ExplorersProjects

Kenny Broad

Photo: Kenny Broad

Dr. Kenny Broad received his Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University in 1999 and is an associate professor in the Division of Marine Affairs and Policy and the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. He holds a joint appointment at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, is a co-director of the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions based at Columbia University, a member of the NOAA Science Advisory Board (Climate and Global Change Working Group), and is the Associate Editor of the American Meteorological Society’s Climate, Weather and Society Journal. Working in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, Broad studies climate impacts and human perception, the use and misuse of scientific information, decision making under uncertainty, ecosystem based management and issues of societal equity. For the past five years, Broad has been conducting research in the Bahamas that addresses human-environment interaction and marine reserve network design. In addition to extensive cave exploration in the Bahamas, Broad has participated in and led scientific and film expeditions around the globe, including the exploration of one of the world's deepest caves in Mexico's Huautla Plateau. Broad was selected for the 2006 National Geographic Society Emerging Explorer award.

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Tom Iliffe

Photo: Tom Iliffe

Dr. Tom Iliffe is a Professor of Marine Biology who has been at Texas A&M University at Galveston (TAMUG) since 1989. Prior to that, he worked as a Research Associate at the Bermuda Biological Station for 11 years. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston (1977), an M.S. from Florida State University (1973) and a B.S. from Penn State University (1970). For the past 25 years, Tom has conducted studies of biodiversity, ecology, evolution and conservation of animals inhabiting saltwater caves. In addition to his extensive cave investigations in Bermuda, he has led biospeleological research expeditions to the Bahamas, Belize, Mexico, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Canary Islands, Iceland, Mallorca, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Galapagos, Hawaii, and numerous other locations in the Indo-Pacific. This research has resulted in the discovery of more than 300 new species of marine animals, mostly crustaceans, inhabiting caves in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Indo-Pacific. His research has been funded by grants from NSF, NOAA and the National Geographic Society among others. Tom has published 172 papers on this work, including 15 invited book chapters. He was co-chairman of the International Biodiversity Observation Year project "Exploration and Conservation of Anchialine Faunas".

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Brian Kakuk

Photo: Brian Kakuk

Brian Kakuk is a former U.S. Navy Diver with 25 years of professional diving experience. His work has taken him beneath nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers and jumping from helicopters into 10 foot seas, to record penetrations of underwater cave systems around the world. His research diving work with various scientific institutions has revealed new species of cave adapted marine life, as well as the discovery of fossils that are now repainting the picture of the Bahamas past environment. His expertise in diving safety has been used widely in the feature film industry as a Diving Safety Officer and underwater stuntman. With more than 3000 exploration cave dives, Brian is considered one of the leading authorities on the underwater/underground environments of the Bahamas and is a veteran of multiple high profile underwater cave expeditions in the Bahamas, Mexico and the U.S.

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David Steadman

Photo: Dave Steadman

Dr. David W. Steadman is the Curator of Ornithology at the Florida Museum of Natural History. He came to the University of Florida in 1995, after being Curator of Vertebrates at the New York State Museum for 10 years. He has a B.S. in Biology (Edinboro State College, 1973), M.S. in Zoology (University of Florida, 1975), and a Ph.D. in Geosciences (University of Arizona, 1982). Dave’s primary research interests are in the evolution, biogeography, paleontology, and conservation biology of tropical and subtropical birds. His studies have taken him to more than 40 countries, including 150 islands in the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Dave is the author of more than 180 scientific publications, including the recently released Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds, published by University of Chicago Press. His current research includes projects in the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos Islands, Virgin Islands, Trinidad, and Tobago.


Keith Tinker

Photo: Keith Tinker

Dr. Keith L. Tinker has served as Director of the National Museum of the Bahamas, The Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corporation, the principal heritage and conservation agency in The Commonwealth of the Bahamas, since it’s inception in 1999. He is the Executive Secretary and board member of the Clifton Heritage Authority, and partners with many local and international affiliates in the areas of preservation, conservation, history, archaeology, scientific research, and cultural heritage. Keith Tinker earned his B.Ed. from the West Indies College 1977, B.A. in History (Palm Beach Atlantic University, 1979), M.A. in History (Florida Atlantic University, 1982), and a Ph.D in History and Historical Administration (Florida State University, 1998). In addition to his responsibilities as Director of the Corporation, he is a historian and educator, he lectures at The College of the Bahamas, and has written and presented numerous research papers on a variety of topics. He is keenly interested in the history of the Caribbean and the Bahamas in particular; the protection of underwater cultural heritage and underwater archaeology in the Bahamas; perspectives on Bahamian architectural significance in preservation; cultural heritage and the part that the Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corporation plays in scientific research in the Bahamas.


Nancy Albury

Photo: Nancy Albury

Nancy Albury lives on Abaco Island and is the branch manager and curator of Paleontology for the National Museum of The Bahamas. She has been the coordinator of the Sawmill Sink Fossil Project since its inception in 2005 when she organized scientists, divers, the Bahamian government, and local NGOs as partners in the study of Bahamian fossils and the associated blue hole and cave environments. Albury studied technical illustrating at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, received a B.F.A. in Graphic Design (Jacksonville University), and a M.S. in Geosciences (Mississippi State University). A passionate dry caver since childhood, Nancy began cave diving in 1974. She assists in underwater and dry cave exploration and excavations, and conducts research in Bahamian paleontology and taphonomic processes that are responsible for the exceptional fossil preservation in blue holes. Ultimately her goals are to establish governmental conservation priorities for blue holes and caves and increase public awareness of these fragile ecosystems.

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Wes Skiles

Photo: Wes Skiles

Wes Skiles was the creator, director and cinematographer of the PBS series, “Water's Journey." He is best known for his stunning camera work in documentary, IMAX and feature films. Over a period of 15 years he made over two-dozen adventure science, exploration films for the major networks. He was also a long time contract photographer for National Geographic magazine. Wes’s work as a cinematographer and director has won a multitude of awards. In 2006 he and his company, Karst Productions, Inc., received the 2 HD Fest “Deffie’s”, for best HD documentary and best cinematography in an HD documentary for Water’s Journey, Hidden Rivers of Florida. In addition to his prominence as a leading cave explorer, he left an unmatched legacy as a pioneer and expert in the utilization of the high definition format in television and feature films.

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Jennifer Macalady

Photo: Jennifer Macalady

Dr. Macalady is a geomicrobiologist who received her Ph.D. from University of California, Davis in 2000 and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the Pennsylvania State University. She is a Co-PI in the Penn State Astrobiology Research Center, a node of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. Macalady and her group have carried out numerous research expeditions to sulfide-rich caves in Italy and Mexico since 2003.

Her current work focuses on the microbial ecology and biogeochemistry of sulfidic and anoxic environments including caves, sinkholes, and stratified lakes. These environments are often dominated by microbial primary productivity, and serve as modern analogs for microbial ecosystems that may have existed before and during the initial rise of oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere approximately 2.7 billion years ago. Working in the United States, Europe, and Mexico, Macalady studies microbial diversity and metabolism using a diverse arsenal of techniques including geochemistry, molecular biology, metagenomics, isotopic analyses, and microsensors. She is a collaborator on a National Geographic grant to study a novel animal-chemoautotroph symbiosis from the Frasassi cave system in Italy.


Peter Swart

Photo: Peter Swart

Dr. Peter Swart received his Ph.D. from the University of London in 1980 and is currently a professor in the Division of Marine Geology and Geophysics at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. He also serves as Chairman. Dr. Swart’s research over the past 25 years has concentrated on using the stable isotopes of carbon and oxygen to understand the history of climate. In particular his research examines these isotopes in proxies such as Speleothems, corals, and other sedimentary records. Dr. Swart’s research has been funded by numerous agencies including NSF, EPA, ACS, NOAA as well industry. Over 20 students have obtained their graduate degrees under Dr. Swart’s guidance and his research has resulted in approximately 150 papers in peer-reviewed journals.

Explorers Journal

Listen: Explorer Interviews

Listen to Nat Geo Explorer Interviews

Fascinating Conversations From Our Weekly Radio Show—Nat Geo Weekend

  • 00:11:00 Bob Ballard

    Boyd heads out of the studio to join National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Bob Ballard aboard his vessel the E/V Nautilus. Currently in Turkey, Ballard tells Boyd about the many shipwrecks he is finding in the Mediterranean. You can follow Ballard and his team, live as they explore the ocean at www.nautiluslive.org.

  • 00:06:00 Valerie Clark

    National Geographic grantee Valerie Clark licks frogs for a living. As Clark tells Boyd, she’s not looking for Prince Charming. Instead, she is studying how the diet of frogs in Madagascar relates to the toxicity of their skin.

    • 00:11:00 Lee Berger Audio

      National Geographic grantee and paleoanthropologist Lee Berger has been searching for the fossils of human ancestors, but it was his 9-year-old son who stumbled upon the find of a lifetime: a partial skeleton that may very well change our understanding of the genus Homo.

    • 00:07:59 Brad Norman

      Some go swimming with dolphins or stingrays, Brad Norman, National Geographic Emerging Explorer and marine conservationist, talks about swimming with the largest fish in the world: the whale shark. Norman speaks with Boyd about his research concerning whale shark habitats, tracking and conservation.

    • 00:11:00 Losang Rabgey

      National Geographic Emerging Explorer Losang Rabgey has found her life's work in strengthening rural communities on the Tibetan plateau, which includes building schools to educate local students. Rabgey joins Boyd with updates on the successful work of Machik, the non-profit she founded and now directs.

    • National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert capture astounding images of African wildlife in their beautiful films. The Jouberts live in the African bush alongside the lions and other animals they profile. They explain to Boyd that, because big cats are in such danger, their work is now focused on conservation projects such as the Cause an Uproar program.

    • 00:11:00 Nathan Wolfe

      National Geographic Emerging Explorer and virus hunter Nathan Wolfe says there is a disease pandemic lurking just around the corner. But, we can prepare ourselves.  Wolfe says there are even ways to harness and use the power of viruses. Wolfe joins Boyd to talk about his new book, The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age, which is changing the way we think about viruses.

      • National Geographic Emerging Explorer Joshua Ponte was a successful young English entrepreneur when, over breakfast one morning, his eye fell on a newspaper ad that said "Gorilla Reintroduction Program, Gabon." His life has never been the same since. Pursuing his passion for conservation, Ponte moved to a central African forest where 13 orphaned gorillas were being studied. Boyd talks with Ponte about the joys and dangers of raising young gorillas.

      • 00:11:00 Wade Davis

        How did the death and destruction of World War One lead young British climbers to attempt an epic conquest of Mount Everest? National Geographic Explorer in Residence Wade Davis answers that question in his new book “Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest.” Davis joins Boyd in the studio to chat about the book.

      • 00:11:00 Sylvia Earle

        National Geographic Explorer in Residence Sylvia Earle has been deeper undersea than any other woman. Earle is an oceanographer, explorer, author, lecturer, field scientist, and an inspiration to women around the world. She recently received the Royal Geographic Society’s 2011 Patron’s Medal. Boyd talks to Earle about some of her early dives in the Jim Suit.

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      • 00:08:00 Bruce Bachand

        Many people picture archaeology as the swashbuckling adventure portrayed in the Indiana Jones trilogy. But in reality, it can be much more tedious than discovering the Holy Grail and fighting Nazis. National Geographic grantee Bruce Bachand has been meticulously sewing a 3,000 bead necklace back together in Mexico after discovering a pre-Olmec burial site that housed a tribal chief and his wife, undisturbed for several centuries.

      • 00:09:00 Catherine Jaffee

        Turkey is famed for its honey, which is music to Boyd's ears—he has a notorious sweet tooth. He visited National Geographic grantee Cat Jaffee, a beekeeper who left her job in Washington, D.C. to make honey in rural Turkey. She says that bees harvest pollen from their surroundings: the best honey comes from bees with natural surroundings, large meadows, rather than urban environments. Most people, Jaffee says, eat honey that is basically a synthetic mix of sugars from all over the world.

      • Most of human history existed before the advent of GPS technologies that can pinpoint where we are at any time. National Geographic Fellow and ethnonavigation expert, Elizabeth Lindsey has taken it upon herself to understand what it was like for Polynesian explorers to colonize tiny, remote islands across the south Pacific Ocean. To better appreciate the skills it takes to study the clouds and winds in search of land, Lindsey plans to join a team of Polynesian women who are island-hopping using traditional methods: no GPS, no cellphones and no compass.

      • 00:11:00 Lucy Cooke

        Lucy Cooke