2019 Speakers and Entertainment
A National Geographic Fellow, geographer and technologist Bronwyn Agrios uses technology to transform the way people observe the planet. She develops products that make location data more powerful and accessible to everyone. Previously, Agrios ran Product at Astro Digital. In that role, she developed a new approach for processing trillions of Earth observations to better understand changes to our planet. She built tools to make open satellite datasets more accessible, useful, and relevant—and led the product and business through the launch of its first satellites.Back
Gael Almeida is the senior director for Latin America at the National Geographic Society. She has more than 20 years of experience working in conservation, specifically in developing financing strategies, coordinating initiatives, facilitating collective impact, and strategic planning for conservation. Almeida has worked with governments, academic institutions, and civil society organizations such as the Mexican Fund for Nature Conservation, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Universidad Iberoamericana, a master’s in management of protected areas from UNESCO, and a master’s in conservation biology from University College London.Back
Archana Anand is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Hong Kong’s Swire Institute of Marine Science. Her Ph.D. research is on water quality and its impact on biodiversity and ecosystem function in human-impacted coastal marine environments. Anand currently studies coral communities in Hong Kong under the overarching theme “Reefs of the past, present, and future.” One of the methods she uses involves deploying miniature apartment-like blocks called Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) on the seabed for one to two years. Upon retrieval, she collects and identifies everything that colonises the ARMS to estimate biodiversity and identify vulnerability to human perturbations. Complementary to her efforts to quantify biodiversity, Anand also uses novel yet simple assays such as squid pops, algae pops, and tea bags to quantify services rendered by coastal marine ecosystems. Anand is a 2018 National Geographic Young Explorer grant recipient.Back
Anousheh Ansari is CEO and board member of the XPRIZE Foundation, which runs incentive competitions to solve global challenges. Now its executive chairwoman, she previously co-founded and was CEO of Prodea Systems. After an 11-day space expedition, she became, among other firsts, the first Muslim woman and fourth private explorer in space. Ansari serves on the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council and has received its Young Global Leader award, among many other honors. A UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, she serves on several boards of directors, co-founded The Billion Dollar Fund for Women, and is a published author. She has a master’s in electrical engineering from George Washington University.Back
Jonathan Baillie has been executive vice president and chief scientist at the National Geographic Society since 2016. Previously, he spent 20 years at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), most recently serving as conservation programmes director. Baillie has coauthored several key publications on the status and trends of the world’s species and ecosystems, such as the Living Planet Index and the first IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. He also led the ZSL team that founded the EDGE of Existence program, supporting scientists working to protect animals facing extinction, and helped initiate United for Wildlife, a collaboration of organizations working to address illegal wildlife trade. He has written several children’s books and co-founded a media animation company focused on communicating biodiversity. Baillie has a master’s degree in conservation biology from Yale University and a Ph.D. in biology from Imperial College London. He is a visiting professor of zoology at the University of Oxford.Back
Rachael Bale is a senior editor on National Geographic’s animal desk. In that role, she also manages and contributes to Wildlife Watch, a National Geographic Society investigative reporting project that shines a light on wildlife crime and exploitation. Previously, she covered the environment for the Center for Investigative Reporting. She has also worked for KQED, San Francisco’s public radio station, and for the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative newsroom. A California native, Bale has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Reed College and a master’s degree in journalism from American University. She lives in Arlington, Virginia.
Katy Croff Bell
Katy Croff Bell is the director of the Open Ocean initiative at the MIT Media Lab and a National Geographic Society Technology Fellow. A deep-sea explorer, she has a background in ocean engineering, maritime archaeology, and geological oceanography, and has led dozens of expeditions around the world. Bell is passionate about developing new ways to better understand the ocean and make it more accessible to everyone around the world. She holds an S.B. in ocean engineering from MIT, an M.Sc. in maritime archaeology from the University of Southampton, and a Ph.D. in geological oceanography from the University of Rhode Island.
Lee Berger is an award-winning paleoanthropologist, a National Geographic Explorer-at-Large, and the 2016 National Geographic Explorer of the Year. Among his notable discoveries include the fossil remains of two new species of ancient human relatives. Named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2016, Berger received the National Geographic Society’s first Prize for Research and Exploration. He is a Royal Society of South Africa Fellow, an Academy of Science of South Africa member, and an Explorers Club Fellow. The Research Professor in Human Evolution and the Public Understanding of Science at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, he serves on the Global Young Academy advisory board.Back
Vanessa Berlowitz, executive producer of National Geographic’s upcoming series Queens, is CEO of Wildstar Films, which she co-founded in 2018. She is currently executive producing two new series for National Geographic and is working on two wildlife films for Disney nature. For almost three decades, she has been making wildlife films and documentaries. Berlowitz first worked at the BBC Natural History Unit, making films for internationally acclaimed, multi-award-winning landmark series, including Planet Earth, as well as for major long-running series. At the BBC, she became an Emmy-nominated writer and a BAFTA- and Grierson-nominated director, and her films received numerous awards, including an Emmy and BAFTA. Berlowitz also won a Primetime Emmy as the series producer of Frozen Planet before becoming a BBC lead executive producer, developing and producing series including Planet Earth 2. From there, Berlowitz worked as a consulting executive producer for Nutopia, helping to develop the vision for National Geographic’s One Strange Rock.Back
Colby Bishop is the director of wildlife programs at the National Geographic Society. In that role, she is responsible for a portfolio of impact-based programs—including Sumatran Rhino Rescue, the Big Cats Initiative, the National Geographic Photo Ark, and Wildlife Watch—with the overall vision to explore, protect, and promote species diversity. Bishop has worked for the National Geographic Society for over 10 years. She received an M.B.A. from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and a B.A. from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York.Back
Elizabeth Bennett is vice president of species conservation at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). She received her Ph.D. from Cambridge University, UK,f or research on the ecology of primates in Peninsular Malaysia, and worked in Sarawak, Malaysia, for 18 years. Her work here culminated in her leading a team of WCS and Malaysian government staff to write the state’s wildlife policy, and subsequently heading a government unit to oversee its implementation. Her conservation work has been recognized with several awards, including an Order of the Golden Ark from the Netherlands, MBE from the UK, and Merdeka Award for Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia.Back
Dr. Steve Boyes has dedicated his life to conserving Africa’s wilderness areas and the species that depend upon them through innovative and integrative methods. After working as a camp manager and wilderness guide in the Okavango Delta, Steve went on to complete his Ph.D. field work on the little-known Meyer's parrot. This work led to his position as a Centre of Excellence Postdoctoral Fellow at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology as well as the founding of the Wild Bird Trust, where Steve continues to serve as the scientific director. In this capacity, Steve initiated the Cape Parrot Project, which aims to stimulate positive change for the species through high-quality research and community-based conservation action. His work also contributed to the selection of the Okavango Delta as a World Heritage site in 2014 and has attracted international attention to the illegal pet trade of African grey parrot. In 2013, Steve was selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and as a TED Fellow in 2014. In 2015, as a National Geographic Fellow and TED Senior Fellow, he launched the Okavango Wilderness Project, a multi-year effort aimed at exploring and protecting the little known wilderness of the Angolan highlands that provides over95 percent of the water that sustains the Okavango Delta and the biodiversity of the greater Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. In 2016, the National Geographic Society signed a $10 million commitment to fund what is now called the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project.
Jennifer Burgin teaches kindergarten in Arlington, Virginia, and co-authored the children’s book A is for Arlington. She is a 2017 National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow, National Geographic Certified Educator, National Board Certified Teacher, and Changing Education Through the Arts Educator with the Kennedy Center. She was named the 2016 Arlington Teacher of the Year after being named the Oakridge Elementary Teacher of the Year. She will co-author a bilingual book about George Washington and 18th century life as a 2019 Life Guard Teacher Fellow with Mount Vernon and work with National Geographic Explorer Ryan Carney on reaching K-12 learners.Back
British marine scientist Emma Camp is bringing hope for the world’s dying reefs through natural selection. She is identifying hot spots of naturally resilient corals that can withstand stresses such as acidic and warming waters. Camp wants to transplant these “super survivors” to areas of the Great Barrier Reef that have been devastated by coral bleaching and enlist volunteers to monitor their survival. Emma Camp is a 2019 Rolex Awards for Enterprise Finalist.Back
In the Amazon, the giant arapaima, the world’s largest scaled freshwater fish, which weighs up to 200 kg, is headed for extinction. But in a close partnership with local associations and fishing leaders, the Brazilian fisheries ecologist has a plan to save not only the arapaima but with it, the livelihoods, food supply and culture of the indigenous communities who depend on the region’s rivers for survival. João Campos-Silva is a 2019 Rolex Awards for Enterprise Finalist.Back
Evolutionary biologist and epidemiologist Ryan Carney is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and a professor of digital science at the University of South Florida. His paleontology research brings flying dinosaurs “back to life” using x-ray imaging, computer animation, and virtual and augmented reality. His team also develops digital tools for predicting and preventing outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases. Carney’s research has been published in Nature, the New York Times, and popular science books, and his artwork in National Geographic. Carney has B.A.s in art and honors biology from UC Berkeley, an M.B.A. and M.P.H. from Yale University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from Brown University.Back
Emma Carrasco is chief marketing and engagement officer and senior vice president, global strategy, at the National Geographic Society, where she leads the marketing, outreach, events, creative, sponsorships, media relations, social media, corporate communications, and internal communications functions. After joining National Geographic in 2016, Carrasco expanded and internationalized the Society’s signature Explorers Festival and took on management of global partnerships with like-minded brands. Carrasco’s career spans over 30 years in marketing, branding, and communications. Previously, she was National Public Radio’s first chief marketing officer, and before that executive vice president at República. Carrasco was inducted into Direct Marketing News’ “Marketing Hall of Femme” as one of the country’s top 15 female chief marketing officers. She’s also been named one of Ad Age’s “Women to Watch.” Carrasco sits on the board of Toast Ale, a social enterprise tackling food waste. She has a B.A. in communication and media studies from Loyola Marymount University.Back
Jean Case, the National Geographic Society’s chairman of the board of trustees, is a philanthropist, investor, and internet and impact investing pioneer who advocates for the importance of embracing a more fearless approach to innovate and bring about transformational breakthroughs. Her career in the private sector, including as a senior executive at AOL, spanned nearly two decades before co-founding the Case Foundation in 1997. In addition, Jean currently serves on the boards of National Geographic Partners, Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2) and the White House Historical Association, and is a member of the advisory boards of the Brain Trust Accelerator Fund, Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative and Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016 and has received honorary degrees from Indiana University and George Mason University. In January 2019, her first book, “Be Fearless: 5 Principles for a Life of Breakthroughs and Purpose,” was published by Simon & Schuster. That same month, it was named a national bestseller.Finally,Jean and her husband, Steve, joined The Giving Pledge and publicly reaffirmed their commitment to give away the majority of their wealth to fund worthy charitable causes.Back
Carmen Chávez is a tropical biologist and serves as director of Peru programs at the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research Foundation (ACEER). Prior to joining ACEER, Chávez worked at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, and was an administrator at the Cocha Cashu Biological Station in Peru’s Manu National Park. Chávez has a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from San Antonio Abad National University, Peru, and an M.Sc. in biology with a focus in biological conservation from Wake Forest University, USA. For her work in conservation education, Chávez leads local teams of professionals and dedicated staff in Peru’s Madre de Dios Region in the design and implementation of experiential education and research programs to enhance the STEM curricula of local schools. Her programs have received national and international recognition. Chávez is currently based in Miami, USA, but travels frequently to Peru and the Amazon region of Madre de Dios.
An award-winning journalist, photographer, and filmmaker from Hong Kong, Laurel Chor tells stories about China’s global impact on the environment.Her ongoing photo project examines traditional Chinese medicine, its users, and the sources of its remedies. She is also investigating how Chinese demand is fueling a new trade in jaguars from South America.In 2013, she founded the HK Explorers Initiative, which encourages people to explore and appreciate the city’s wild side. In 2014, Jane Goodall named her an ambassador for the Jane Goodall Institute Hong Kong.Also a rugby player, she played for Hong Kong in the 2017 Rugby World Cup.Back
Adjany Costa is an Angolan scientist with a master’s degree in environmental science. She serves as the Angola project director for National Geographic’s Okavango Wilderness Project. The project is a multiyear effort to explore and survey Africa’s Okavango River Basin to protect this vital ecosystem. The greater basin is the largest freshwater wetland in southern Africa. Its delta is one of Africa’s richest places for biodiversity and is home to the world’s largest population of elephants, as well as some of Africa’s most iconic wildlife.Back
A scientist based in Switzerland, Courtine is developing a revolutionary approach to help people with paralysis walk again. His method relies on re-establishing communication between the brain and spinal cord using an implantable electronic “bridge”, potentially encouraging nerve regrowth and restoring control of the legs. Grégoire Courtine is a 2019 Rolex Awards for Enterprise Finalist.Back
Erika Cuellar is a Bolivian conservation biologist who has worked for the past decade to help protect the flora and fauna of the Gran Chaco region of South America by empowering local communities to take action. She is committed to furthering local sustainable development, developing international conservation initiatives, and supporting the long-term conservation of natural resources, particularly endangered species. Cuellar has a background in implementing research and conservation initiatives requiring proposal development, networking, fundraising, research design and monitoring, stakeholder engagement, discussions with governmental authorities, and knowledge management related to the training and involvement of local people.
Natasha Daly is a writer and editor at National Geographic, where her investigative reporting focuses on animal exploitation. She was awarded Reporter of the Year in 2017 by the Humane Society of the United States for her animal welfare coverage, and received a 2017 Society of Environmental Journalists storytelling grant. Her feature story on the dark realities of the wildlife tourism industry appears on the June 2019 cover of National Geographic magazine. Before joining National Geographic in 2015, she worked as an editor for two Washington-based nonprofits.From Toronto, Canada, she holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.Back
Guillermo de Anda
Guillermo de Anda is an underwater archaeologist specializing in the study of caves and cenotes, from both the perspective of the Maya civilization and Pleistocene studies. He is also a professor and researcher at the School of Anthropological Sciences of the Autonomous University of Yucatán, where he founded and directed the underwater archaeology section. He is currently developing a karst research center in the Yucatán under the auspices of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the Aspen Institute, and the Universidad Tecnológica de la Rivera Maya. De Anda’s archaeological work has been funded by National Geographic, and he was a 2012 National Geographic Emerging Explorer. He is director of the archaeological project The Cenote Cult, which has been authorized by the National Institute of Anthropology andHistory (INAH) under the academic support of UNAM. De Anda specializes in the study of mortuary and funeral rituals in cenotes, and in 2007, he received the physical anthropology Javier Romero Molina award, granted by the INAH, for his work on the forensic analysis of human bones extracted from Chichén Itzá’s sacred cenote. He received his Ph.D. in Mesoamerican archaeology from UNAM.Back
Asha de Vos
Asha de Vos is a Sri Lankan marine biologist, ocean educator, and pioneer of blue whale research within the northern Indian Ocean. She has degrees from the University of St. Andrews, University of Oxford, and the University of Western Australia, but escaped academia to establish her own Sri Lankan-grown nonprofit, Oceanswell. She also runs "The Sri Lankan Blue Whale Project," the first long-term study on blue whales in her region. Her work has led to many key research publications and is used to inform policy at the local and global level. Additionally, her work has been showcased internationally by Channel 7 Australia (2010), BBC (2010), New York Times (2012), CNN (2012), and WIRED UK (2014), among others. De Vos is the first and only Sri Lankan to have a Ph.D. in marine mammal research, the first Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation from Sri Lanka, and the first National Geographic Emerging Explorer from her small island nation. De Vos’s life work is to change the current marine conservation model, protect this unique population of blue whales, and inspire the next generation of ocean heroes from the developing world. De Vos is a 2016 National Geographic Emerging Explorer.Back
Aurora Elmore is a climate change expert who oversees science, research, and strategy for the National Geographic Society’s Everest Expedition, and its broader Life at the Extremes impact initiative. She received her bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D.degrees in geology with a focus on climate change; she then worked as a researcher at several American and British universities before moving to National Geographic. Elmore has published numerous scientific research papers on the climate and marine chemistry of the North Atlantic, Southern Ocean, and Caribbean. Her expertise has been featured on the National Geographic Channel, and on National Geographic stages in Washington, D.C., and in London, England.Back
At 9 years old, Felix Finkbeiner, inspired by the story of Kenyan politician and environmental activist Wangari Maathai, developed the idea that children could promote climate justice by planting a million trees in every country. With the support of children from over 100 countries, Finkbeiner launched the youth initiative Plant-for-the-Planet in 2007. So far, more than 75,000 youth in 71 countries have been trained in Plant-for-the-Planet Academies. As Climate Justice Ambassadors, the children give speeches to adults and fight for their future. Today, Finkbeiner is a Ph.D. candidate at ETH Zurich studying the potential of forest restoration in addressing the climate crisis.Back
Jordan Fisher is an actor, singer/songwriter, dancer, choreographer, and musician. This year, he co-hosted Dancing With the Stars: Juniors and became the first African American to portray Roger in Fox’s Rent Live. Fisher is working on the film To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before sequel and is voicing the role of Seahawk in Netflix’s reboot of animated series She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. He has starred in a number of TV shows. In 2017, Fisher won the Mirrorball trophy on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. In 2016, he was hailed as a breakout star by MTV and People magazine for his role in Fox’s Emmy-winning broadcast of Grease: Live. He also released his self-titled album in 2016, which debuted at No. 18 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart. Fisher performed a duet with Lin-Manuel Miranda on “You’re Welcome” from Disney’s Moana, and has joined the cast of Miranda’s Tony Award–winning musical Hamilton.
Africa I. Flores-Anderson
Originally from Guatemala, Africa I. Flores-Anderson is a research scientist at the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She is passionate about developing technical capacities in geospatial technologies for societal benefit. As a National Geographic Explorer, she is working to forecast harmful algae blooms in Lake Atitlán using artificial intelligence. She also works with SERVIR, a joint NASA and USAID initiative, where she leads the Land Cover Land Use Change and Ecosystems thematic portfolio and is the SERVIR-Amazonia science coordination lead. Flores’s research focuses on forest monitoring, water quality, and ecological forecasting.Back
Ron Garan is a highly decorated fighter pilot and test pilot, explorer, entrepreneur, and humanitarian who believes that appropriately designed and targeted social enterprise can solve many of the world’s problems. He is currently the chief pilot for World View Enterprises, a high-altitude and space company. Garan is a retired NASA astronaut who spent more than 175 days in space, completed four spacewalks, and flew on both the U.S. space shuttle and the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Also an aquanaut, Garan spent 18 days working on the ocean floor during a joint NASA-NOAA exploration research mission held in Aquarius, the world’s only undersea research laboratory.Back
Pablo García Borboroglu
The Argentinian biologist is proposing a worldwide campaign to address the plight of penguins, who are among the most critically endangered seabirds. The so-called“lawyer of the penguins” is addressing the threats they face with a mixture of science, management and education, by fostering a conservation culture in communities and government. His innovative approach has so far helped to secure 32 million acres of penguin habitat. Pablo García Borboroglu is a 2019 Rolex Awards for Enterprise Finalist.Back
Sean Gerrity, founder of American Prairie Reserve (APR),is committed to biodiversity conservation. He and his team are working to create the largest wildlife complex ever assembled in the continental United States. When complete, the reserve will comprise some 3.2 million contiguous acres of native grassland in northeastern Montana, with the goal of restoring the wildlife abundance the landscape once contained. APR has been featured in numerous National Geographic productions including American Serengeti. Gerrity is a member of the National Geographic Society’s Last Wild Places advisory council. He is also writing a book to help inspire others to launch large-scale, APR-style conservation efforts.Back
Ocean ecologist Jonatha Giddens is a fellow at the National Geographic Society Exploration Technology Lab where she is developing a research program to assess biodiversity in the deep sea. This program will provide an indicator of ecosystem health while inspiring people to care about the deep sea through the science, art, and storytelling of deep-ocean exploration. With a background in natural and social sciences and training in art and traditional storytelling, Giddens uses art, science, and technology to imagine and help create a brighter future for our ocean. She has a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Delaying treatment for malaria for weeks while waiting for test results is common in rural Africa. Gitta is conducting trials on a novel, low-cost, portable device, the Matiscope, which provides results in minutes using light and magnets–without the need for a blood sample. In 2017, Africa had 200 million cases of malaria. Brian Gitta is a 2019 Rolex Awards for Enterprise Finalist.Back
Ecologist and epidemiologist Chris Golden is a professor of nutrition and planetary health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health where he investigates the nexus of trends in global environmental change and human health. He holds a B.A. from Harvard College and an M.P.H. in epidemiology and a Ph.D. in environmental science from UC Berkeley. For the past 20 years, Golden has been conducting environmental and public health research in Madagascar where he created nonprofit Madagascar Health and Environmental Research. Golden is a 2014 National Geographic Emerging Explorer. His research has been published in Nature, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.Back
Dominique Gonçalves is a Mozambican ecologist focused on elephant conservation in Gorongosa National Park. She currently manages Gorongosa’s Elephant Ecology Project, investigating elephant movement and range expansion in relation to habitat use and human-elephant conflict. Working with law enforcement and sustainable development colleagues, Gonçalves hopes to build coexistence between communities and wildlife throughout the park’s buffer zone. A passionate advocate of girls’ education to prevent early marriage, Gonçalves also works with the park’s Girls’ Club. She has an M.Sc. in conservation biology and is a Ph.D. candidate in biodiversity management at the University of Kent’s Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology.
Whitney Goodell is a marine ecologist and geospatial analyst whose work ranges from broad-scale global ecological studies to local-scale marine management efforts. She currently works with National Geographic’s Exploration Technology Lab to explore the biological communities of the deep sea and shed light on the biodiversity patterns there. She is also involved in ongoing conservation research in coastal Mozambique, contributing to the development and adaptation of local-scale management efforts. Previously, Goodell was a Fulbright Award recipient and conducted near shore fisheries research in Brazil. With an appreciation of multimodal approaches to ecosystem conservation, Goodell explores many ways to better understand and protect our ocean.
Ananta Gajurel heads the Department of Geology at the Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus of Tribhuvan University, Nepal, where he has been a faculty member for more than 26 years. Gajurel has extensive experience in geological field mapping in the high mountain range and foothills of the Himalaya. He received a master of science degree in geology from Tribhuvan University and a second master’s degree and Ph.D. in dynamics of the lithosphere from Joseph Fourier University, in France. He then completed a postdoc at Cornell University, in the United States, and has gone on to publish numerous scientific publications and become a leading geologist in Nepal.
Liliana Gutierrez is executive director of Noroeste Sustentable, a nonprofit supporting coastal communities. A member of the Latin-American Network for Integrated Coastal Management, she works on highly complex multisectoral processes and has received training in conflict resolution, facilitation, mediation, and effective communication. In 2016, Gutierrez helped found Achamar, a for-profit organization that invests in fishery and community restoration. Previously, she was director of environmental policy at Mexico’s environment ministry, SEMARNAT. A graduate fellow at the Academy for Systems Change, Gutierrez has an M.P.A. from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and an M.Sc. from the State University of New York.
National Geographic Emerging Explorer Caleb Harper is a principal research scientist at MIT and director of the Open Agriculture Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. Harper’s lab works to create a more distributed, transparent, and collaborative food system. He has also founded two startups—nonprofit OpenAg Foundation, which helps K-12 students acquire STEAM skills, and a for-profit company co-founded with Flagship Pioneering and the ACRE fund. He is a member of several working groups and boards, including those of the World Economic Forum New Vision for Agriculture, Annenberg Foundation, New Harvest, and USDA’s SmartPath. His work has been widely published and recognized.Back
Andrea Heydlauff is the chief marketing officer for African Parks, a conservation NGO that manages protected areas on behalf of governments across the continent. She has helped position the organization on a local and global scale, creating and telling stories of impact. Prior to joining African Parks, she was the founding employee and senior vice president of Panthera, a big cat conservation organization, and the manager of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Tiger Program across nine Asian countries. Born in England, Heydlauff earned her B.A. in British literature and M.Sc. in wildlife biology from the University of Arizona. She is also an award-winning filmmaker.Back
Over the course of her remarkable career thus far, singer/songwriter Judith Hill has shared her musical gifts in a variety of ways. The Los Angeles native has been a background singer for such legends as Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Ringo Starr, and the late Michael Jackson, serving as the latter’s duet partner on the classic ballad “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” in Jackson’s posthumously released film This Is It. She also appeared in the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of several acclaimed background singers, and earned a Grammy Award for Best Music Film for her participation. Following This Is It, Hill appeared on The Voice, where she began to cement her identity as a solo artist.
After hearing her original songs and watching Hill sing live, Prince produced and played on her debut solo album, Back in Time. The album is an amalgam of soul, funk, blues, and jazz, and showcases Hill’s soulful, powerhouse voice and considerable songwriting prowess.
Hill earned a degree in music composition at Biola University, where she wrote her first symphony as well as pieces for piano, vocal groups, chamber ensembles, and string quartets.Back
Martha Holmes is an award-winning producer at Plimsoll Productions and executive producer of National Geographic’s Hostile Planet,Yellowstone Live, and upcoming Alaska Live. She has overseen the production of numerous wildlife TV series, including Wild Britain and Lion Country: Night and Day, and launched and was an executive producer for the ambitious Camp Zambia production. She’s also worked in some of the most inhospitable places on the planet, helping to create Davina McCall: Life at the Extreme, Predators Up Close With Joel Lambert, and The Story of Cats. Holmes has also embraced the world of our favorite pets through Dogs: The Untold Story and Puppy Secrets: The First Six Months. Prior to Plimsoll Productions, she worked at the BBC Natural History Unit, where her credits include the multi-award-winning Life and Blue Planet. She has a Ph.D. in marine biology.Back
Naftali Honig is a wildlife crime investigator on a mission to protect wildlife. After college, Honig took a backpacking trip that led him to Central Africa. While living in the rain forest of the Republic of the Congo’s Conkouati Douli National Park, Honig met activists who showed him the dynamics of Congo’s illegal wildlife trade and how to combat it. Not long afterward, he witnessed a commercial bushmeat bust and realized the poacher would never face serious punishment. Incidents like this inspired Honig to do something about wildlife trafficking and weak governance. Honig co-founded EAGLE (Eco-Activists for Governance and Law Enforcement) to bring justice for targeted wildlife. He has also built a unit of wildlife crime detection dogs in the Congo that can detect, among other things, the presence of ivory. He has trained national parks staff in Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Chad to fight wildlife crime through investigations, legal work, and communications. Honig’s horizons widened after conflict broke out in the Central African Republic, bringing rebels to the borders of Congo. Honig now works for African Parks in Garamba National Park in the eastern DRC. In 2016, Honig became a National Geographic Emerging Explorer.
A National Geographic Fellow, engineer, and inventor, Corey Jaskolski uses technology to drive engagement in science, education, and conservation. An MIT graduate, Jaskolski has developed and adapted technologies—from robotic underwater camera systems to extreme environment time-lapse systems—for some of the world’s most unique and unforgiving environments. He also works with National Geographic Labs to enhance machine learning capabilities to support conservation. Recently, he used photogrammetry and a custom-built camera array to capture a 3D copy of one of the last Sumatran rhinos in Indonesia. Jaskolski is co-founder and chief technology officer of Virtual Wonders, a 3D cross-platform media company that shares and protects the world’s special places.Back
Sandesh Kadur creates award-winning wildlife documentary films and photography books exposing the need to conserve threatened species and habitats with the aim of inspiring people to take action. Kadur’s photographs, videos, and documentaries focus on places and species people rarely see. His work spans cloud forests and endangered sea turtles in Mexico, rainforests and king cobras in India, the breeding cycle of threatened birds in Indonesia, and orphaned clouded leopards being rehabilitated back to the Himalayan jungle. His first film, Sahyadris: Mountains of the Monsoons, and its accompanying book were part of the submission that helped convince UNESCO to name the Western Ghats a World Heritage site.Back
Paula Kahumbu received her Ph.D. in Ecology at Princeton University where she studied elephants in coastal Kenya. She is one of Africa’s best known wildlife conservationists. She is the CEO of Wildlife Direct and brainchild of the HANDS OFF OUR ELEPHANTS campaign with Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya. The campaign is widely recognized for its singular successes in advocacy and the engagement of the people of Kenya to support the protection of elephants. At a popular level this never has been experienced before in Kenya or any other elephant range state.
Kahumbu is the winner of the Whitley Award 2014, a National Geographic Buffett Awardee for conservation leadership in Africa in 2011, and is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. She received a special commendation at the United Nations Person of the Year celebrations for her critical role in creating awareness and mobilizing action around the crisis facing elephants in Kenya. She is recognized as a Kenyan conservation ambassador by Brand Kenya and in 2015 received the presidential award and title of Order of the Grand Warrior (OGW).Back
Conservation scientist Krithi Karanth is determined to reduce the friction between wildlife and people living near Indian national parks by reducing threats to people, property and livestock, raising conservation awareness in communities and schools and, importantly, assisting with compensation claims through a toll-free helpline service. Krithi Karanth is a 2019 Rolex Awards for Enterprise Finalist.Back
Singer Elle King’s 2015 gold-certified debut album Love Stuff featured single “Ex’s & Oh’s,” which earned her two Grammy nominations and was certified double platinum. The track hit No. 1 on Billboard Hot Rock Songs, AAA, Hot AC, and Alternative Radio charts, leading King to become the second female artist in 18 years to top the latter. Other career highlights include performing for President Obama at the 2016 Kennedy Center Honors and being featured in Dierks Bentley’s Grammy-nominated “Different for Girls,” for which they won the 2016 CMA Award Musical Event of the Year. King’s second album, Shake the Spirit, was released in 2018.
Holger Klinck directs the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He is also an Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future faculty fellow at Cornell University and an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University. His work focuses on developing and applying hardware and software tools for passive acoustic monitoring of terrestrial and marine ecosystems and biodiversity. One of his goals is to support conservation efforts by enabling researchers to acoustically monitor endangered species and their habitats. Holger earned a Ph.D. at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany.
Kenyan zoologist and conservationist Rebecca Kochulem is west county conservancies director at Northern Rangelands Trust where she provides guidance to local community conservancies and builds support for community-led conservation in national and county governments. Previously, she managed a community conservancy where she spearheaded dialogue between the Il Chamus and Pokot communities in conflict resolution strategies, and kickstarted a breeding program to repopulate the area with endangered Rothschild giraffes. She also identified revolving fund microloans as a livelihood development intervention for women and youth, provided education bursaries, and improved people’s access to healthcare. Kochulem is pursuing a master’s in art, sociology, gender, and development studies.Back
Marine biologist and National Geographic Fellow Heather Koldewey is scientific co-lead of the National Geographic Society’s work to better understand the impact and scope of plastic pollution in our waterways. She is also senior technical advisor at the Zoological Society of London, where she has worked since 1995. The projects she has led over her career have improved the resilience of coastal ecosystems and the well-being of surrounding communities by working to protect marine wildlife, eliminate marine debris, alleviate poverty in coastal communities, and improve consumer buying habits, among other goals. An honorary professor at the University of Exeter, she earned her Ph.D. at Swansea UniversityBack
Arati Kumar-Rao is an independent environmental photographer, writer, and artist documenting the slow violence of ecological degradation. She crisscrosses the South Asian subcontinent following a single story, across seasons, sometimes over years, in order to chronicle South Asia’s changing landscapes and climate, and its effect on livelihoods and biodiversity. She communicates through photos, longform narratives, and art, and is working on her first book. Kumar-Rao is based in Bangalore, India.
Laly Lichtenfeld co-founded African People & Wildlife in 2005 to help rural communities conserve and benefit from their wildlife and natural resources. A 20-year resident of Tanzania, Lichtenfeld specializes in human-wildlife conflict prevention, species conservation focusing on big cats, community empowerment and engagement in natural resource management, conservation education, and the development of conservation incentives for rural people. Lichtenfeld received a Ph.D. from Yale University in 2005. She is a Yale Tropical Resources Institute Distinguished Alumna, a National Geographic Explorer, a recipient of the 2016 Lowell Thomas Award for Open Space Conservation from the Explorers Club, and a 2019 Women of Discovery awardee.Back
Kirsten Luce is an American photographer based in New York. She studied art, anthropology, and journalism at the University of Georgia (United States) and Universidad de Colima (Mexico). Her work has been published in National Geographic, the New York Times, New York Magazine, Bloomberg Business week, Time, Harper’s Magazine, The Marshall Project, ProPublica, Newsweek, GEO, and Der Spiegel. Luce received the Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography in 2016 and was named a finalist for a National Magazine Award in 2015. Her photography has been exhibited in the U.S. Senate, the National Gallery of Canada, Visa Pour l’Image, and several other festivals and galleries.
Quantitative ecologist Heather Lynch is a professor at Stony Brook University studying the population dynamics of Antarctic wildlife. She has co-run the Antarctic Site Inventory project for over a decade and is leading a project building cyber infrastructure for analyzing satellite imagery in the polar regions. She helped pioneer using satellite imagery to study the distribution and abundance of Antarctic seabirds and published the first Antarctic-wide satellite-based surveys of Adélie penguins and Antarctic petrels. Lynch has received an NSF CAREER Award and was an Ecological Society of America Early Career Fellow. She has a Ph.D. in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University.
Actress Camryn Manheim portrayed attorney Ellenor Frutt on ABC’s The Practice for eight years, garnering her Emmy and Golden Globe Awards. She was nominated for an Emmy and Golden Globe for her portrayal of Gladys Presley in miniseries Elvis. Named one of Glamour magazine’s“Women of the Year,” Manheim is an American Civil Liberties Union board member, has received honors from Death Penalty Focus, Western Law Center for Disability Rights, and other organizations, and has received commendations from Los Angeles’ mayor. She is the New York Times best-selling author of Wake Up, I'm Fat! and will appear in ABC’s Stumptown premiering this fall.Back
Rue Mapp is founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, a national nonprofit and social community with reach in 30 states and over 36,000 participants that reconnects African Americans with natural spaces through outdoor recreational activities. In 2010, she participated in the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors, and subsequently was part of the team that helped launch First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative. She has also worked for the Stewardship Council’s Foundation for Youth Investment. Mapp’s work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Backpacker, Ebony, and Sunset magazines, among other outlets. She has been recognized with numerous awards and distinctions.
Tom Matthews is a climate scientist based at Loughborough University in England. He has broad interests in the societal impacts from climate change, but focuses on severe weather events. It is this that drives Matthews to understand the planet's most extreme climates. From deadly tropical heatwaves to severe cold-weather mountain windstorms, Matthews’s research aims to map the limits of Earth’s climate envelope, and chart its course as it is shifted by human-caused climate change.Back
Paul Andrew Mayewski is an internationally acclaimed glaciologist, climate scientist, and polar explorer, and is director of and professor in the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute. Mayewski has led over 55 expeditions to Antarctica, Greenland, Himalaya, Tibet, Andes, and sub-Antarctic Islands; made first ascents in the Transantarctic Mountains ;and traversed more than 25,000 kilometers over Antarctica. His many scientific achievements include documenting naturally and human-produced changes in atmospheric chemistry and discovering the behavior of abrupt climate change events in the atmosphere.He has won numerous honors including the first internationally awarded Medal for Excellence in Antarctic Research and the Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Award.
Rodrigo Medellín is senior professor of ecology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s Institute of Ecology. For over 40 years, he has studied the ecology and conservation of bats and other mammals and implemented public policy for conservation. Medellín has won many awards, been president of conservation societies, and represented Mexico and North America in CITES and other international forums. His work with bats was the focus of the 2014 BBC documentary The Bat Man of Mexico and featured in the 2018 National Geographic documentary Giant Carnivorous Bats. Medellín has produced over 60 theses and 200 publications.
Patrícia Medici is a Brazilian conservationist who has dedicated her life to the conservation of lowland tapirs—the largest land mammal in South America—and their remaining habitats in Brazil. For the past 27 years, Patrícia has worked for the Brazilian nonprofit Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (Institute for Ecological Research), of which she was a founding member. In 1996, she founded the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative, which has directly led to the development of global, national, and regional tapir conservation strategies and action plans. Also, for almost two decades, Patrícia has been the chairperson of the IUCN SSC Tapir Specialist Group, helping to grow a global network of over 130 tapir conservationists from 27 countries.
Kira Mileham is a science communicator focused on species conservation through collaborative partnerships. As the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s director of strategic partnerships, Mileham is responsible for strengthening the global efforts of the commission’s network of 8,000 scientific experts through partnerships with NGOs, zoos and aquariums, corporate partners, and government agencies. Mileham sits on the council of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums as well as the conservation committees of most of the world’s regional zoo and aquarium associations. She holds degrees in conservation ecology and public relations and has a Ph.D. in human behavior change and impact evaluation.Back
Sahar Mohammadzadeh is a freshman at Harvard University studying government and economics. She co-founded the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team in eighth grade, working on its investigation into the inequities facing Kentucky students transitioning from high school to college. She also led its partnerships with the Council on Postsecondary Education and National Council for Community and Education Partnerships, writing and directing PSAs encouraging students to apply for college financial aid, and was executive editor of its book, Ready or Not. She also serves on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Postsecondary Value Commission and on the board of Harvard Model Congress.Back
A French volcanologist, Moussallam is planning two expeditions aboard a traditional Polynesian sailing vessel to measure and analyse gases and aerosols emitted from 17 of the most active volcanoes along an arc of the world’s most volcanically-active region–the Pacific Ring of Fire. His objective is to understand the effect volcanic gases have on global climate, while sharing the adventure and his discoveries via the Internet. Yves Moussallam is a 2019 Rolex Awards for Enterprise Finalist.Back
Pete Muller is a photographer and multimedia reporter based in Nairobi, Kenya. His work focuses largely on conflict, masculinity, and national identity in post-colonial states. He has won various awards and is a member of the photographic collective Prime. Muller is a contributing photographer to the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic magazine, and other leading photographic outlets. He has provided media support for human rights and development organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, UNICEF, Norwegian People’s Aid, and Greenpeace.Back
Alex Muñoz is director of National Geographic Pristine Seas for Latin America. His and his team’s work has led to the creation of the seven largest fully protected marine reserves in Latin America, made possible through collaborations with governments and local groups. He also helped influence important changes to Chile’s fishing legislation: The country has protected all its seamounts from destructive fishing (the first country in the world to do so), introduced a system of fishing quotas based on scientific recommendations, prohibited shark finning, and protected vast areas in Patagonia from salmon farming. He is a 2019 Yale University World Fellow.Back
Paleontologist and National Geographic Explorer Isaiah Nengo is director of research and science at Turkana Basin Institute, Kenya. His research in the Turkana Basin focuses on how climate change and tectonics drove mammal diversity in Africa and shaped the evolution of ape and human ancestors. His fieldwork has led to the discovery of many fossil apes, including recently a 13-million-year-old nearly complete infant ape skull. Nengo holds a B.Sc. in zoology and botany from the University of Nairobi and a Ph.D. in biological anthropology from Harvard University. He was a Fulbright Scholar at the National Museums of Kenya and the University of Nairobi in 2012-13.
In 2014, Olivier designed a unique conservation project to abolish the illegal trade of the endangered Grey Crowned Cranes in Rwanda and won the Rolex Award for Enterprise which allowed him to start implementing the work. He established Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association in 2015 to build on the work with Grey Crowned Cranes and expand research and conservation efforts to other endangered and threatened species in Rwanda. Olivier has been a finalist in the 2016 Tusk Conservation Awards, received the 2017 National Geographic Buffett Award for Leadership in Conservation in Africa, and winner of the 2018 Whitley Awards and 2019 Future for Nature Awards. Olivier is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and has a Master of Veterinary Science, Conservation Medicine from the University of Edinburgh, UK.
Intan Suci Nurhati
Intan Suci Nurhati is a paleoclimatologist and paleoceanographer at the Research Center for Oceanography at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI). She received bachelor’s degrees in environmental science and economics from Wesleyan University, United States, as a Freeman Asian Scholar. Her honors thesis studied past oceanography and climate in central Indonesia using deep-sea sediments. She received her Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology, United States, with a certificate in environmental public policy. She continued her scientific career as a postdoctoral associate, soon after promoted to senior postdoctoral associate and research scientist, at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology. Her postdoctoral works studied past climate in Indonesia using corals and trees, as well as marine pollution like sedimentation and heavy metals in the Indian Ocean region via coral skeletal geochemistry. Nurhati became a permanent researcher at LIPI in 2016. Her current work focuses on paleoclimate studies in Indonesia, as well as studying the utility of corals in reconstructing past ocean acidification changes and their impact on corals in Indonesia. She received a Bradshaw Award for Research Excellence from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2010, a Green Talents Award from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research in 2013, a United Nations Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission-Western Pacific Best Young Scientist Award in 2014, and a Best Speaker Award from the Indonesian Oceanology Society in 2016. She has received several international research grants, including from The World Academy of Sciences, USAID-PEER Science, and World Bank-Asian Development Bank programs.
L. Baker Perry is a professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. He holds a Ph.D. in geography with a focus on climatology from the University of North Carolina and his field-based research interests include alpine precipitation formation, snow and ice, and precipitation-glacier-climate interactions. Perry teaches courses on climate change, atmospheric circulation, snow and ice, mountain geography, and tropical Andean glacier-climate interactions. He has led or co-led 21 research expeditions in the tropical Andes and—along with local collaborators—has installed and maintained five meteorological stations above an elevation of 5,000 meters.Back
Vicki Phillips is executive vice president and chief education officer at the National Geographic Society where she oversees the Society’s evolving education strategy and programs. Phillips’ career in education spans over three decades. Before joining National Geographic, she served as an education strategist in the U.S. and internationally, was CEO in residence at Educurious, and director of education, college ready, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She has also been a teacher, state-level policymaker, superintendent of schools, and chief state school officer. Phillips holds a doctor of education from the UK’s University of Lincoln and three honorary doctorates. A governing council founding member for England’s National College for School Leadership, she has been an advisor for Harvard’s Urban Superintendents and Holdsworth Center’s District Leadership programs. A senior executive coach for theInstitute for Personal Leadership, she sits on the boards of Enlearn and School by Design. She’s won a British Council Social Impact Award.Back
Austria native Barbara Promberger is, together with her husband, a co-founder and executive director of Foundation Conservation Carpathia, one of the largest private conservation initiatives in Europe, which works to create a world-class wilderness reserve in Romania’s Southern Carpathian Mountains. Promberger studied biology at the University of Vienna and moved to Romania in the 1990s to study wolves, bears, and lynx and their interactions with their natural prey. Passionate about horses and exploring wild places, she and her husband have also created an equestrian ecotourism facility at the foot of Romania’s Fagaras Mountains where they live with their two daughters.
A man at the front line of exploration and one of the world’s most experienced science expedition leaders, Paul Rose helps scientists unlock and communicate global mysteries in the most remote and challenging regions of the planet.Expedition leader forNational Geographic Pristine Seas, he also presents BBC television programs. Previously, he was vice president of the Royal Geographical Society and base commander of Rothera Research Station, Antarctica, for the British AntarcticSurvey. Rose has been awardedHer Majesty The Queen’s Polar Medal and, for his work with NASA, the U.S.Polar Medal.A mountain in Antarctica is named after him.Back
Through a healthcare system that digitally connects a network of 1,500 home-based women doctors with people in rural and impoverished communities, Pakistani public health specialist and entrepreneur Sara Saeed is providing low-cost, high-quality, primary healthcare to tens of thousands of people, and helping to stem infant and maternal deaths. Sara Saeed is a 2019 Rolex Awards for Enterprise Finalist.Back
Dr. Enric Sala is a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence dedicated to restoring the health and productivity of the ocean. His more than 120 scientific publications are widely recognized and used for real-world conservation efforts such as the creation of marine reserves. Enric is currently working to help protect the last pristine marine ecosystems worldwide, and to develop new business models for marine conservation. He founded and leads National Geographic’s Pristine Seas, a project that combines exploration, research, and media to inspire country leaders to protect the last wild places in the ocean. To date, Pristine Seas has helped to create 13 of the largest marine reserves on the planet, covering an area of over 4.5 million square kilometers.
Enric has received many awards including 2008 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, 2013 Research Award from the Spanish Geographical Society, 2013 Lowell Thomas Award from the Explorers Club, and a 2013 Hero Award from the Environmental Media Association. He is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Enric’s experience and scientific expertise contributes to his service on advisory boards of international organizations and governments.
Eric Schulze is a molecular biologist, genetic engineer, science policy strategist, STEM educator,TV presenter, and former federal biotechnology regulator. He is currently vice president of product and regulation at Memphis Meats, where he leads design and development of the company’s products as well as its regulatory, policy, and government affairs. He previously served as senior scientist for Memphis Meats. Before that, he served as a U.S.Food and Drug Administration regulator, handling a portfolio of novel biotechnology products. He holds a Ph.D.in genetic, cellular, and molecular biology with a specialty in embryonic stem cell engineering and is trained in broadcast communication and risk assessment.Back
Tracie Seimon is director of the Wildlife Conservation Society Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory at the Bronx Zoo, New York, where she works to help protect some of the world’s most iconic wildlife species. An experienced mountaineer, Seimon leads along-term research and monitoring initiative focused in the high Peruvian Andes to understand how amphibians and other life forms are adapting to climate change, and most recently expanded her studies to understanding biodiversity in the high Himalaya. Seimon also makes annual trips to tornado alley in the U.S. Great Plains to study and document severe storms. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.Back
Gautam Shah is the founder of Internet of Elephants, a social enterprise that develops groundbreaking digital tools to engage people with wildlife. Through unique mobile games, augmented reality and data visualizations that use GPS and other data gathered about individual animals, Internet of Elephants tells the stories of individual animals studied by conversation organizations and individuals all over the world. In doing so, Shah hopes to catalyze whole new approaches to engaging the public with wildlife.
CeCe Sieffert is deputy director at the International Rhino Foundation (IRF), which is dedicated to the survival of the world’s rhino species through conservation and research. IRF believes that protecting rhinos also helps ensure that other species that share their habitat, including people, will also thrive. Responsible for overseeing all field programs, she works with IRF’s conservation partners to maximize the foundation’s investments and makes sure partners have everything they need to save rhinos. When in the United States, Sieffert supports the fundraising, administration, and communications teams, and collaborates with zoos, foundations, and other organizations to rally support and interest in rhino conservationBack
Award-winning National Geographic photojournalist and conservationist Brian Skerry specializes in marine wildlife and underwater environments—from tropical coral reefs to polar ice. Over his career, Skerry has spent over 10,000 hours underwater. While on assignment, he’s lived on the bottom of the sea, spent months aboard fishing boats, and traveled in everything from snowmobiles to canoes to the Goodyear Blimp to get the picture. The 2017 Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year and a National Geographic Fellow, he's been a contributing photographer to National Geographic magazine since 1998 and won the coveted Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition numerous times.Back
A special correspondent for Getty Images and regular contributor to National Geographic magazine, photographer Brent Stirton specializes in documentary work and is known for his focus on the intersection of man and the environment. He works regularly for Human Rights Watch and with the Environmental Investigation Agency, LAGA, the Gates and Clinton Foundations, and various United Nations groups. He’s received a Peabody Award, two awards from the Overseas Press Club, and 10 from the World Press Photo Foundation. Stirton's photos have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, le Figaro, GQ, GEO, and other respected international titles.Back
Nicole Stott has explored from the heights of outer space to the depths of our ocean. A former veteran NASA astronaut, she went on two spaceflights, spent 104 days working in space on both the space shuttle and the International Space Station, performed a spacewalk, and was a crew member on the space shuttle Discovery’s final flight, among other accomplishments. Stott was also a NASA aquanaut, who lived and worked for 18 days—the longest saturation mission to date—on the Aquarius undersea habitat. An artist, and now retired from NASA, Stott is the founder of the Space for Art Foundation.Back
Anand Varma is a 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.
Varma started photographing natural history subjects while studying integrative biology at UC Berkeley, and spent several years assisting other photographers before receiving a National Geographic Young Explorer grant to document the wetlands of Patagonia. He has since become a regular contributor to National Geographic and his first feature story, called “Mindsuckers,” was published on the November 2014 cover of the magazine.
Varma grew up in Atlanta and currently resides in Berkeley.
Long involved in investigating how to solve the problem of plastic pollution,California-based, Canadian entrepreneur and molecular biologist Miranda Wang is spearheading an innovative process of turning unrecyclable plastic waste from items such as plastic bags and packing materials into valuable chemicals for use in industrial and consumer products, including making cars and electronics. Miranda Wang is a 2019 Rolex Awards for Enterprise Finalist.Back
On a mission to help save the world’s rainforests, American technologist Topher White has created a real-time warning system that can report illegal logging, using repurposed smartphones as “intelligent ears”. The phones also enable scientists to monitor the sounds of rare or important species of birds and animals, creating a vast digital library of raw acoustic data to aid conservation. Topher White is a 2019 Rolex Awards for Enterprise Finalist.Back
An Indonesian/Dutch activist and changemaker, Melati Wijsen co-founded Bye Bye Plastic Bags in 2013 at age 12 with her younger sister on their home island, Bali. Six years later, Bye Bye Plastic Bags has 40+ teams around the world led by young people. In 2016, Wijsen started One Island One Voice, which encourages Bali-based businesses to say no to single-use plastic; in 2017, she started the social enterprise Mountain Mamas empowering women in the Bali mountains. Wijsen has spoken at TED, the EU Parliament, and the UN, and helped inspire Bali to ban single-use plastics in 2019. Wijsen’s next project is focused on youth empowerment.Back
Catherine Workman is senior director of wildlife grants at the National Geographic Society, where she designs strategic priorities for and adaptively manages the overall mission and metrics of the wildlife grant portfolio. Her work has spanned the globe—from helping develop strategies to stop the killing, trafficking, and demand for elephant ivory to serving National Geographic’s BioBlitz, an annual citizen science initiative in U.S. national parks. Workman previously served as an AAAS Science Policy Fellow in USAID’s Office of Forestry and Biodiversity, where she helped address issues from unsustainable fishing to illegal logging. She has a Ph.D. in evolutionary anthropology from Duke University.Back
Large-carnivore ecologist Rae Wynn-Grant studies the drivers of human-carnivore conflict and how human development can either facilitate or disrupt connectivity of carnivore habitat. She is currently researching potential habitat corridors in eastern Montana to improve grizzly bear conservation. Her scientific work has been used to protect African lions in Kenya and Tanzania, and black bears in the western United States. Wynn-Grant is a National Geographic Society Fellow, an American Museum of Natural History visiting scientist, and an adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University. She has a Ph.D. in ecology and evolution from Columbia University.
Brian Wyrwas is chief scientific officer and co-founder of Finless Foods. Harnessing cellular biology, Finless Foods is developing a groundbreaking way to produce nutritious, environmentally friendly versions of fish and seafood products by growing marine-animal cells on their own, instead of using live fish. Wyrwas was previously a research technician at Weil Cornell Medical College where he worked in the field of endocrine oncology, focusing on the primary culture of cells that experience uncontrolled growth for therapeutic interventions. These interventions included small molecule inhibitors, combinatory therapeutics, and CART therapy. Wyrwas has a B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology.Back
Kaitlin Yarnall is chief storytelling officer and senior vice president at the National Geographic Society, where she expands the organization’s impact in all forms of storytelling including photography, journalism, film, and public experiences. Over nearly 15 years at National Geographic, Yarnall has assumed a variety of management roles, including leading National Geographic Labs and serving as an executive editor at National Geographic magazine. As executive editor, Yarnall also acted as lead editorial manager for the groundbreaking Future of Food project. She joined National Geographic as a cartographer in 2005. Yarnall has been a keynote speaker at conferences around the globe, been a panelist at a United Nations roundtable, and addressed Scandinavian royals and rock concert audiences. She has also written extensively about information graphics, data visualization, and cartography. Yarnall sits on Media Impact Funders’ Board of Directors. She has a B.A. in geography and Spanish literature from Humboldt State University and an M.A. in geography from The George Washington University.Back
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