Martin Wikelski is Director at the Max-Planck-Institute for Ornithology based in Radolfzell, Germany, and Professor for Ornithology at the University of Konstanz. He is also visiting research scholar at Princeton University, research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and Explorer at the National Geographic Society. Wikelski is the chairperson for the International Max Planck Research School on Organismal Biology at the University of Konstanz.

After receiving his Ph.D. at Bielefeld University, Wikelski was postdoc at the University of Washington in Seattle and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. Wikelski was assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, from 1998-2000 and then assistant and associate professor at Princeton University from 2000-2008. He is currently investigating global migratory pattern in animals with particular emphasis on disease spread and zoonoses. In this capacity Wikelski heads the migration ecology group within the FAO Scientific Task Force on Wildlife and Ecosystem Health. He is leading the ICARUS initiative, aiming at measuring the ‘Pulse of the Living Planet’ by installing an experimental small-object tracking system at the International Space Station. He has authored more than 150 publications.


About the Global Exploration Fund

The National Geographic Society has funded the work of curious and inquiring men and women in every corner of the Earth—filling gaps in human knowledge, sometimes in spectacular ways. Since 1888, National Geographic has awarded more than 10,000 grants representing a combined value of $153 million. Scientific field research, exploration, conservation, and adventure are the backbone of National Geographic’s grants, which have led to countless discoveries that continue to shed light on the planet’s rich variety and diversity—and help to preserve it. The results from fieldwork are shared with audiences around the world through an array of National Geographic media, including print, broadcast, and online outlets, as well as events, exhibitions, and educational platforms.

The Global Exploration Fund is a global initiative modeled on National Geographic’s century-long approach to funding research, conservation, and exploration projects through targeted grant programs. Supported through funding partnerships, National Geographic plans to launch regional Global Exploration Funds around the world. Each fund will rely upon an intensive peer-review process to evaluate projects seeking funding and an advisory board of scientific and innovation experts to help guide the program to achieve regional priorities. The grantees and outcomes supported by the fund will benefit from National Geographic media and outreach.

National Geographic launched the Global Exploration Fund in 2011 in Sweden to extend support to scientists, conservationists, and explorers from the Northern Europe region who are advancing research and exploring solutions for the benefit of the planet. In 2012, the Global Exploration Fund expanded to China with a dedicated Air and Water Conservation Fund designed to focus China’s most creative scientific and conservation talent on solving problems confronting the country’s air and water resources.

Photos From the Field

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    Love Bugs

    A Closer Look Into the Love Lives of Insects

  • Photo: Stonehenge

    Exploring Lost Places

    National Geographic is committedas we have been for more than a centuryto supporting new archaeology projects around the world.

Meet the Explorers

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    Explorers A-Z

    At the heart of our explorers program is the quest for knowledge through exploration and the people who make it possible.

  • Photo: Michael Lombardi diving

    Explorers by Category

    Browse our different areas of exploration and discover the fascinating people behind the projects.

Our Explorers in Action