Nizar Ibrahim named 2015 TED Fellow

Kevin Jiang
Science Writer and Media Relations SpecialistUniversity of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences

Paleontologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Nizar Ibrahim has been named a 2015 TED Fellow—the first paleontologist in the history of the program.

Ibrahim, a postdoctoral scholar in organismal biology & anatomy, searches through ancient riverbeds in the deserts of Northern Africa for insights about life in the time of the dinosaurs. He has contributed to numerous major discoveries, including Spinosaurus, a semi-aquatic predatory dinosaur that was larger than the T. rex, and a 95 million-year-old flying reptile with an 18-foot wingspan.

As one of 21 newly appointed 2015 TED Fellows, Ibrahim joins a network of more than 300 international thought leaders who have demonstrated remarkable achievement and impact in their fields. Fellows are drawn from all disciplines, from music to astrophysics to cancer research.

“It’s a wonderful award,” Ibrahim said. “It’s a real privilege and I am very excited to be part of this group of mavericks, frontier pushers and innovators.”

TED fellows will participate in either the 2015 TED or TEDGlobal conferences, where they will present their own TED talk. Short, powerful and thought-provoking, TED talks have been viewed online more than one billion times worldwide. Previous TED speakers have included luminaries such as Steve Jobs, Malcolm Gladwell and Stephen Hawking.

This won’t be Ibrahim’s first experience with TED. This past November, he gave a talk for TED Youth at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City.

“I really believe in putting your research out there and sharing it with as many people as possible, especially young people and budding scientists,” he said. “I don’t think scientists should work in a bubble. I hope that the fellowship will allow me to share my love for science, adventure and exploration with as many people as possible.”

The fellowship also offers networking opportunities with other TED fellows, unique skills-building workshops, mentorship from world-renowned experts and the myriad resources of the TED community. Many past TED fellows have been awarded prestigious prizes.

“This large-scale exposure is great news for paleontology, as well as Africa, where I carry out most of my fieldwork,” Ibrahim said. “I also hope that my work with TED is going to inspire future explorers and scientists.”

Ibrahim is still planning the subject of his TED talk, but he already has some ideas.

“It’s going to include a journey into the deep past of our planet—that much I can tell you,” he said.