Talk About Travel

The cost for the event is $99, which includes transportation and a ticket to the show. Discounted tickets are available at $49 for students, $75 for Lifelong Learning Institute Members and NIU alumni. The bus departs at 2:30 p.m. Thursday from the NIU Holmes Student Center east entrance on Normal Road in DeKalb. Participants will have time for dinner and shopping on their own in Chicago before the show.

Mark Pietrowski, director of NIU Continuing and Professional Education, which sponsors the “Travel with an NIU Expert” series, is looking forward to an exciting evening.

“This is an event open to community members and students, and I am looking forward to all of us learning more about someone breaking with stereotypes and going after something they are passionate about,” he said in a news release. “The National Geographic Live programs have received excellent reviews, and this should be an interesting and entertaining event.”

The talk featuresMireya Mayor, a former NFL cheerleader and daughter of Cuban immigrants who followed her unlikely dreams to become a respected primatologist. This audacious explorer is theco-discoverer of the world’s smallestprimate in Madagascarand host of the National Geographic television series“Wild Nights With Mireya Mayor.” Mayor tells her tales of traveling to some of the wildest and most remote places on earth, armed with little more than a backpack, notebook and hiking boots.

Participants will also hear from NIU expert Laurie Spencer during the bus ride. Spencer earned her BS in biological sciences at DePaul University and entered NIU’s MA program in Anthropology in 2012. She has worked as a primate animal keeper and research intern at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Spencer conducted her MA fieldwork in 2014 in Tsinjoarivo, Madagascar. She earned her MA in physical anthropology in 2017 and began her PhD research in NIU’s Department of Biological Sciences the same year. She is planning to conduct her dissertation research in the Bolivian Amazon investigating the risk of blood-borne pathogen infections between primates and humans.

Spencer says she’s looking forward to connecting with other people within the NIU community through this event.

“I’m interested in learning about Dr. Mayor’s experience as a field primatologist,” she said in the news release. “It is a career path with many unique challenges, especially for women. I find inspiration in learning about other people’s experiences.”

“I plan to discuss my experience of deciding to leave my long-time corporate career to pursue my dream of being a field biologist,” Spencer said. “I also intend to speak about what it’s like to conduct research in the remote rainforest of Madagascar.”

For information or to buy your ticket, visit

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Travel with an NIU Expert to experience National Geographic Live talk
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