Carolyn Barnwell

The Inca Empire stretched from Colombia to central Chile and ruled more than 12 million people. They built organized cities and advanced road systems, yet they had no system of hieroglyphic writing, as the Maya did. Instead, they communicated via a system of knotted textile strings known as quipus. Deciphering how to read the quipus...

Pachacamac is one of the longest inhabited ancient settlements in the Americas. An important religious and pilgrimage center, the vast complex is today just 30 miles outside of the Lima, the most populous city in Peru. As a result, Pachacamac faces the threat of invasion and exploitation. Like many archaeological sites in Peru, urban growth...

National Geographic explorer Gabriel Prieto was perhaps destined to become an archaeologist. He was raised in Huanchaco, Peru, a city built on the foundations of ancient structures. It’s been continually occupied for more than 3,500 years and home to the Moche, Chimú, and Inca cultures. Today, the cultural continuity is most apparent when fishermen pull...

Archaeologist and National Geographic explorer Luis Jaime Castillo and archaeologist Carlos Wester have been working on the north coast of Peru for decades. They’ve focused on a large complex of pyramids called Chotuna-Chornancap, which was built by the Sicán—also known as Lambayeque—around A.D. 750. The pyramids were a seat of power for at least three...

A little over a hundred years ago, American explorer Hiram Bingham captured the world’s attention when his account of his expedition to Peru made the cover of National Geographic magazine in 1913. Relying on local knowledge, he visited the crumbling ruins of Machu Picchu tucked in the forests of the Andes Mountains. He used state-of-the-art...

Everyone poops. But not many people really think about what happens to it. We flush the toilet and it is out of sight and out of mind. Sasha Kramer, on the other hand, has poop on her mind all the time. She is a sanitation revolutionary helping to transform human waste into fertile organic compost...

By Sharon Pieczenik At first glance, explorer and National Geographic grantee Chris Bashinelli might seem like your cliché New Yorker: brash, assertive, an avid talker, and someone who might think that New York City is the center of the universe. However, while Chris may carry that NYC veneer, he is also a dynamic young man...

By Sharon Pieczenik As it turns out, the Jurassic Park films are not entirely accurate. Aubrey Jane Roberts, a National Geographic Young Explorers grantee and professional dinosaur hunter (aka paleontologist) loves the films but laments the fact that they have not kept up with modern paleontological findings. And she should know—she is part of an...

Imagine being dropped off by a tiny bush plane into a remote wilderness, knowing you are about to brave the biggest challenge you have ever faced. Todd Wells did just that when he led an exploratory kayaking expedition into the heart of the Wrangell Mountains in Alaska. He and his team members were only able...

There aren’t many people who would eagerly anticipate a phone call about a dead dolphin. Eddie Kisfaludy, marine biologist and National Geographic grantee, had the idea to try to document what happens once a dolphin carcass sinks to the seafloor. The idea came to him one day while he was offshore working with Scripps Institution...

Steve Boyes is a conservation biologist and National Geographic explorer. He is dedicated to the preservation of the Okavango Delta, the last wetland wilderness in Africa. He and his brother, Chris Boyes, led an expedition over 1,500 miles (2,414 kilometers) down the length of the Okavango River in 2015. Bringing together expedition, science, and documentary...

Cross-cultural explorer and National Geographic grantee Chris Bashinelli visited Uganda to discover how fair trade benefits local farmers. He met 76-year-old Kibwana Paulo in the Ruwenzori Mountains. Bashinelli explained, “Kibwana started selling fair-trade vanilla and as a result made enough money to start his own beekeeping business. And now that provides supplemental income, which allows...

Cartographers and National Geographic grantees Marty Schnure and Ross Donihue traveled to the little-known Farallon National Wildlife Refuge to document the scientists who live there and to create an interactive digital map to allow the public to explore the islands from afar. The Farallon National Wildlife Refuge is closed to public access to protect this...

Matthew Luskin is a conservation biologist, wildlife ecologist, and National Geographic grantee. He spent a year in the rain forest of Indonesia tracking tigers through the remaining three largest national parks—and it was seriously dangerous. “When there’s a tiger around you can’t sleep. You can barely eat. You can’t do anything because all you are...

Paola Bouley is on call as a first responder for lions in Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique. She is a National Geographic Big Cats Initiative grantee and the director and co-founder of Projecto Leões da Gorongosa. It’s the first ever lion research project in the history of the park. Bouley and her team work to...