Fourteen world-changers named 2017 National Geographic Emerging Explorers

Every year, National Geographicrecognizes and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring scientists, conservationists, storytellers and innovatorswho are changing the world, known as our Emerging Explorers.

Today, the National Geographic Society is excited to announce its 2017 class of Emerging Explorers. The group hails from all over the globe: Borneo, Italy, Mozambique, Angola, the United States, and more. Not only are these Explorers geographically diverse, but they also represent a variety of fields. This year, our Emerging Explorers’ backgrounds vary from photography, glaciology, conservation, geography, engineering, education, and even dentistry. These bold people with transformative ideas are taking National Geographic’s mission further and improving the world as they go.

Past classes of Emerging Explorers have included amazing individuals like Thandiwe Mweetwa (Thandi), a lion biologist who works with the Zambian Carnivore Programme in Africa. Reflecting on her experience as an Emerging Explorer, Mweetwa said:

To help this group of trailblazers expand the impact they are making in the areas of science, storytelling, education, technology and conservation around the world, National Geographic awards each of them $10,000 for research and exploration.

Without further ado, allow us to introduce the 2017 National Geographic Emerging Explorers:

  • Ryan Carney, United States: Evolutionary biologist and epidemiologist using innovative 3D imaging and geographic technologies to research and teach about dinosaurs and diseases, fromArchaeopteryxto Zika.

  • Adjany Costa, Angola: Conservationist and ichthyologist working to protect the wildlife and wild spaces of the Okavango Wilderness Basin all the way to its headwaters in Angola.

  • Federico Fanti, Italy: Paleontologist and sedimentary geologist investigating patterns in fossil records to study adaptation and extinction events. Fanti is known for discovering the biggest sea-dwelling crocodile ever found and is now leading an international team developing a new methodology for countering the illegal trade of fossils.

  • Keolu Fox, United States: Human geneticist using genomic technologies to understand human variation and disease. Fox also advocates for more inclusive and representative genome sequencing to allow indigenous populations to gather and analyze their own genetic data.

  • Joe Grabowski, Canada: Educator and scuba diver working to bring science, exploration, adventure and conservation into classrooms across North America through virtual speakers and field trips. Grabowski is using technology to open the most remote corners of the planet to classrooms.

  • Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Chad: Environmental activist and geographer using mapping as a tool to manage the environment sustainably, giving a voice to indigenous peoples and local communities.

  • M Jackson, United States: Geographer and glaciologist who is documenting and examining diverse relations and narratives amongst people and glaciers as a way to understand the transformative nature of global environmental change.

  • Danielle N. Lee, United States: Biologist and outreach scientist who studies animal behavior and works to increase minority participation in STEM fields. Lee is currently researching the behavior and biology of wild rodents, such as landmine sniffing African giant pouched rats, to better understand how we can use them to save lives.

  • Jennifer W. Lopez, United States: Technologist and data scientist with a mission to make the world better through technology and to use citizen science to help unravel secrets of the cosmos.

  • Ricardo Moreno, Panama: Wildlife Biologist working with local communities to promote the coexistence between wild cats and human populations. Moreno’s main focus is using camera traps, GPS collars to monitor and protect jaguars and combat wildlife trafficking and conflict.

  • Mateus Mutemba, Mozambique: Park warden and conservationist protecting Gorongosa National Park through a public and private partnership between the government, private sector and the local community. Gorongosa National Park focuses on biodiversity protection using a large-scale, integrated approach to human development in its buffer zone.

  • Hotlin Ompusunggu, Indonesia: Dentist and conservationist who is combining conservation and healthcare through community-based projects, with a mission to break the cycle between poverty and illegal logging.

  • Anand Varma, United States: Science photographer who works to tell the story behind the science of everything from primate behavior and hummingbird biomechanics to amphibian disease and forest ecology.

  • Grace C. Young, United States: Ocean engineer developing technology to explore and manage ocean resources. Technologies Young has helped develop include underwater robots and camera systems that record fish populations, map coral reefs in 3D, and capture undersea events in ultra-slow motion. She is also working on a deep sea submarine for manned exploration.

With the help of National Geographic Society, this group of 14 will explore new frontiers and find innovative ways to remedy some of the greatest challenges facing our planet. The 2017 class of Emerging Explorers will be honored at the National Geographic Explorers Festival in Washington, D.C. in June.

Want to become a National Geographic Explorer? Learn how you can apply for a grant from the National Geographic Society here.


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