Sarah Parcak: Space Archaeologist and Newest TED Prize Winner

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We’re so excited for our client Sarah Parcak, a “space archaeologist” who was awarded a $1 million TED prize for 2016.

Our clients are always doing cool things, but every once in awhile we hear about a client who’s doing REALLY cool things — I mean out-of-this-world cool. Sarah Parcak, a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and archaeologist — or “space archaeologist,” as we like to call her — just got some pretty big news. In November, she was awarded the prestigious 2016 TED prize. The $1 million prize goes to just one exceptional person who uses the funding to launch a high-impact project. To give you an idea of what kind of company she’s in, some past winners include Bono, Bill Clinton, and Jamie Oliver.

Sarah uses 21st century satellite imagery beamed down from just outside Earth’s orbit to see archaeological sites that have been lost to time. Her work involves infrared imagery to see more than is possible with the human eye, and she also uses advanced computer algorithms that help separate the ruins of ancient temples or tombs from mere piles of rocks. What’s all this good for, you say? Well, some of Sarah’s past satellite mapping of Egypt unearthed 17 potentially unknown pyramids; she’s identified 3,100 forgotten settlements and 1,000 lost tombs; plus she’s made major discoveries throughout the Roman Empire. Pretty crazy, huh?

According to a TED press release, Parcak insists that being named the 2016 TED Prize recipient is “not about me; it’s about our field — and the thousands of men and women around the world, particularly in the Middle East, who are defending and protecting sites.” She says, “I feel overwhelmed, honored, and excited — and definitely the weight of responsibility for my field. TED is an incredible organization and this is a phenomenal opportunity to raise awareness about what is happening to our ancient shared heritage,” says Parcak.

Sarah’s becoming quite the celebrity, appearing on the Late Show With Stephen Colbert earlier this month where she teased her TED Prize wish:

On February 16, during the TED2016 conference, she will share this $1 million wish in a TED Talk and reveal her plan to make it a reality. Her talk will be live-streamed for free to the world and posted on TED.com shortly after. We wish Sarah the best of luck and couldn’t be happier for her success. For more information on Sarah and her work, check out her Infomedia-powered site, spectralglobe.com.

leslie johnson infomedia birmingham

Leslie keeps our production department running smoothly with the help of lots of cute office supplies, personalized calendars and a morning cup of coffee (with a healthy dose of caramel if-you-please). With over a decade of experience managing production at Southern Progress and Willow House, she’s a natural fit as project manager at Infomedia, and she’s the glue that keeps our team together even during tough projects and tight timelines. Special talents include the ability to sing basically any ‘80s song on-command and find sale items for 20% cheaper with just a little online research. After hours, you’ll find her hanging out with her husband, Chance, son, Wells, and dog, Beau, playing Bunko with her friends, or watching historical dramas on Netflix.


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