UAB professor named a 2012 TED fellow

List places UAB’s Sarah Parcak — who uses satellite imagery to find lost archaeological sites — among the world’s top 25 innovators.

Sarah Parcak, Ph.D., associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has been named a 2012 TED fellow. She is among a group of 25 innovators chosen from around the world to join the elite TED Fellow community and, at its 2012 conference, give the “talk of their lives” in only a few minutes.


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Parcak uses satellite imagery to uncover archaeological sites. She recently made international headlines when she discovered lost pyramids, tombs and an entire city that had been hidden for thousands of years underneath the deserts and fields of Egypt.

“It is an amazing honor to be chosen as a 2012 TED Fellow,” says Parcak, whose discoveries were the focus of documentaries on the BBC and Discovery Channel this year. “I am so excited about the global visionaries I will have the opportunity to learn from in the next year.”

Founded in 2009, the TED Fellows program handpicks world-changing innovators from around the globe and brings them to the TED stage — literally and figuratively — to raise international awareness of their remarkable work. The annual TED conferences, in Long Beach/Palm Springs and Edinburgh, bring together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers to give a TEDTalk.

“We are tremendously proud to announce this year’s class of TED Fellows, which includes 25 amazing cross-disciplinary innovators from around the world,” said Tom Rielly, the director of the TED Fellows program. “The generous and collaborative spirit of the TED Fellows and the global nature of much of their work allow them to find surprising and ingenious solutions to many of the world’s biggest problems. From struggling to fight disease, to engineering a sustainable future or saving our environment, to expanding human potential, this group of Fellows promises to make an impact for generations to come.”

This year’s fellows hail from 11 countries including Ireland, Lebanon, Korea, Kenya and Uganda. Among them is Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona state senator, human rights activist and LGBT political leader; Jean-Baptiste Michel, a cultural scientist, French Mauritian mathematician, biologist and co-founder of Culturomics, which uses millions of books and terabytes of historical data to quantify the evolution of human culture; and Greg Gage, a DIY neuroscientist and co-founder of Backyard Brains, an organization teaching secondary school kids neuroscience through experiments with robotic control of ordinary cockroaches. The full list of the 2012 TED Fellows is online at

All TED Fellows will participate as full members in the 2012 TED Conference in Long Beach, where they deliver their own TEDTalks, plus a three-day pre-conference event where they collaborate with their peers and learn new skills. The fellows will participate in the TED community throughout the year, telling their ongoing stories on the TED Fellows blog, contributing to TEDx events, receiving one-on-one professional coaching, being featured in the online fellows directory and participating in a private social network.