Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Where are They Now? 

Posted by James at 1:42 PM ET

You might have seen former Miami Dolphins Cheerleader Mireya Moyer working as a correspondent on National Geographic's Ultimate Explorer. She has taken viewers to the thick jungle of Madagascar, looking for a species of tiny mouse lemur she helped discover; to the Gulf of California, searching for powerful six-foot-long Humboldt squid, with teeth to make short work of prey; and diving with sharks.

From the MSNBC.com website:

Primatologist Mireya Mayor brings a passion for primates and a newfound knack for adventure to the Ultimate Explorer team. A Fulbright scholar and former Miami Dolphins cheerleader, Mayor is currently obtaining her Ph.D. in anthropology from Stony Brook University in New York, is a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow and was awarded W.G. Burnhardt Turner Minority Graduate Fellowship.

Growing up in Miami, Florida, Mayor has always loved animals, especially primates. While an undergraduate student, she took an anthropology class that rekindled her fascination for primates, and quickly discovered that several critically endangered species had never been studied. Inspired by her mentors at the university, Mayor received her first grant to study the rare brown-bearded saki and white-faced saki in the unexplored areas of Guyana in South America. Never having been camping or traveled outside the United States, she soon found herself on her first expedition with just a couple of notebooks, a pair of hiking boots, a backpack and a hammock.

Since then she has received numerous grants and awards from various conservation foundations to continue studying rare primates in the wild throughout the world. Mayor is one of a handful of scientists to perform critical work on the highly endangered silky sifaka and Perrier sifaka, whose habits remain a mystery to biologists. Her efforts advance the biological study of lemurs while contributing to the conservation of these creatures, which are threatened by deforestation and hunting.

Mayor debuted on EXPLORER in "Lemur Rescue," a program that featured her genetic research on the highly endangered lemurs of Madagascar. Marie Claire profiled Mayor and her work in Madagascar in their October 2002 issue. In upcoming films for Ultimate Explorer, Mayor will be tracking the elusive western lowland gorilla in the Central African Republic and searching for a previously undiscovered species of primate in the jungles of Madagascar.

Mayor has been published in American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Molecular Ecology and Evolution, Neotropical Primates and Lemur News, and is a member of the American Society of Primatologists, International Society of Primatologists, Animal Behaviour Society and American Society of Physical Anthropologists.

Mireya and a lemur

Read more on the amazing Mireya here and here.