WASHINGTON (Feb. 8, 2008)—Eleven visionary, young trailblazers from around the world — including a zoologist, anthropologist, cultural storytellers, musician/HIV activist, and marine, wildlife and environmental conservationists — have been named to the 2008 class of National Geographic Emerging Explorers.
National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers Program recognizes and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring adventurers, scientists, photographers and storytellers making a significant contribution to world knowledge through exploration while still early in their careers. The Emerging Explorers each receive a $10,000 award to assist with research and to aid further exploration. PNY Technologies is the mission partner and “flash memory of choice” for the Emerging Explorers Program.
Emerging Explorers for 2008 are social environmental advocate Alexandra Cousteau, of Washington, D.C.; marine conservationist Brad Norman, of Cottesloe, Australia; biological anthropologist Jill Pruetz, of Ames, Iowa; sustainable agriculture and development experts Cid Simões and Paola Segura, of Lauro de Freitas, Brazil; wildlife conservationist Hammerskjoeld Simwinga, of Mpika, Zambia; environmental conservationist Tsetsegee Munkhbayar, of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; humanitarian and musician Zinhle Thabethe, of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa; new media cultural storytellers Sol Guy and Josh Thome, of Vancouver, Canada; and zoologist and physiological ecologist Martin Wikelski, of Princeton, N.J.
The new Emerging Explorers are introduced in the February 2008 issue of National Geographic magazine. A Web feature at http://www.nationalgeographic.com/emerging includes comprehensive profiles of the explorers and their activities. PNY Technologies has launched a microsite to create awareness for the program as well as support the explorers’ research and expeditions. For more information, visit http://www.pny.com/EmergingExplorers/.
National Geographic Emerging Explorers may be selected from virtually any field, from the Society’s traditional arenas of anthropology, archaeology, photography, space exploration, earth sciences, mountaineering and cartography to the worlds of art, music and filmmaking.
“National Geographic’s mission is to inspire people to care about the planet, and our Emerging Explorers are outstanding adventurers whose endeavors further this mission. We are pleased to honor these exciting new leaders who are setting out on promising careers. They represent tomorrow’s Edmund Hillarys, Jacques Cousteaus and Dian Fosseys,” said Terry Garcia, National Geographic’s executive vice president for Mission Programs.
“A key mission of National Geographic over the past 120 years has been to chronicle achievements of explorers,” said Tony Gomez, vice president, sales and marketing, PNY Technologies. “Recognized as the ‘flash memory of choice’ of the Emerging Explorers Program, our new high-speed flash memory cards are able to perform in the most extreme explorer situations, while providing click-to-click performance so you never miss the picture you want. From extreme cold to extreme heat, explorers will be prepared to capture the perfect moment every time.”
National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers are part of the Society’s Explorers Program, which includes 13 Explorers-in-Residence and four National Geographic Fellows.
Alexandra Cousteau: Her legendary grandfather Jacques and father Philippe explored the world’s ocean wonders, but today social environmental advocate Alexandra Cousteau explores new ways to protect and conserve both marine and freshwater ecosystems. Advocating the importance of conservation and sustainable management of marine resources for a healthy planet and productive societies, she works to inspire and empower individuals to protect not only oceans and marine creatures, but also human communities for whom pure water is essential. Her current initiatives focus on water as the defining crisis of our century, the main vehicle through which climate change will be felt—from droughts, storms and floods to degrading water quality and major conflicts over water resulting in increasing water refugee crises. Cousteau also moves people to action through EarthEcho International, a nonprofit organization she founded with her brother, Philippe. The group explores new media opportunities and partnerships among diverse groups and provides a platform for emerging environmental leaders.
Brad Norman: Using photography as his main conservation tool, marine conservationist Brad Norman is dedicated to the understanding and protection of the highly elusive and endangered whale shark. His research, using a breakthrough photo analysis technique that he developed with a computer engineer and astronomer linked to NASA, has proved whale sharks have unique skin patterns. A photograph can act as a visual tag that allows scientists to recognize, record and track each individual. This innovative approach of automating the analysis of pattern data utilizing a technique used to map star patterns could open a new world in animal recognition. Norman’s team has already received interest from researchers working with more than 30 other species, including manta rays, whales, dolphins, turtles, African wild dogs, lions and cheetahs. Norman founded ECOCEAN, the not-for-profit conservation group that manages an extensive photo-identification database on the Internet (see www.whaleshark.org). In an innovative way to engage the global community, Norman is encouraging divers and tourists across the world to submit photos of whale sharks for the database, thus creating a public awareness campaign for this threatened species. Some 12,000 photographs of whale sharks from 38 countries have been added to the database, revealing 1,150 individual whale sharks to date.
Jill Pruetz: Jill Pruetz, associate professor of anthropology at Iowa State University, conducts fieldwork around the world, shedding light on how ecology influences today’s primates and shaped early human behavior. As a primatologist, she has studied non-human primates such as chimpanzees, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, tamarins, patas monkeys and vervet monkeys in such locales as Peru, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Kenya and Senegal. She is especially interested in the influence of ecology on primate and early human feeding, ranging and social behavior. She currently has a research project in southeastern Senegal that is studying the behavior of chimps in a habitat similar to that of early hominids. She plans to conduct a distance education course from the site, allowing students the chance to observe chimps live in the field via satellite computers and phones. Pruetz was previously co-director of the nonprofit organization DANTA, which is affiliated with the El Zota Biological Field Station in Costa Rica, where she taught courses on primate behavior and ecology.
Cid Simões and Paola Segura: Since graduating from Earth University in 1998, Cid Simões and wife Paola Segura, inspired by their vision for world agriculture and concern for those living in rural areas, have created and implemented innovative projects in sustainable agriculture and development that help Brazil’s small farmers prosper while protecting threatened habitats. Through their consulting firm Segura & Simões, S.A., they are involved in several projects, including sustainable production of the African palm for biodiesel fuel and a reforestation initiative in which tropical fruit trees and natural species are planted on degraded soil. They recently concluded a business plan for a 500-acre organic banana project in the state of Ceará. Their latest initiative is aimed at making small, rural land areas as economically productive as an equivalent small business in an urban area. Their ultimate goal is to reverse the flight of rural people to urban areas by providing strong economic incentives for them to stay on their land. This would help with permanent reforestation, recovery and conservation of degraded soil, and protection of watersheds and springs.
Hammerskjoeld Simwinga: Hammer Simwinga is founder and executive director of the Foundation for Wildlife and Habitat Conservation in Zambia, a nongovernmental organization working to help underprivileged rural groups living near North Luangwa National Park engage in sustainable economic activities as an alternative to poaching and to encourage them to take part in wildlife and habitat conservation. This Foundation was born in July 2007 as a result of a concern to improve the livelihoods of some of the poorest people living in the area through self-help initiatives, to enhance conservation through the increased participation of local people in management of wildlife resources, and to eliminate poaching. Simwinga is the former director of the North Luangwa Wildlife Conservation and Community Development programme, which helps restore wildlife, provide alternatives to poaching and improve the life of local villagers through micro-lending, education, health programs and women’s empowerment. He began working in the region with the U.S.-funded North Luangwa Conservation Project in 1994, when local economies relied heavily on income from poaching. He helped villagers form wildlife clubs that used small business loans to provide basic goods, services and legal jobs as alternatives to working for poachers. The program assisted subsistence farmers with seed loans, transportation and technical assistance to help them grow protein-rich crops with better yields so they did not have to depend on meat from wild animals.
Tsetsegee Munkhbayar: Environmental conservationist Tsetsegee Munkhbayar is leading the effort to protect Mongolia’s precious water resources from the dangers of unregulated mining. He co-founded the Onggi River Movement to protect and restore the Onggi River. His work has led to the formation of the Mongolian Nature Protection Coalition that has brought together 11 like-minded Mongolian river movements that have raised awareness of unregulated mining and river protection at both grassroots and legislative levels. Last year the Mongolian parliament passed legislation that will regulate mining and protect waterways. Munkhbayar holds seminars and workshops to educate herdsmen about their rights as citizens and about environmental issues. Prior to his work and outreach, few local people had been educated about environmental protection, and there were limited opportunities for people to participate in shaping government policy.
Zinhle Thabethe: Humanitarian and musician Zinny Thabethe is a front-line HIV/AIDS activist working to provide hope, counseling and medicine to South Africans afflicted with the disease. As one of the lead vocalists of South Africa’s internationally acclaimed Sinikithemba Choir, a 30-member HIV+ vocal ensemble, Thabethe offers inspiration, hope and persistent faith in the value of human life. The choir’s powerful blend of Zulu and gospel music puts a human face on an epidemic often surrounded by shame and stigma in South Africa. Thabethe is an eloquent advocate for HIV+ people, and is living proof that the fight against HIV/AIDS is far from lost. Her remarkable story was the inspiration for the film “iThemba: Hope,” a documentary about hope and resistance in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In addition to the hope she inspires as a musician, Thabethe works on the front lines through the iTeach organization, providing medicine and education to HIV patients and mentoring HIV counselors.
Sol Guy and Josh Thome: New media cultural storytellers Sol Guy and Josh Thome reach and inspire a new generation to engage in today’s most pressing issues through entertainment, online education and live events. Motivated by everyone from National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis to hip-hop artist Mos Def, Guy and Thome have committed themselves to a storytelling style designed to encourage young people to become more involved in the world around them. In their new television series “4REAL,” produced by their multimedia production company Direct Current media, the duo takes celebrity guests such as Cameron Diaz, Joaquin Phoenix and K’Naan on adventures to developing countries around the world to connect with extraordinary young leaders who, under extreme circumstances, are effecting real change in their communities. This entertaining series allows viewers to learn about some of the most pressing issues of our time and tune into some of the most inspiring attitudes and initiatives addressing them. Guy has 17 years’ experience in entertainment, media and the music industry and is considered one of Canada’s leading music executives in the country’s urban music sector. Thome has 18 years’ experience in social advocacy, educational programming, event coordination and media production.
Martin Wikelski: Zoologist and physiological ecologist Martin Wikelski is an associate professor at Princeton University’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, specializing in animal migration. He is leading the development of Move Bank, an unprecedented animal migration database that will facilitate the long-term comparison of previously discarded animal movement data with new findings to show how climate change, altered landscapes and other factors drive animal movement. This online database will span continents, species and decades of global research. It will consolidate old and new information, and give scientists the option of sharing data with a worldwide community of colleagues, students, educators and conservation managers. If everything works according to plan, the site will also put the latest online mapping, visualization and analysis tools at researchers’ fingertips, allowing them to interact with their data in real-time and make instant comparisons with legacy data from other studies. Theoreticians can mine animal movement and distribution data to test ideas related to ecological patterns, evolutionary processes and disease spread. Conservation managers can use Move Bank to show population changes over time and space, while educators can find a wealth of examples to illustrate biological principles and let students ask and answer their own questions about wild animals.
About National Geographic
The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 300 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; music; radio; films; books; DVDs; maps; school publishing programs; interactive media; and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more than 8,000 scientific research projects and supports an education program combating geographic illiteracy. For more information, visit nationalgeographic.com.
About PNY Technologies, Inc.
Established in 1985, PNY Technologies®, Inc. is a leading supplier and marketer of NVIDIA Quadro® by PNY Technologies professional graphics boards and XLR8™ and Verto-brand consumer graphics cards. The company also offers a full line of high-end memory upgrade modules, flash media, USB flash drives, portable hard drives and flash peripherals. Headquartered in Parsippany, N.J., PNY maintains facilities in North America (Santa Clara and Orange County, Calif., Miami, Fla. and Parsippany, N.J.), Europe (Benelux, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, United Kingdom,) and Asia (Taiwan and China). For more information, please visit http://www.pny.com.
NOTE: Images of the 2008 National Geographic Emerging Explorers are available from Adrian Coakley at (202) 857-7760 or firstname.lastname@example.org.