Zeresenay Alemseged | PAS Academician

Commemoration of Professor Yves Coppens

I was saddened to learn about the passing of French Paleoanthropologist Yves Coppens yesterday. He was among the leading paleontologists not only in France, but also globally.

His leadership in making discoveries in many parts of Africa, his efforts in mentoring, co-mentoring and supporting numerous students and young scholars, many of whom currently hold prominent positions and continue to train others, his contribution to raising and addressing broader issues in early hominin studies, his endeavor to popularize our field, which is often misunderstood in the public sphere and his commitment to educate those at the helm of power so the field of human evolution gets deserved attention and needed funding, are among his key contributions to paleoanthropology and science broadly.

Professor Coppens was also my PhD adviser and co-mentored my research at the University of Paris along with Dr. Denis Geraads of the CNRS. I am grateful to both and will take this sad occasion to express my gratitude to Prof. Coppens for his support. I saw Prof. Coppens last at a scientific gathering in 2019, and his passion and excitement about discoveries and his humorous, civilized and engaging attitude toward scientific discourse was intact. Out of that gathering came a book, which he co-edited at the age of 85! I look forward to gathering with those who knew him and his work to celebrate his life and pay tribute to his contributions.