The Coolest People You’ll Ever Meet

Meet the 2013 class of National Geographic Emerging Explorers!

Each year National Geographic selects a group of exceptional individuals, or “Emerging Explorers,” who are at the forefront of discovery, adventure and global problem-solving. What is an explorer? Well, for National Geographic, explorers are people working in the field on research, conservation, exploration or education projects. The Emerging Explorers are selected and recognized by National Geographic as people who are already making a difference early in their careers. Each Emerging Explorer receives a $10,000 award to assist with their research and to aid further exploration, as well as an invitation to attend the annual Explorers Symposium at National Geographic Headquarters.

Image courtesy National Geographic Society Next generation of Innovative Scientists and Visionaries Pushing Boundaries of Discovery, Adventure and Global Problem-Solving
Next generation of Innovative Scientists and Visionaries Pushing Boundaries of Discovery, Adventure and Global Problem-Solving.
Image courtesy National Geographic Society

This year’s class of 17 Emerging Explorers includes an astrobiologist, a roboticist, a conservation biologist, an artist, an anthropologist and a humanitarian.

What does it take to be an Emerging Explorer? Here are a few examples from the new class:

  • Planetary geologist Bethany Ehlmann tells the Curiosity rover on Mars what to do every day.
  • Adventurer and conservationist Gregg Treinish just got back from an expedition looking for wolverines in Mongolia. He connects scientists with extreme adventurers to help collect data and advance conservation.
  • Science educator and astrobiologist Brendan Mullan makes complex science and astrobiology concepts relatable, accessible and entertaining. He’s known for blending these concepts with pop culture.
  • Geophysicist and glaciologist Erin Pettit uses sound to analyze glaciers and help understand and predict climate change. She has also created a program that brings high school girls to glacial landscapes.
  • Innovator and entrepreneur Tan Le is advancing EEG technology by creating a platform for people to participate in brain research and share data. She is on a mission to better understand what happens in our brain.
  • Humanitarian Lale Labuko fights to end the ritualistic killing of infants and children in Ethiopia’s Omo River Valley.

For full bios of the 2013 Emerging Explorers, go to

The National Geographic Emerging Explorers are incredibly inspirational people. The Emerging Explorers prove the importance of pushing boundaries, making a difference and contributing to the world’s knowledge through exploration. They are talented, passionate and driven (not to mention a little crazy); but most importantly, Emerging Explorers are role models. They have the “cool factor” because they make science real and learning exciting.  As the school year winds down, take a minute to learn more about the new class of Emerging Explorers and share their projects and stories with your students. Who knows? The next Emerging Explorer might be sitting in your classroom.

Can’t get enough? Watch, read about and share the presentations from past Emerging Explorers.

The new Emerging Explorers are introduced in the June 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine, and comprehensive profiles can be found at

Read the official 2013 Emerging Explorers Press Release.

By Nina Page

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