When he was in high school, Donald Johanson was told by his guidance counselor to forget about going to college. The only son of a widowed immigrant mother who worked as a cleaning lady, Johanson had done so poorly on his SATs that the counselor did not believe he was capable of performing college-level work.
Johanson ignored the counselor's advice, pursued higher education, and won his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago. Within a year of earning his doctorate, he made news around the world with a discovery that dramatically altered our understanding of human evolution. The fossilized bones of a creature Johanson called Lucy constitute the oldest, most complete specimen of an extinct species which was not human, but from which the human race may be descended.
While Johanson's interpretation of his discoveries has provoked controversy in scientific circles, Johanson has become one of the dominant figures in the world of paleo-anthropology, and his books and television appearances have given a mass audience a tantalizing glimpse of the mysterious origin of our species.