Professor honored by National Geographic

Karen Samonds with her daughters, Ann and Evelyn

Karen Samonds, an NIU assistant professor of biological sciences, was featured on the National Geographic magazine website in celebration of International Women’s Day. Samonds was recognized for her paleontological and ecological fieldwork in Madagascar—and for choosing to bring her family into the field with her.

Samonds and her husband, Mitchell Irwin, an NIU assistant professor of anthropology, began taking their children into the field with them when their first daughter was just seven months old. “Bringing the kids sort of transformed the landscape,” Samonds says. “As researchers in a Third World country, we were regarded as pretty strange. It is hard to get what we do to translate to the locals. But families are universal, and when we began bringing the girls, it opened up a whole new way of interacting with people.”