National Geographic Labs: Technology and Innovation for a Planet in Balance

For 130 years, the National Geographic Society has been exploring the planet, making new discoveries and inspiring people around the world to create positive change. To accelerate transformative change and exponential solutions to the world’s biggest challenges by harnessing data, technology and innovation, the Society has launched a new initiative: National Geographic Labs.

The three Labs — Exploration Technology, Geographic Visualization and Citizen Explorer — will define the world’s greatest challenges, accelerate impact in exploration and conservation, and engage new audiences in innovative ways with the natural and cultural world. Each lab cuts across all of the National Geographic Society’s core competencies, including science, exploration, grants, education and storytelling.

The Exploration Technology Lab is a world- class technology development and innovation group that builds and deploys breakthrough systems and hardware to accelerate exploration. The Exploration Technology Lab enables explorers to document the most remote and extreme environments; supports the monitoring of the status of species and ecosystems; and develops surveillance and alarm systems for the world’s protected areas.

The Geographic Visualization Lab supports advanced data analytics and data visualizations that turn complex Earth systems data into actionable insights about our living and changing planet. The Geographic Visualization Lab engages audiences in unprecedented ways through immersive digital experiences and fuels innovative conservation solutions by indexing and revealing the status, evolving patterns and trends of the planet’s vital signs.

The Citizen Explorer Lab engages, inspires and empowers a global community of explorers, scientists and change makers through participatory science and open innovation. The Citizen Explorer Lab supports National Geographic’s impact programs by acquiring data that will help us understand the patterns, status and trends of species, ecosystems, people and cultures.

Meet the team: Fabien Laurier, Vice President of National Geographic Labs

Fabien Laurier is the vice president of National Geographic Labs, where he leads strategic development. His focus is on positioning the Society as a leader in mobilizing the technological tools and partners that have the potential to scale up impacts for nature as well as drive the Society toward its bold ambition of creating a planet in balance. An example of this is National Geographic’s recent partnership with The California Academy of Sciences to enhance the global wildlife observation network iNaturalist.

Fabien has more than 15 years of experience leading high-impact scientific programs and initiatives at the nexus of global change, technology and innovation. His previous work has focused on harnessing the power of disruptive technologies (e.g., remote sensing, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, big data visualization) to drive the development of solutions to meet the challenges that define our era, from climate change, ocean health and conservation to the Arctic and environmental security.

Prior to joining the National Geographic Society, Fabien served as the associate director for the National Invasive Species Council in the Office of the Secretary of the Interior. He was responsible for developing and implementing methods to strengthen knowledge capacity and institutional leadership on the invasive species issue throughout the federal government. Before that, he worked as a senior adviser in the White House, where he designed and executed transformative programs and policies that leveraged science, technology, innovation and partnerships to address the most pressing global environmental issues.

As vice president of National Geographic Labs, Fabien leads a multidisciplinary team of experts in engineering, advanced technologies and open innovation. Please continue to check back on this blog for profiles of other members of the National Geographic Labs team.


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