Lee Rogers Berger

As a paleoanthropologist, Dr. Lee Berger has made groundbreaking discoveries in South Africa, where he has lived since 1989. In 1991, he and his team discovered early hominid remains at a site called Gladysvale, the first such discovery in southern Africa since 1948.

Berger received the first National Geographic Society Prize for Research and Exploration in 1997 and the first Friedel Sellschop Award for Young Researchers two years later. He frequently appears on the National Geographic Channel, and his research has twice been cited by Discover magazine for being among the top 100 science stories of the year. His discovery of Homo naledi landed him on the cover of National Geographic in 2015.

Berger grew up in Georgia, where he became an Eagle Scout. He graduated from Georgia Southern University and attended Harvard University before moving to South Africa to pursue doctoral studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. He has been active with numerous organizations, including the Palaeoanthropological Scientific Trust, the Jane Goodall Trust South Africa, and the Royal Society of South Africa.

In addition to receiving the Eagle Scout Award, Berger has received the BSA’s Honor Medal. While working as a news photographer in Savannah, Georgia, in 1987, he tossed aside his camera and jumped into a river to save a drowning woman.