National Geographic Foundation for Science and Exploration – Asia
National Geographic Supports Local Explorers in Asia
The National Geographic Society established the National Geographic Foundation for Science and Exploration-Asia (NGS-Asia) to increase our ability to support scientists, conservationists, educators, storytellers, and technologists in Asia. From 2020, NGS-Asia pilots National Geographic Education initiatives in Asia through youth grants, leaderships programs, and convenings to support next generation who can change the world for the better. We use one application form for all grant types and regions. Please read more about grant application requirements, eligibility, and program priorities before applying.
Since 2015, NGS-Asia has supported more than 175 Explorers who are either citizens or residents of Asia, contributing to the total number of Explorers in Asia funded by the National Geographic Society since 1888. We support and highlight our Explorers through various National Geographic events and media outlets. Please find more National Geographic Explorers in Asia here.
Nareerat Boonchai is a paleobotanist, docent, and research coordinator. She studies fossils of flowering trees, especially petrified wood, and their implications on the past environments and climate. She attended graduate school on environmental biology in Thailand and paleontology in China. Her dissertation was completed at the Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, focusing on southwestern Wyoming petrified woods from 50 million years ago. Boonchai has worked at a paleontological museum in Thailand for more than ten years. She conducts scientific outreach through designing museum exhibits, conservation programs, and educational events. Her current work includes identification and conservation of approximately 180,000-year-old fossil tree trunks in Tak’s petrified forest in northern Thailand, as well as helping local communities and related organizations establish geoparks within UNESCO’s Global Geoparks Network. Boonchai received a postdoctoral fellowship from the French embassy in Bangkok to study petrified trees and learn different fossil wood preparation techniques at University of Lyon and the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. Boonchai leads national and international research projects on petrified wood, collaborating on a multidisciplinary team, to promote conservation and education in Southeast Asia and other countries.Back
Naomi Clark-Shen was born and raised in Singapore and considers Asia her home. Tired of being restricted to full-time employment representing one company, she set herself up as a freelancer. In Singapore, she runs her own shark and ray fishery research project, funded in part by the National Geographic Society; writes for a children’s wildlife magazine for the World Wildlife Fund; and takes on various other research projects, including for TRAFFIC and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. Outside of work, Naomi is a vegetarian and advocates for animal welfare, lives as eco-friendly as possible, trains and performs in wrestling (WWE-style), and enjoys free diving.Back
Hannah Reyes Morales
Tam Thi Ton
Intan Suci S. Nurhati
Saving the Reef Fish of the Philippines
Erina Molina is currently completing her master’s degree in environmental science at the University of the Philippines Diliman. As a National Geographic Young Explorer, she interviewed different generations of fishers in the northern Philippines to see whether expectations about reef fish populations have changed over time, leading younger people not to recognize long-term declines for vulnerable species. She now plans to convert this local knowledge into hard data to help in the management of fisheries.
Archaeological Study of the Neolithic Cultural Site on Jeju Island
Chang-Hwa Kang has been involved with archaeological research on Jeju Island in South Korea for over two decades. Now he’s teamed up with a multidisciplinary team led by Gyoung-Ah Lee of Oregon for a closer investigation of Jeju’s Neolithic culture. Where did it come from? How connected was it to other East Asian cultures? And how did volcanic eruptions and a shifting climate shape people’s adaptation to life on this fascinating island between the Korean Peninsula and Japan’s Kyushu Islands?
Saving and Studying the Archaeological Site of Cheung Ek
The intricate stonework of the Angkor Empire (in what is now Cambodia) is well known, but what about the empire’s less famous stoneware? Kaseka Phon is working to reveal the secrets of this specialized craft industry and protect the only known southern kiln site from being lost to urban sprawl. As director of the archaeology department and a Ph.D. candidate at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, he has researched kilns for over a decade. Now he’s building capacity for the future, training the next generation of Cambodian archaeologists.
Ocean Ninjas: Employing Seabirds to Gather Air and Water Data
Katsufumi Sato realizes sometimes the best person for the job is a bird. Seeking more detailed samplings of air and water conditions surrounding Japan and South Korea than a satellite or a buoy can give, he’s turned to his feathered friends for help. A behavioral ecologist and professor at University of Tokyo, Katsufumi attaches sensors to seabirds to record temperature, current, and other data while they fly or float. It will all help improve the accuracy of computer models of the physical interaction between atmosphere and ocean.
Softly Bringing the Burmese Star Tortoise Into the Wild
Unlike her beloved tortoise pals, Kalyar Platt has never been slow to come out of her shell. Described as a “force of nature” and “the Indomitable Turtle Lady,” she has boldly made turtle and tortoise conservation a driving force in Myanmar (formerly Burma). Releasing captive-bred Burmese star tortoises into well protected nature reserves, she’s helping this stunningly beautiful species recover from over harvesting for food and the high-end pet trade.
Since 1888, National Geographic has awarded grants that have sent thousands of the world’s greatest explorers on groundbreaking journeys of discovery. The stories, insights, and imagery our explorers bring back from the field educate us, inspire us, and change the world.
National Geographic Fellows
Conservation for Critical Species (2018–2019)
For thousands of creatures living on Earth, time is running out. Although our planet’s wildlife and wild places are disappearing at an alarming rate, some of the most threatened species still receive little or no conservation funding. To help save wildlife and sound the alarm for lesser-known species at risk, the National Geographic Society and Zoological Society of London (ZSL) launched the National Geographic Photo Ark EDGE Fellowship, which leverages the power of the Photo Ark’s captivating portraits to bring attention to the global extinction crisis. Conservationists in the the 2018–2019 Asia Cohort work with Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species in Asia to help bring them back from the brink of extinction.
Ginelle Gacasan is a National Geographic Photo Ark EDGE Fellow focusing on the endangered green turtle. Ginelle currently works at Community Centred Conservation Philippines Inc., where she previously implemented a program to establish a dugong sanctuary through community participation. She recently started studying for an M.Sc. at the University of the Philippines. Ginelle’s project aims to document traditional ecological knowledge from the indigenous Calamian Tagbanwa tribe about the green turtle and its seagrass habitat, and to use this knowledge to make conservation recommendations.Back
Ha Hoang is a National Geographic Photo Ark EDGE Fellow focused on the endangered big-headed turtle. Ha studied for an M.Sc. in environmental management before joining the Asian Turtle Program in 2008, where he is currently the Vietnam turtle program coordinator. His ambition is to save all of Vietnam’s native tortoise and freshwater turtle species from the threat of extinction. Ha’s project aims to increase local conservation capacity in Vietnam, better understand the risks of disease transfer between released turtles and wild turtle populations as well as other threats to the species, and increase awareness of turtle conservation.Back
Jonathan Phu Jiun Lang
Jonathan Phu is a National Geographic Photo Ark EDGE Fellow focusing on the endangered green turtle. He is a conservation officer at the Marine Research Foundation in Malaysia and is currently studying for an M.Sc. in marine science at Universiti Malaysia Sabah. Jonathan’s project aims to provide an assessment on the population status of foraging sea turtles in Mantanani Island to Sabah Parks, a government organization responsible for establishing marine parks.Back
Hanh Ngo is a National Geographic Photo Ark EDGE Fellow. Hanh is currently a master’s student and research assistant in the Department of Genetics at Vietnam National University. She previously contributed to fieldwork for the Asian Turtle Program, including surveys on the Vietnamese pond turtle and the Yangtze giant softshell turtle. Hanh’s project aims to develop an advanced eDNA protocol to support survey efforts of the endangered Chinese crocodile lizard in northeastern Vietnam.Back
David Quimpo is a National Geographic Photo Ark EDGE Fellow focusing on the critically endangered Rufous-headed Hornbill. David has acted as a conservation specialist for the Haribon Foundation in the Philippines since 2012. In this role, he assists with policy writing at both the local and national level, and trains community-based forest protection teams. David’s project aims to use the rufous-headed hornbill as an umbrella and keystone species to sustainably protect and conserve the biodiversity of the Central Panay Mountains in Panay Island.Back
Technology and Innovation with a Purpose (2020–2021)
Our Labs fellows demonstrated the ability to transform and disrupt traditional conservation technology efforts. We drive innovation that helps protect the wonder of our world by bringing together individuals with diverse backgrounds to create cutting-edge solutions to some of the world's most critical problems.
Alok Bhardwaj is a National Geographic Fellow who conducts flood research in Asia. His main research interests include using remote sensing and deep learning techniques to study urban floods and rain-induced landslides and understanding the link between climate teleconnections and the occurrence of extreme rainfall events and resulting floods in Asia.
Bhardwaj studied civil engineering at Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, then received a masters of technology from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and a Ph.D from the National University of Singapore in 2018. Prior to joining IIT Roorkee as an assistant professor in the civil engineering department, Bhardwaj worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Earth Observatory of Singapore at Nanyang Technological University.Back
Matthias Hoffmann-Kuhnt has spent three decades studying bioacoustics and animal behavior around the world. He is currently researching dolphins and whales in hopes of one day cracking the code of their communication, perhaps allowing us to “talk” across species boundaries.
Hoffmann-Kuhnt is also working to identify and localize bird vocalizations via the use of automated acoustic recorders that collect soundscape data. Systems like these, already being tested in Singapore, will allow us to collect a location’s soundscape data and determine the presence of particular species, as well as the number of animals living in an area. This information is vital to evaluating the animals’ conservation status in places where they face habitat loss and degradation.
Hoffmann-Kuhnt is a senior research fellow at the Acoustic Research Laboratory at the National University of Singapore. He holds a Ph.D in behavioral biology from the Freie Universität of Berlin.Back
Narumasa Tsutsumida is a geographic information scientist who studies land cover classification and its uncertainties, and develops novel techniques for analyzing land cover. He has conducted case studies of urban expansion in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and Jakarta, forest biomass mapping in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, and plant functional type classifications in the forests of Japan. As a National Geographic Fellow, Tsutsumida incorporates human perception of nature into land cover maps and integrates satellite/aero and street-level sequential images to collect ground information for land cover mapping.
Tsutsumida is also a charter member of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation and is developing several open source algorithms to explore spatial heterogeneity in geographic phenomena. He received his Ph.D in global environmental studies at Kyoto University, where he conducted terrestrial environmental monitoring using remote sensing and GIS.Back
National Geographic Society has expanded its commitment to Asia with a philanthropic gift from C program to establish a non-profit foundation based in Seoul since 2015. We also seek generous contributions and donations to continuously support scientists and explorers in Asia. Please email email@example.com for more details.