National Geographic has revealed their selections for the 2011 Emerging Explorers program, which spotlights outstanding scientists and adventurers who are doing great things, even at the early stages of their career. The awards, which are given on a yearly basis, include a $10,000 grant to assist the recipients in furthering their work, which can be in any number of diverse fields.
There are 14 men and women who have earned the title of “Emerging Explorer” this year. They include environmental scientist Jennifer Burney, who is exploring the impact of food production and distribution on climate change and Jørn Hurum, a Norwegian paleontologist who is exploring fossils on the remote Svalbard archipelago in Norway. Entomologist Dino Martins earned a nod for his research on how environmental changes are effecting insects, which are in turn important for pollinating the plants that sustain life on our planet. Meanwhile, Tuy Sereivathana is working to protect slightly larger creatures in the form of Cambodia‘s endangered elephant population.
These are just four examples of the 2011 class of Emerging Explorers. There are ten others who are doing interesting and important work in their own fields of interest as well. National Geographic recognizes that they are all on the cutting edge of their professions, and that their work could have a lasting impact on their particular realms.
While winning this award is a great honor, it is by no means an indicator of future success. Still, past winners have gone on to make impressive strides in their areas of expertise and achieved great things along the way. These Emerging Explorers are working hard to not only unravel the mysteries of our planet, but the entire universe as well. Pretty heady stuff from a group of young people.