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Mireya MayorMireya Mayor
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Primatologist and National Geographic correspondent Mireya Mayor found her destiny in the palm of her hand. Speaking before a crowd of 4,000 at the opening ceremonies, Mayor showed Intel ISEF attendees what it means to live with no boundaries, no limits—the theme of the evening's event. Embracing every opportunity as a learning adventure she's traversed the jungles of Madagascar, swam among great white sharks, and camped on the narrow ledge of a sheer rock wall 14,000 feet above the ground.

"I didn't take the typical scientist route...As a child any interest in science was quickly dispelled by my teachers." While in college she became an NFL cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins. Then in 1996 she took her first anthropology class and was hooked. "I started asking questions. I found the more I asked, the fewer answers there were. There was still a lot of mystery out in the world."

About a year later, having never been on so much as a family camping trip, she set off on her first expedition to a remote part of Madagascar, the only place on earth where lemurs are found. More than 60 species of lemurs are found on the island, but at least 15 more have become extinct. On one of her frequent field expeditions there, in 2000, Mayor discovered a new lemur species—microcebus, or mouse lemur. Nestled between her thumb and forefinger, this rare, small creature inspired her to tackle another great challenge. Presenting her field work to the Prime Minister of Madagascar, Mayor was able to convince him to declare the region a national park to protect and conserve the remaining ten percent of the island's original vast forests. "That's what the inability to see boundaries can accomplish."

At the close of her speech, Mayor reminded everyone to "dream big. Don't let anyone discourage you. And save the lemurs."

 

Primatologist Mireya Mayor urged finalists to dream big.


 

In 2000, Mayor discovered the world's smallest primate.

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