A Brief Introduction to National Geographic’s 2012 Emerging Explorers

What do a chemist, a cyborg anthropologist, an underwater archaeologist, a crisis mapper, and 11 other scientists have in common? Aside from being very specialized and determined researchers, they comprise the class of 15 new National Geographic Emerging Explorers for 2012. “National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers Program recognizes and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring young adventurers, scientists, photographers, and storytellers–explorers who are already making a difference early in their careers. To help the Emerging Explorers realize their potential, National Geographic awards each of them $10,000 for research and exploration.”


Krithi Karanth, an Emerging Explorer and the Society’s 10,000th Research Grant Recipient, is out to analyze complex human-wildlife interactions (such as with this Bengal Tiger in one of the planet’s most populous hot spots: India.” Photo by Austin Perez.

Unlike National Geographic’s Young Explorer Program, which awards grants for even greener promising researchers and explorers under the age of 25, the Emerging Explorers themselves do not apply for the honor. Rather, National Geographic collaborates with a network of experts who nominate qualified candidates each year, unbeknownst to the nominees. Candidates must show a potential for expanding the realm of knowledge in their respective fields, a more subjective requirement that is characterized by their recent accomplishments demonstrating potential for future breakthroughs. 
Nominees are also selected based on their representation of distinct demographic groups and geographic locations throughout the world: “The Emerging Explorers Program should reflect the world’s diversity and should be a home for dynamic personalities who are making a significant contribution to world knowledge through exploration.” To learn more about the fifteen new 2012 explorers, as well as previous emerging explorers, visit our Explorers website

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