By Caroline Gerdes
While famous figures continue to make discoveries and lead thrilling expeditions, a new group of National Geographic Young Explorers are laying the foundations for the future.
“An initial grant from National Geographic helped launch the careers of many of the Society’s, and our planet’s, most renowned explorers,” said Rebecca Martin, Director of National Geographic’s Expeditions Council and Young Explorer Grants. “Young Explorer Grants provide seed funding to individuals ages 18 to 25 to help launch their career in the fields of research, conservation, and exploration.”
If you’re in D.C., join us at NG headquarters this Friday for a Young Explorers Salon, and meet three recent grantees: Shannon Switzer, Neil Losin, and Emily Ainsworth. Learn how their passion for adventure and the Earth led them from “fishing” for lizards in urban Miami, to floating down California rivers, to running away with more than one Mexican circus.
Surfer, photographer, environmentalist, and California girl Shannon Switzer will discuss her trek through the San Diego Watershed to see firsthand what pollutants really flow into the Pacific Ocean.
“I’d heard an increasing number of my friends and acquaintances talk about getting sick after surfing and wanted to better understand the connection. I decided to do a photographic project documenting how our behavior on land impacts our water quality,” Switzer said about her inspiration for her project.
The Lizard Hunter
UCLA Evolutionary Biologist (and frequent Nat Geo NewsWatch blogger) Neil Losin will explain his research into how competition between various lizard species—most recently the cold-blooded reptiles of sunny Miami—influences evolution.
“After I finish my Ph.D. next year, I’m hoping to take everything I’ve learned so far — as a biologist, photographer, and now filmmaker — and start creating science media that really entertain people while engaging them,” Losin said. “I think that all the data I’ve gathered, which I’m analyzing now, will teach us a lot about the interactions between closely related species, and the role that aggression plays.” (Read Neil’s previous blogs.)
The Circus Performer
London photographer Emily Ainsworth will share her adventures with the Mexican Circus. As a literature and anthropology alumna of Oxford and Cambridge, her studies of human nature and storytelling led her to explore the antiquated traditions of these unconventional communities.
“My intention, in taking photographs and recording the stories of the performers, was to make up for the lack of interest in, and documentation of, the rich [and] vital culture of a vulnerable and threatened community. I wanted to provide an insight into this world; to nuance the ways in which circus is portrayed and understood,” Ainsworth said.
Emily Ainsworth (in cap) poses with a performer in a Mexican circus. Photo Courtesy Emily Ainsworth
Join us in an intimate club setting in the National Geographic dining hall on October 14th for an evening with these inspiring twenty-somethings. Food, drinks, and stories worth retelling will be served.
Can’t make it in person? Contact us in advance at National Geographic’s Facebook page, or tweet @NatGeoLive to learn more.