PAST Grantee Elected to the National Academy of Sciences

PAST applauds the recent election of Dr. Fredrick Manthi to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Manthi is a Kenyan palaeontologist and long-time PAST grantee. He is the only African scientist elected to the academy as an international member in 2024. As the Director of Antiquities, Site and Monuments and founding director of the West Turkana Paleo Project based at the National Museums of Kenya, Dr. Manthi’s election to the academy reflects the significant contributions he has made to our understanding of vertebrate palaeontology and human evolution and to the development of palaeontology in Kenya.

PAST has been supporting Dr. Manthi’s academic career since his Ph.D. studies at the University of Cape Town, which he completed in 2006. PAST recognized Dr. Manthi’s great potential to make a significant contribution to palaeontology when he became the first recipient of PAST’s Young Researcher Excellence Award in 2008. PAST has remained a major funder of Dr. Manthi’s research since then, awarding numerous grants for his fossil surveys and excavations west of Lake Turkana covering fossil sites dated from 4.2 million years ago to the emergence of Homo sapiens some 250,000 years ago.

Dr. Manthi attributes much of the success of his research and his election to the National Academy of Sciences to the regular funding support he has received from PAST. “The support has enabled me to carry-out cutting-edge field research in the Turkana Basin, resulting in tens of publications in top journals. Indeed, PAST’s support towards my research as well as to the education of Kenyan youth about prehistory and human evolution was a big contributor to my election to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.”

Reflecting on the significance of his election to the National Academy, Dr. Manthi sees it as “a great source of encouragement to many African researchers, especially budding paleo-scientists.” He considers this recognition of the high quality of his research as “a big honor to not only me but also to other scholars at the National Museums of Kenya, in Kenya and throughout the African continent.”