Third Class of Fulbright-National Geographic Fellows Named

By Farley Fitzgerald, National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society and the U.S. Department of State today announced the names of the five candidates selected for the third class of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship. The Fellowship provides a unique platform for U.S. Fulbright awardees to build awareness of transnational challenges, comparing and contrasting cross-border issues. Their stories will be shared on National Geographic digital platforms using a variety of digital storytelling tools, including text, photography, video, audio, graphic illustrations and/or social media.

Over a nine-month period, the five storytellers will create stories on globally significant social or environmental topics, including cultures, wildlife and food. They are:

  • Christiana Botic, a Serbian-American photographer and filmmaker who will document the impact of mass migration of refugees on the cultural landscapes of Serbia and Croatia.
  • Lauren Ladov, a garden educator who will share stories about those striving to create sustainable, community-centered food systems in India and produce education materials for a gardening curriculum.
  • Tim McDonnell, a New York City-based digital multimedia journalist who will document how a changing climate is compounding longstanding problems with food insecurity and rural poverty in Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda.
  • Kevin McLean, an ecologist, conservationist and National Geographic Young Explorer who will use motion-sensitive cameras (camera traps) to report on rainforest canopy wildlife in two of the most biodiverse areas of the world: Amazonian Ecuador and Malaysian Borneo.  
  • Ishan Thakore, a multimedia storyteller, journalist and global health researcher who will create a series of short films to portray a nuanced portrait of the human benefits as well as the human costs of large-scale development in South Africa and Nicaragua.

Finalists were selected by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board following recommendations by National Geographic Society editorial experts. Fulbright-National Geographic Storytellers receive funding for travel, living expenses and health/accident coverage as well as a reporting and materials allowance from the U.S. Department of State. National Geographic organizes a pre-departure training, and staff mentor the Storytellers, helping them tell their stories to a wider global audience.

“We are thrilled to partner with the U.S. Department of State for the third class of the Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship,” said Keith Jenkins, general manager of digital for the National Geographic Society. “This platform is exactly in line with our belief in the power of science, exploration and storytelling to change the world. Our team is excited to work closely with the five Storytellers on their projects throughout the coming year.”

For more information and details on applying for the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, visit

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Fulbright Program. Established by Congress in 1946, the educational exchange program is designed to increase mutual understanding between people of the United States and people of other countries. The Fulbright Program annually supports more than 8,000 students, scholars, artists and professionals from the United States and more than 160 countries to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and find solutions to shared international challenges.

For media inquiries about the 2016/2017 Fulbright-National Geographic Fellows, please contact: 

Farley Fitzgerald, National Geographic Society
(202) 775-6119


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