Past Global Perspectives Guest Speaker
Spencer Wells is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society and Frank H. T. Rhodes Class of ‘56 Professor at Cornell University.
Since 2005, Wells has headed The Genographic Project, undertaken by the National Geographic Society, IBM, and the Waitt Family Foundation, which aims to creating a picture of how our ancestors populated the planet by analyzing DNA samples from around the world. The project is collecting and analyzing hundreds of thousands of DNA samples from people around the world in order to decipher how our ancestors populated the planet. He presents the knowledge gained from the project around the world, including at the 2007 TED conference, where he spoke specifically about human diversity. He is quoted as saying: "As often happens in science, technology has opened up a field to new ways of answering old questions—often providing startling answers."
As director of National Geographic Genographic Project he said this about the possibility of two Human species living today together: "We don't know how long it takes for hominids to fission off into separate species, but clearly they were separated for a very long time."
Wells received his Ph.D. in population genetics from Harvard University and conducted postdoctoral work at Stanford and Oxford. He has written three books, The Journey of Man,Deep Ancestry and Pandora’s Seed, and has appeared in numerous documentary films on PBS and the National Geographic Channel. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, a filmmaker.
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