Explorers and Grants

Since 1888, the National Geographic Society has supported exploration and discovery, bringing such wonders as the ruins of Machu Picchu, previously unknown human ancestors, and mysterious ocean phenomena to light.

Our field-based research, conservation, exploration, and public experience programs continue to provide the world with scientific breakthroughs and discoveries that inspire people everywhere to care about our planet.

Today, a new generation of National Geographic explorers is carrying on the tradition and blazing trails in thought and action. Apply for a grant for your own research, and get to know some of our most dynamic explorers.

Our Explorers

Every year we name a new class of emerging explorers, highlighting people early in their careers making a difference and pushing the boundaries of knowledge and exploration. We are also the home of several explorers-in-residence, leaders in their fields with a legacy of tireless work and extraordinary impact.

  • 2016 Emerging Explorers

    2016 Emerging Explorers

    The latest additions to the National Geographic family are using innovative technology and novel perspectives to explore the world in fascinating new ways.

  • Previous Years

    Previous Years

    The first emerging explorers were named in 2004, and since then more than a hundred researchers and adventurers have been awarded the title. Meet them all.

  • Explorers-in-Residence


    Lee Berger's discovery of Homo naledi is the latest in a long chain of breakthroughs made by this esteemed group of researchers, adventurers, and conservationists.

Apply for a Grant

Wherever you come from, wherever you are in the world, and whatever your topic of research, the National Geographic Society is interested in helping you to increase human understanding of the world and all that's in it.


  • Hypothesis-Driven Grants

    Hypothesis-Driven Grants

    The Committee for Research and Exploration provides research grants focused on cultivating scientists, explorers, and conservationists.

  • The Next Generation

    The Next Generation

    The Young Explorers Grants Program awards grants to scientists and explorers between the ages of 18 and 25.


  • Applied Conservation

    Applied Conservation

    The Conservation Trust supports projects of global importance, emphasizing practical conservation solutions.

  • Saving Big Cats

    Saving Big Cats

    The Big Cats Initiative brings several National Geographic divisions together in the fight to save lions, leopards, cheetahs, and other big cats.

  • Energy Solutions

    Energy Solutions

    The Great Energy Challenge supports entrepreneurs working toward global energy solutions as a response to energy resource constraints, environmental limitations, and climate change.


  • Media-Driven Storytelling

    Media-Driven Storytelling

    The Expeditions Council funds exploration of little-known areas of the world, as well as regions undergoing significant environmental or cultural change.

  • Exploratory Fieldwork

    Exploratory Fieldwork

    National Geographic/Waitt Grants provide funding for exploratory fieldwork that holds promise for breakthroughs in the natural and social sciences.

  • Revitalization Projects

    Revitalization Projects

    The Genographic Legacy Fund aids indigenous and traditional peoples by supporting revitalization projects that raise global awareness about cultural loss.

Location-Based Grants

  • Grants in Northern Europe

    Grants in Northern Europe

    The Global Exploration Fund provides local support for European researchers, conservationists, and explorers doing work anywhere in the world.

  • Conservation in China

    Conservation in China

    The Air and Water Conservation Fund supports innovative solutions to water and air quality issues in China.

  • Grants in Asia

    Grants in Asia

    The National Geographic Foundation for Science and Exploration-Asia supports local scientists, conservationists, and explorers from Asia doing work anywhere in the world.

Latest Discoveries

  • Lost City Found in Honduras

    Lost City Found in Honduras

    In the search for the legendary City of the Monkey God, explorers find the untouched ruins of a vanished culture.

  • Strange New Ancestor

    Strange New Ancestor

    The Homo naledi fossils are not only remarkable for their shape and sheer number but also unforgettable for the mystery of how they came to be in that cave.