oldest culture on earth, the San Bushmen. His book Future Primal represents the culmination of this search. He teaches and writes in Honolulu.
Niobe Thompson: is a Cambridge-trained anthropologist with a reputation for bringing cutting-edge science to the screen in ways that delight, inspire and sometimes shock his audiences. Code Breakers, his 2011 documentary on the earliest peopling of the Americas, won double Gemini Awards for “Best Cinematography” and “Best Science Documentary”, while the same year, Tipping Point: Age of the Oil Sands won two Gemini nominations, for “Best Direction” and “Best Social/Political Documentary”. Just two years earlier, Thompson’s Inuit Odyssey was awarded “Best Science Documentary” at the 2009 World Television Awards in Banff. In 2012, he directed, produced and hosted The Perfect Runner, now airing on CBC in Canada, and on ARTE and DR in Europe. Thompson also brought the BBC’s Frozen Planet into the Russian Arctic to shoot part of the latest David Attenborough nature spectacular, airing around the world in 2011 and 2012. Niobe Thompson is a frequent keynote speaker on subjects ranging from human evolution to energy politics, and has published books on human rights and weapons proliferation.
Professor Mark Gibbons obtained his doctoral degree in Zoology from the University of Cape Town in 1988 on the ecology of rocky shore meiofauna, before working with the Benguela Ecology Programme on trophic relationships within the zooplankton. He was seconded by the FRD to the University of the Western Cape in 1995, and joined the permanent staff at the end of 1996 where he was promoted through the ranks to become a Full Professor in 2006. He was chairperson of the Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology (BCB, 2005-2006), and led a strategic plan to bring the previous departments of Botany and Zoology together and pushed for the development of a new, modern and integrated undergraduate curriculum. Mark’s research focuses on marine diversity, and he has trained a number of UWC students in the taxonomy/systematics of marine invertebrates for which there has been no expertise within Africa. His main research is in pelagic ecology and with international help he has succeeded in developing, refining and using hydroacoustics to assess jellyfish abundance off Namibia, where it is clear these organisms rule the waves following the collapse of pelagic fishery. Mark has contributed to the global debate about increases in jellyfish outbreaks/blooms and has done some international work looking at jellyfish and climate in the North Atlantic. The changes off Namibia have also impacted another species, the bearded goby, and Mark is a key part of an international and interdisciplinary team looking at the reasons why this species has succeeded where others have failed.
Dr. Peter Nilssen has over 25 years experience in archaeological field work and research. He is a professional member of the Association of South African Professional Archaeologists, and has worked in Cultural Resource Management since the late 1980s. He has worked on over 150 CRM projects – as Principal Archaeologist on more than 130 – including heritage resources ranging from historic to pre-historic (Stone Age) sites. Peter is particularly interested in Stone Age or hunter-gatherer archaeology. Research towards his PhD focused on the analysis of faunal remains with respect to human subsistence behaviour. To this end he conducted actualistic research to gain a better understanding of how people processed animals in the past. He discovered the now world renown cave sites at Pinnacle Point with Jonathan Kaplan and co-founded the Mossel Bay Archaeology Project (MAP) with Curtis Marean, which conducts excavations and research in coastal caves and the surrounding environment near Mossel Bay. MAP & SACP4’s research goal is to resolve issues concerning the origins of modern humans. A major addition to the research at Mossel Bay involves the investigation into ancient environments and climates. Research that he has undertaken includes zooarchaeology, experimental archaeology, taphonomy, human ecology, and hunter-gatherers. He is also interested in various forms of rock art and was involved in recording rock art with the Archaeology Department of the University of Cape Town. His most recent thrust is into disseminating humanity’s heritage for the purpose of reconnecting people with nature, themselves and each other.