Hi everyone! My name is Kimberleigh Tommy and I have just began my PhD in Biological Anthropology and Palaeoanthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. I have recently spent a year as the Science Communication Officer for the Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences as I decided on a project for my PhD.
I grew up in the bustling metropolis of Johannesburg, South Africa, only 15 minutes away from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Cradle of Humankind. This site is home to a number of hominin species and is important for our understanding of the evolution of our species. I didn’t actually know this while I was growing up and only discovered the fossil richness of my homeland later on in life and that’s why I have made it my mission to bridge the gap between communities and science! I hope that through science communication, we ensure that all South African children experience the wonders of our country including our fauna, flora, geology and fossil record.
I went to the University of the Witwatersrand and completed my undergraduate degree in Zoology, Ecology and Conservation in 2014. It was during an undergraduate project that I fell in love with primate and more specifically primate movement.
I had spent time observing a Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroy) at the Hartebeespoort Monkey Sanctuary and was fascinated at how effortlessly she navigated through the trees. Later, I combined my love of the old with my love of movement and pursued my Honours and Masters degrees in the evolution and development of bipedalism in our species. In order to do this, I examine the internal or trabecular structure of bones in the pelvis, legs and feet of living primates (including us) and extinct fossils from The Cradle of Humankind. I study the internal bone structure because it gives us information on how a bone was loaded during life. Our bone acts like a diary and keeps a record of our activities so scientists can better understand how our movement (or lack thereof) affects our bones.
I am passionate about science communication, especially in science accessibility and representation. I work with amazing researchers and journalists in order to bring science to communities in languages other than English and to make sure that more people are aware of the importance of South Africa in the global context of human evolution.
I am so excited to be here with you this week and will be discussing all things primate, fossil, locomotion and scicomm!