Abstract: Three years ago, cavers discovered what would turn out to be the newly described species Homo naledi. The Rising Star Expedition team included senior scientists, early career researchers and students along with a dedicated group of volunteers. In a field where discoveries are closely guarded, the open access ethos of Rising Star represents a radical shift toward a more inclusive space. Becca, one of the six primary excavators on the original expedition, will discuss the fossils, the excitement Homo naledi has generated, the ways Homo naledi is changing how we think about human evolution and the value of exploration.
Bio: Becca Peixotto is a PhD candidate and adjunct instructor in the Department of Anthropology at American University. Her dissertation focuses on historical archaeology and resistance landscapes of the Great Dismal Swamp. Her areas of specialization and interest are historic landscapes, material culture, ideas of wilderness, and public engagement with the past. She embraces scientific methods such as pXRF, remote sensing and GIS in order to address theoretical, social and historical questions. Becca is involved in several projects outside of the Dismal Swamp including the National Geographic/Wits University Rising Star Expedition which excavated the fossils of Homo naledi and the Maryland Historic Trust/Archaeology Society of Maryland Biggs Ford (18FR14) project investigating Middle and Late Woodland villages. Becca also actively supports open access and efforts to encourage women and girls in science.