Council on Africa

The Field Museum’s century–long association with Africa is one devoted to exploring, communicating and preserving Africa’s spectacular natural and cultural legacy and the Council on Africa is an important collaborator in the Museum’s efforts across the continent.

Members of the Council on Africa have a unique opportunity to work closely with scientists at The Field Museum and support their research financially. All contributions to the Council on Africa are pooled in a restricted fund at the Museum and Steering Committee members meet semiannually to vote on how to allocate the resources.

The group considers proposals from anthropologists, botanists, geologists and zoologists at the Museum and funds those which they deem most able to make a contribution to scientific knowledge and a positive impact in Africa.

Since 2006, The Council on Africa has contributed a total of $380,000 to 66 capacity building projects in 8 African countries (Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Mozambique, South Africa, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Madagascar.

The Council on Africa funds a broad range of projects from scientists training to seed funding of research and conservation efforts. See below for examples of each type of project funded by the Council on Africa.

Scientist training

  • Two Malawian museum professionals came to The Field Museum as a result of a Council on Africa funded project lead by Dank Brinkmeier, to be trained in specimen preparation, museum interpretation, and exhibit production techniques. This training was the first step leading to the development of a planned new natural history museum in Malawi.


  • Norbert Cordeiro, a Postdoctoral fellow from the Botany Department at The Field Museum explored if trees change sex in order to counter barriers against reproduction due to deforestation in the East Usambara Mountains in Tanzania.

Expanding Scientific Knowledge

  • Council on Africa funding made it possible for Field Museum scientists John BatesJulian Kerbis, and Tom Gnoske to conduct inventories of small mammals and birds of Gorongosa National Park, an exciting extension of ongoing long-term survey work across montane Africa.

Seed Funding

  •  Bill Stanley and Julian Kerbis' longtime field work surveying small mammals in Tanzania and the Albertine Rift lead to a National Science Foundation grant of $500,000, which would not have been possible without the Council on Africa's contribution to the project that enabled its beginning. This 3-year project will investigate the diversity, relationships, and biogeography in one of the most species-rich and least-studied mammalian clades—the Crocidurinae, a subfamily of Old World shrews.

Council on Africa members receive many rewarding benefits provided with a minimum gift of $2,500. Detailed membership levels and benefits are described below:

 $3,000 – Steering committee

  • Attend semiannual funding meetings with voting privileges
  • Invitations to exclusive Museum exhibition previews
  • Gift publication
  • Personalized behind-the-scenes tour by request
  • All general membership benefits

$2,500 – General membership

  • Invitations to 3 programs annually featuring Field Museum scientists
  • Invitation to Year-End Dinner
  • Recognition in Museum annual reports
  • Periodic email updates on African field work
  • Council on Africa members participate in many exciting events throughout the year. Membership benefits include invitations to exclusive exhibition previews, personalized behind the scenes tours, and receptions featuring Field Museum scientists. See below for examples of past events and also for upcoming events.

Past Council on Africa Events

  • Conserving Lions: Genetic, Landscape, and Economic Perspectives - Dr. Bruce Patterson shared facts he and his colleagues uncovered concerning the forces that are endangering lions and avenues that may help save them. 
  • Social Networks of Mobile Money in Kenya - Dr. Sibel Kusimba, Associate Professor of Anthropology, shared her team's research to understand the social realtionships that are created and revealed in mobile money flows.
  • Africa: A Day In The Life - Council on Africa members, Rene' and Bruce Lauer, discussed a program they offer to U.S. students that provides an overview of the typical experiences of children their own age living in Africa.  
  • Gorillas, Guerillas, and Greenbuls: Studying Avian Diversification and Conservation in the African Lowland Rainforest - Dr. Ben Marks, Collections Manager of Birds, discussed recent studies of geographic variation in widespread birds inhabiting the west African and Congo Basin lowland rainforests that suggest we may be vastly underestimating diversity in the Afrotopics. 

The Field Museum’s century–long association with Africa is one devoted to exploring, communicating and preserving Africa’s spectacular natural and cultural legacy. The Council on Africa is an important collaborator in the Museum’s efforts across the continent. Below is a list of Field Museum staff that work in Africa.


Current Staff

Current Students at U. S. Institutions

  • Edna Davion (University of Chicago)
  • Carrie Seltzer (University of Illinois at Chicago)
  • Luca Borghesio (University of Illinois at Chicago)
  • Raoul Davion (Charles Sturt University)

Other associated researchers

  • Thomas Wesener
  • Steffen Pauls
  • Nobert Cordeiro
  • Carl Dick
  • David Willard
  • Dan Brinkmeier
  • George Mugambi
  • Julian Kerbis
  • Rahul Oka
  • Al Newton
  • Bob Inger
  • Colin Lejeune
  • Stephanie Moormann

Recent Alumni from U. S. Institutions

  • Brandon Kilbourne (University of Chicago)
  • Muhammad Abu Baker (University of Illinois at Chicago)
  • Michael Huhndorf (Illinois State University
  • Lucinda Lawson (University of Chicago)

Collaborating Institutions in Africa

  • Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles (CRSN-LWIRO), Bukavu, D. R. Congo
  • Université Officielle de Bukavu (UOB), Bukavu, D. R. Congo
  • Centre de Recherche en Hydrobiologie (CRH-UVIRA), Uvira, D. R. Congo
  • Museums of Malawi, Blantyre, Malawi
  • National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Kenya Wildlife Service, Nairobi, Kenya 
  • Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute, Naivasha, Kenya
  • Vahatra, Antananarivo, Madagascar 
  • Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya
  • MoiUniversity, Eldoret, Kenya 
  • Pwani University, Mombasa, Kenya
  • University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
  • University of Dar es Salaam , Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  • Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (WCST), Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 
  • KwaZulu-Natal Museum, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
  • University of Swaziland, Kwaluseni, Swaziland
  • Wildlife Conservation Society, Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda 
  • Stellenbosch University, Western Cape Province, South Africa

Join us today to help continue The Field Museum's century long association with Africa, devoted to exploring, communicating, and preserving Africa's spectacular natural and cultural legacy. Council on Africa members support exciting, capacity building projects, make it possible for The Field Museum to train young African scientists, and support research endeavors across the continent.

Travel to Africa with Field Museum Tours

Scientists at The Field Museum have conducted field work throughout Africa for over a century. Field Museum Tours continues this tradition by offering tours to friends and supporters of the Museum, which visit exciting destinations in Africa. Past trips have included Madagascar, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and more!

Past Trips to Africa with Field Museum Tours include...

  • Tanzania Migration Safari
  • The Road to Timbuktu & Coastal West Africa
  • Egypt's Hidden Treasures
  • Ultimate Madagascar
  • The Best of Kenya: A Luxury Safari
  • The Best of Botswana and Zimbabwe

For more information about the Council on Africa email us or call (312) 665-7137.