Dr Lee Berger

Prof. Berger is the Reader in Human Evolution and the Public Understanding of Science at the Institute for Human Evolution, School of GeoSciences, University of the Witwatersrand. He holds an adjunct Professorial position in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Arkansas. He is best known for his discovery of Australopithecus sediba. It is under his leadership and support that the Ifa Lethu Fossil Casting programme became a springboard to train and develop world class fossil casters who have gone on to work in museums and also to create their own Fossil Casting small businesses.

He says: “The highly successful collaboration between lfa Lethu and the lnstitute for Human Evolution in developing a fossil casting programme had its origins several years ago through a small grant from the US Embassy. This grant allowed a small-scale training program to take place where young artists and artisans from the Mamelodi area underwent skills training in casting and mould-making. From this first class of students two young men were selected for additional training and to form the foundation of the initial casting programme.

From these humble beginnings the casting programme, in ongoing cooperation with lfa Lethu, has grown and not only created jobs, but also imparted a sense of community pride, and public awareness into Science.

This growth in awareness and pride has not only occurred in the community around Mamelodi, but also nationally and internationally as the work of this programme has received media and scientific attention and word has spread of its success.”