Open Calendar


events | University News

Donald Johanson, Internationally Known Discoverer of ‘Lucy,’ will Present Public Lecture at UCM

By Jeff Murphy, February 16, 2022

Donald Johanson, Ph.D.

WARRENSBURG, MO – Known worldwide for his role in the ground-breaking discovery of “Lucy,” which researchers consider a direct ancestor to humankind, paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson, Ph.D., will make a public presentation at the University of Central Missouri on Monday, March 28. His lecture is free and open to the public, and begins at 7 p.m. in Hendricks Hall, located on the second floor of the Administration Building. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.


Johanson, who is a professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University, Tempe, and founding director at the Institute of Human Origins (formerly at the University of California-Berkeley), is making his third visit to UCM, having lectured on campus in September 2006 and February 2012. In addition to learning more about his work and what it means to the scientific community, the audience can expect an evening filled with lots of photographs and other visual imagery gathered throughout his well-traveled life at the top of his field. Throughout the day, Johnason also will visit with student groups and campus leaders.


Johanson was serving as an associate professor of anthropology at Case Western Reserve University when he discovered the fossilized skeletal remains of Lucy on Nov. 24, 1974 while leading an expedition in Hadar, Ethiopia. This female bipedal hominin stood about three and a half feet tall, and was believed to be an early australopithecine born about 3.2 million years ago. She acquired her name based on the 1967 Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” which the discovery team listened to throughout the night after their exciting find. The name, “Lucy,” stuck with the public as the discovery went on to become famous worldwide. It  has since been the topic of many published works and public presentations by Johanson.


Johanson’s work with co-author Maitland A. Edey, “Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind,” received a 1982 U.S. National Book Award in Science. Other co-authored books include “Blueprints: Solving the Mystery of Evolution”; “Lucy’s Child: The Discovery of a Human Ancestor”; “Journey from the Dawn”; “Life With the World’s first Family”; “Ancestors: In Search of Human Origins”; “From Lucy to Language” and “Lucy’s Legacy: The Quest for Human Origins.”


In addition to his writing and research, over the past 30 years Johanson has been involved in numerous documentary projects for Public Television, including appearing in “Nature” and “Nova” series.


Individuals who want to learn more about Johanson’s visit to UCM are encouraged to contact Hannah Marsh, Ph.D., associate professor of biological anthropology in the UCM School of Social Sciences and Languages, at or 660-543-8748.


  • facebook
  • twitter
  • youtube
  • linkedin
  • instagram