Nat Geo Announces 2014 Emerging Explorers

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Yesterday, National Geographic announced its 2014 class of Emerging Explorers, a distinction it awards to researchers, scientists, adventurers, and conservationists who have contributed significant advances to their particular field of study, while in the early stages of their careers. As usual, the men and women who make up this year’s group of Emerging Explorers are smart, highly ambitious, and very passionate about their work.

In all, there are 14 people on this year’s list, each working in a unique and important field. For instance, Christopher Golden is researching the effects of changes to the Earth’s environment have on human health, while Shabana Basi-Rasikh has founded a nonprofit designed to help young people in Afghanistan – particularly women – seek education abroad. Xiaolin Zheng is a nanoscientist who helped invent a new kind of solar cell that is efficient and inexpensive and Juliana Machado Ferreira is a conservation biologist fighting illegal wildlife trafficking in Brazil.

This is just a sample of some of the impressive young men and women who have earned a spot on the Nat Geo list of Emerging Explorers this year. Other members of this class are focusing their attention on saving Kenya’s rapidly depleting lion population, creating clean and inexpensive energy for cooking to Africa, and creating the next generation of robots. As you can see, their areas of expertise vary greatly, but each is doing important work.

Perhaps the most impressive person on the list is Jack Andraka, an inventor who just might be reshaping the way we think about medical care. Jack has invented a cheap, accurate, and simple test that can detect pancreatic, lung, and ovarian cancer in its early stages, possibly saving millions of lives. He holds the patent on this test, and hopes to bring it to market in the next decade, and he even believes the same test could be applied to other diseases as well. What makes Jack stand out from an already impressive crowd? This young man is just 17 years old, and is the youngest person to ever be given the distinction of being named an Emerging Explorer.

Along with the honor of being in an Emerging Explorer class, Nat Geo also awards the recipients with a $10,000 grant to help further their research.

To learn more about these remarkable men and women, check out their profiles on the Emerging Explorers webpage.

Kraig Becker