2017 Emerging Explorers (part I)

Each year the National Geographic Society recognizes a group of gifted and inspiring scientists, conservationists, storytellers, and innovators—explorers who are already making a difference and changing the world: Emerging Explorers.

Emerging Explorers are a part of our Explorers Festival (June 15-18), which brings together some of the world’s top researchers, advocates, and storytellers. While they come from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, each is an exemplary explorer of our world and beyond.

See the rest of our Emerging Explorers in this post!

Read about what our Emerging Explorers are working on. Then use our resources and discussion questions to bring them into your own classroom of explorers!

Joe Grabowski

Joe Grabowski, Photograph by GuelphToday.com

Joe is an educator and scuba diver using technology to bring exploration into the classroom.


Read our “Educator of the Week” featuring Joe.

Learn about Joe’s initiative, “Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants.”

Check out National Geographic’s “Explorer Classroom” program.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Besides making class more interesting, what are are some benefits of having students hear directly from scientists, astronauts, and activists?
  2. What type of explorer would you most want to do an Explorer Classroom with?


Adjany Costa

Costa, Adjany
Adjany Costa, Photograph by James Kydd

Adjany is a conservationist and fish expert (ichthyologist) working to protect biodiversity in the Okavango River Basin.


What is an ichthyologist?

Watch our “Explorer Classroom” session with Adjany

Learn more about Adjany’s work on the Okavango Wilderness Project

Discussion Questions:

  1. What can studying fish tell us about the rest of an ecosystem?  
  2. What factors threaten biodiversity in the Okavango River Basin?


Ryan Carney

Carney, Ryan
Ryan Carney, Photograph courtesy Ryan Carney

Ryan is an evolutionary biologist and epidemiologist using 3D technology to analyze everything from dinosaurs’ movements to the path of mosquito-borne illnesses.


Learn how Ryan is “bringing dinosaurs back to life.”

Activity on convergent evolution

Ryan has created models to predict and prevent Zika virus. Learn more about what Zika virus is, where it’s found, and how to prevent it.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How can looking to the past help us understand the biology of species today?
  2. Why are mosquito-borne illnesses more common in some parts of the world than others?


Federico Fanti

Fanti, Federico 2.12.54 PM
Federico Fanti, Photograph by Luigi ‘Jerri’ Cantelli

Federico is a paleontologist studying adaptation and extinction events—and he discovered the largest sea-dwelling crocodile.


What is paleontology?

Read about the 9-year-old who has a pterosaur fossil named after her.

Read about the monster-size crocodile Federico discovered in 2016.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How could studying extinction events help us better understand our world?
  2. What is the first thing you would do if you discovered a fossil in your backyard?


Grace C. Young

Young, Grace C
Grace C. Young, Photograph by Allegra Boverman, MIT News

Grace is an ocean engineer using underwater technology to advance marine conservation.


Learn about Grace’s experience living underwater during Mission 31

How has technology advanced ocean discovery?

What are marine protected areas (MPAs)?

Discussion Questions:

  1. What would you miss the most about life on land if you started to live as an underwater “aquanaut”?
  2. Whose responsibility is it to protect the ocean?


M Jackson

Jackson, M
M Jackson, Photograph by James Bernal

M is a geographer and glaciologist examining the relationship between people and glaciers to understand climate change.


Collection of Nat Geo resources on glaciers

Video about glacial melt

Why Melting Glaciers Matter to the Coasts

Discussion Questions:

  1. How can observing glaciers teach us about climate change?
  2. What species are affected by changes in glaciers?


Ricardo Moreno

Moreno, Ricardo
Ricardo Moreno, Photograph courtesy Ricardo Moreno

Ricardo is a wildlife biologist working to promote coexistence between wild cats and humans.


Collection of activities about big cats

Big Cats Initiative

Read more about Ricardo’s work with jaguars in Panama

Discussion Questions:

  1. What threats do big cats face?
  2. What do you think is the most important element to make wildlife conservation efforts successful?


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