National Geographic Names 2009 Class of Emerging Explorers


An epidemiologist, an aquatic ecologist, a geo-archaeologist, an ethnobotanist, and an urban planner, are among ten visionary, young trailblazers from around the world that have been named to the 2009 class of National Geographic Emerging Explorers, the National Geographic Society announced today.

“National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers Program recognizes and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring adventurers, scientists, photographers and storytellers making a significant contribution to world knowledge through exploration while still early in their careers,” the Society said in a news release.

Emerging Explorers may be selected from virtually any field, from the Society’s traditional arenas of anthropology, archaeology, photography, space exploration, earth sciences, mountaineering and cartography to the worlds of art, music and filmmaking.

“National Geographic’s mission is to inspire people to care about the planet, and our Emerging Explorers are outstanding young leaders whose endeavors further this mission,” said Terry Garcia, National Geographic’s executive vice president for Mission Programs. “We are pleased to support them as they set out on promising careers. They represent tomorrow’s Edmund Hillarys, Jacques Cousteaus and Dian Fosseys,”

Each Emerging Explorer receives a U.S. $10,000 award to assist with research and to aid further exploration. PNY Technologies is a presenting sponsor of the Emerging Explorers Program and a National Geographic Mission Partner for Exploration & Adventure. The program is made possible in part by the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation, which has supported the program since its inception in 2004.

The 2009 Emerging Explorers are urban planner Thomas Taha Rassam Culhane, currently a UCLA Ph.D. student living between Essen, Germany, and Cairo, Egypt; ethnobotanist Grace Gobbo of Tanzania; geo-archaeologist Beverly Goodman, currently of Hebrew University of Jerusalem; zoologist Kristofer Helgen of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History; conservationist Shafqat Hussain of Pakistan; wildlife biologist and conservationist Malik Marjan of Sudan, currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; behavioral ecologist Katsufumi Sato of the University of Tokyo, Japan; aquatic ecologist and biogeochemist Katey Walter of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks; cultural anthropologist and media ecologist Michael Wesch of Kansas State University; and epidemiologist Nathan Wolfe of Stanford University.

Comprehensive profiles of the explorers and their activities can be found on the Emerging Explorers Web site. The new Emerging Explorers also are introduced in the February 2009 issue of National Geographic magazine.

National Geographic News stories about Emerging Explorers:

“Emerging Explorer” Hooked on Mysterious Leviathan

“Emerging Explorer” Uses DNA to Unlock Our History

8-Foot Giant Catfish Caught in Cambodia

NASA Tool Helps Track Whale Sharks, Polar Bears

Low Sperm Counts Blamed on Pesticides in U.S. Water

Mongolia Gold Rush Destroying Rivers, Nomadic Lives


Changing Planet

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More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn