March 30, 2005

Charles Harmon Director of University Relations, Joseph C. Agbasi Student Assistant, Dr. David O'Drobinak, Associate Professor (229) 249-2643

Connell Lecture features one of world's leadingpaleoanthropologists

Dr. Donald C. Johanson, one of the world's leading paleoanthropologists, will present "Origins of Humankind: The View from Africa" at 8:30 P.M. on Thursday, April 14, in Valdosta State University's Whitehead Auditorium. The lecture, which is free to the public, will be given at the 23rd Annual Connell Lecture.

Johanson is among the most renowned and accomplished paleoanthropologists of our time. He is best known for his discovery of the most widely known and thoroughly studied fossil find of the 20th century, the 1974 discovery of Lucy, a 3.2 million year-old hominid fossil found in Ethiopia.

The discovery of Lucy prompted an ongoing debate and major revisions in the knowledge and understanding of the human evolutionary past.

"Understanding who we are is not just a matter of idle curiosity," Johanson said. "It is a matter of survival for our own species as well as for the millions of other species with whom we share Earth. For without a clearer understanding of who we are, we will fall far short of the kind of future we would want for ourselves and for our children."

In the 30 years since he earned his doctorate from the University of Chicago, Johanson has led field explorations in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and the Middle East. He also hosted and narrated the Emmy-nominated PBS/NOVA series, In Search of Human Origins. Johanson developed the award-winning science website,, and has authored six books, including "Lucy: The Beginnings of Mankind," winner of the 1981 American Book Award in Science.

Johanson founded and directs the Institute of Human Origins, a human evolution think tank. He is an honorary member of the Explorers Club, a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Virginia M. Ullman Chair in Human Origins at Arizona State University.

The lecture is sponsored by the Biology Department in conjunction with the departments of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences; History; Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice; the College of Arts & Sciences; the Office of Grants and Contracts; and the Office of Planned Giving.

The Connell Lecture Program, named after Dr. Clyde Eugene Connell, was the first endowed visiting lecturer program established at Valdosta State University. Initially funded by colleagues, students and friends, the program was started to honor the retirement of Connell from Valdosta State College in 1980.

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