Marina Elliott graduated in 2015 with a PhD in biological anthropology.


SFU alumna Marina Elliott named 2016 National Geographic Emerging Explorer

June 02, 2016

The National Geographic Society has named SFU alumna Marina Elliott as one of its 2016 Emerging Explorers, a group of 13 inspiring individuals from around the globe whose unconventional thinking and innovations are changing the world for the better. The program recognizes and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring scientists, conservationists, storytellers and innovators who are making a difference early in their careers. Each Emerging Explorer receives a $10,000-award to aid further research and exploration.

Elliott, who graduated in 2015 with a PhD in biological anthropology, gained worldwide renown in 2013 for her archaeological explorations for the Rising Star expedition northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa. She squeezed through an 18-cm-wide cave entrance to work deep underground excavating the largest collection of a single species of hominin fossils ever discovered in Africa. It turned out to be a new species of human called Homo naledi.

Now a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Elliott continues to work on excavations at and around the Rising Star cave.

In an interview with National Geographic, Elliott says, “the next steps are about expanding this idea of exploration and taking it to new areas, whether that’s in South Africa or beyond. I’m certainly amenable to both. It’s just exciting to realize that the great age of exploration isn’t over with, that there are places to explore and there are things to find. That’s pretty cool.”

For related SFU News articles:

Alumna Marina Elliott’s dangerous fossil excavation yields confirmation of new hominid species

Hominid-fossil caver revisits South Africa

Student archaeologist/caver helps unearth major hominid find