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As part of a robust effort to improve our understanding and resilience to the impacts of climate change on mountain systems, from April to June 2019, National Geographic and Tribhuvan University conducted the most comprehensive single scientific expedition to Mount Everest (known locally as Sagarmatha or Chomolungma) in history. The expedition, conducted in partnership with Rolex was the first of a series of Perpetual Planet Expeditions.


THE EXPEDITION

The Everest expedition team aims to better understand the effects of climate change on the glaciers of the Hindu Kush-Himalaya that provide critical water resources to 1 billion people downstream. This information, coupled with additional data sets on water supply and demand in the region, forms the basis of a new index to track the health of the Himalayan water system.

OUR HISTORY ON EVEREST

National Geographic has a long history of working with Nepal and on Mount Everest, sharing the beauty and enigma of the mountain with the world. Explore some of our biggest moments on the mountain.
  • 1948

    National Geographic has awarded 174 grants for projects on Mount Everest and the Himalaya, beginning with our first grant for work in Nepal in 1948. Grantees have conducted research on glaciers and geology of the region, plate tectonics, and high altitude adaptation of living things.

    1963

    National Geographic sponsored the first American team in its bid to reach the top of Mount Everest. Along the way, the climbing team completed experiments on glaciology, solar radiation, and the effects of altitude on health.

    1965

    National Geographic’s first television broadcast featured the first footage shot from the Everest summit. The special, “Americans on Everest,” narrated by Orson Welles, reached an audience of 26 million viewers, increasing the mountain’s internationally renowned status.

  • 1984

    National Geographic funded a project to carry out high-precision mapping photography of Mt. Everest and the Khumbu/Rongbuk surrounding area. This work made possible topographic and geologic work in the area on a scale never before attainable.

    2012

    With funding from National Geographic and The North Face, renowned mountaineer Conrad Anker led the 2012 Legacy Climb up Everest commemorating the first American team’s summit 50 years before. Part of the team’s mission was to study performance limits at high elevation.

    2016

    Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita of Nepal was recognized as one of National Geographic’s 2016 Adventurers of the Year. As one of the first students at the Khumbu Climbing Center, she became Nepal’s first woman mountaineering instructor.

  • 1948

    National Geographic has awarded 174 grants for projects on Mount Everest and the Himalaya, beginning with our first grant for work in Nepal in 1948. Grantees have conducted research on glaciers and geology of the region, plate tectonics, and high altitude adaptation of living things.

  • 1963

    National Geographic sponsored the first American team in its bid to reach the top of Mount Everest. Along the way, the climbing team completed experiments on glaciology, solar radiation, and the effects of altitude on health.

  • 1965

    National Geographic’s first television broadcast featured the first footage shot from the Everest summit. The special, “Americans on Everest,” narrated by Orson Welles, reached an audience of 26 million viewers, increasing the mountain’s internationally renowned status.

  • 1984

    National Geographic funded a project to carry out high-precision mapping photography of Mt. Everest and the Khumbu/Rongbuk surrounding area. This work made possible topographic and geologic work in the area on a scale never before attainable.

  • 2012

    With funding from National Geographic and The North Face, renowned mountaineer Conrad Anker led the 2012 Legacy Climb up Everest commemorating the first American team’s summit 50 years before. Part of the team’s mission was to study performance limits at high elevation.

  • 2016

    Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita of Nepal was recognized as one of National Geographic’s 2016 Adventurers of the Year. As one of the first students at the Khumbu Climbing Center, she became Nepal’s first woman mountaineering instructor.





MEET THE TEAM



 


Expedition Team

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Ananta P. Gajurel
Nepal Scientific Lead, Tribhuvan University
Ananta P. Gajurel
 Nepal Scientific Lead, Tribhuvan University
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Ananta Gajurel heads the Department of Geology at the Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus of Tribhuvan University, Nepal, where he has been a faculty member for more than 26 years. Gajurel has extensive experience in geological field mapping in the high mountain range and foothills of the Himalaya. He received a master of science degree in geology from Tribhuvan University and a second master’s degree and Ph.D. in dynamics of the lithosphere from Joseph Fourier University in France. He then completed a postdoc at Cornell University in the United States and has gone on to publish numerous scientific publications and become a leading geologist in Nepal.

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Paul Mayewski
Scientific and Expedition Lead, University of Maine
Paul Mayewski
 Scientific and Expedition Lead, University of Maine
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Paul Mayewski is an internationally acclaimed glaciologist, climate scientist, and polar explorer, and is director and a professor in the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute. He has led over 55 expeditions to Antarctica, Greenland, the Himalaya, the Andes, and the sub-Antarctic Islands. Mayewski has also made numerous first ascents in the Transantarctic Mountains and has traversed more than 25,000 kilometers over Antarctica. Mayewski’s many scientific achievements include documenting naturally and human-produced changes in atmospheric chemistry and discovering the behavior of abrupt climate change events in the atmosphere. He has also won numerous honors, including the first internationally awarded Medal for Excellence in Antarctic Research and the Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Award.

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Sandra Elvin
Director of Expeditions, National Geographic
Sandra Elvin
 Director of Expeditions, National Geographic
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Sandra Elvin is director of expeditions for the National Geographic Society’s Life at the Extremes impact initiative. A wildlife biologist, she focuses on environmental sustainability and conservation, and has guided trips all over the world. Elvin earned her master's degree in marine management at Dalhousie University in Canada where she developed strategies to address collisions between right whales and commercial vessels navigating through the whales' feeding grounds and migration paths. Elvin completed her doctoral degree in environmental studies at York University in Canada where she examined mitigation projects used to address the adverse effects of industrial development on black bears. As an expedition leader, she has been a professional guide on polar bear and beluga whale trips in Canada, giant panda and Asiatic black bear trips in China, and snow leopard expeditions in Mongolia. She has also worked for various organizations in Canada, the United States, Kenya, and the Philippines. Over the years in her work, she has witnessed the effects of climate change firsthand and is deeply committed to working on related issues.  

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Jiban Ghimire
Shangri-La Nepal Trek Company
Jiban Ghimire
 Shangri-La Nepal Trek Company
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Jiban Ghimire is a managing director at Shangri-La Nepal Trek P. Ltd. with 26 years of experience in the outfitting industry. He believes exceptional customer service is the most important asset the company can have and has cultivated long-term relationships with those in the mountaineering community. Known to many mountaineers as the “Man in Nepal,” Ghimire has been named the “Fixer’s Fixer” by Outside magazine.

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Pete Athans
Climbing Lead, Basecamp Co-manager
Pete Athans
 Climbing Lead, Basecamp Co-manager
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Climber, explorer, and filmmaker Peter Athans has attained the summit of Mount Everest seven times, a record in 2002. In the past two decades he has participated in 15 expeditions up both the Nepalese and Tibetan sides of the mountain. In 1996, Athans led the rescue of Dr. Beck Weathers and Taiwanese expedition leader Makalu Gau on the mountain, which won him the American Alpine Club’s David A. Sowles Memorial Award and was documented in Jon Krakauer’s best-selling book Into Thin Air. In addition to Everest, Athans has climbed on all seven continents and is a high-altitude filmmaker. His work has been featured in productions for National Geographic television and film, PBSNova, ABC Sports, and NBC Sports. Further, Athans led the “Sight to Summit” expedition where he and other The North Face athletes worked with the Himalayan Cataract Project to bring sight-restoring eye care to indigent Nepalese patients. He was recognized for his philanthropic work in Nepal with the The Explorers Club’s prestigious Tenzing Norgay Award in 2005.

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Panuru Sherpa
Expedition Team
Panuru Sherpa
 Expedition Team
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Panuru Sherpa is the co-founder and executive director of Xtreme Climbers Treks and Expedition Pvt. Ltd. He has 30 years of climbing experience resulting in 15 Everest summits (8,848 m), 16 on Cho Oyu (8,188 m), four on Shishapangma (8,027 m), one on Manaslu (8,163 m), one on Makalu (8,485 m), five on Ama Dablam (6,812 m), and many more. Along with his younger brother Mingma Chhring and friend Karma Rita, Sherpa became the first Nepalese to summit Gurla Mandhata (7,694 m) in Tibet in 2007. He has also been a volunteer climbing ranger on Mount Denali in Alaska which he has summited three times. He lives in the village of Phortse, Nepal, and serves as chairman and instructor at the Khumbu Climbing Center.  Sherpa’s company successfully organized the first Ski Lhotse Descent Expedition in 2018 with The North Face brand ambassadors Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison. 

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Tyler Dinley
Producer, National Geographic
Tyler Dinley
 Producer, National Geographic
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Tyler Dinley is a filmmaker, designer, and producer with a strong background in brand strategy and storytelling. Prior to his current role as a producer for the National Geographic Society's Impact Media team, Dinley worked as a senior creative for RED Digital Cinema in its Brand Creative and Strategy divisions, as well as a director and producer for its award-winning RED Collective video profile series.

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Alexander Tait
Mapping Team Lead, National Geographic
Alexander Tait
 Mapping Team Lead, National Geographic
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Alexander Tait holds the position of The Geographer at the National Geographic Society where he leads geographic information system and locational data collection mapping initiatives and resources for National Geographic Labs. He provides cartography mapping and geography expertise for the Science and Exploration, Education, and Explorers programs at the Society. Tait has extensive experience in mapping techniques integrating field survey, satellite imagery, and other data sources for projects around the world. Prior to National Geographic, he worked for 25 years in private enterprise as lead cartographer and technical consultant on projects for government and private industry clients, including the U.S. National Park Service, U.S. Census Bureau, Defenders of Wildlife, and many others. Tait has also worked as a cartographer at the Washington Post and a lecturer in geography at the University of Maryland. He holds a master’s degree in geography from the University of Wisconsin.

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Baker Perry
Meteorology Team Co-Lead, Appalachian State University
Baker Perry
 Meteorology Team Co-Lead, Appalachian State University
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L. Baker Perry is a professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. He holds a Ph.D. in geography with a focus on climatology from the University of North Carolina and his field-based research interests include alpine precipitation formation, snow and ice, and precipitation-glacier-climate interactions. Perry teaches courses on climate change, atmospheric circulation, snow and ice, mountain geography, and tropical Andean glacier-climate interactions. He has led or co-led 21 research expeditions in the tropical Andes and—along with local collaborators—has installed and maintained five meteorological stations above an elevation of 5,000 meters.

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Tom Matthews
Meteorology Team Co-Lead, Loughborough University
Tom Matthews
 Meteorology Team Co-Lead, Loughborough University
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National Geographic Explorer Tom Matthews is a climate scientist and lecturer at Loughborough University, United Kingdom, with an interest in glacier-climate interactions. Through a mixture of Arctic and alpine fieldwork and computer modelling, his research has focused on developing techniques that help project glacier mass balances in a changing climate. Matthews also researches extreme weather, from storms to heat waves, and is working on improving public communication of climate change.

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Tracie Seimon
Biology Team Co-Lead, Wildlife Conservation Society
Tracie Seimon
 Biology Team Co-Lead, Wildlife Conservation Society
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Tracie Seimon earned a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Colorado, Health Sciences Center, and is director of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, based at the Bronx Zoo, New York. At WCS, she directs the development and implementation of innovative field-based molecular diagnostic technologies to search for wildlife and endangered species using environmental DNA (eDNA) approaches, identify species in the wildlife trade, and diagnose infectious diseases in wildlife. She has also conducted molecular lab field deployments to monitor wildlife disease and develop molecular diagnostic capacity in places like the Russian Far East, Uganda, Rwanda, Peru, Myanmar, and Vietnam. An experienced mountaineer, Seimon also leads a long-term monitoring initiative focused in the high alpine regions of the Peruvian Andes to reveal how amphibians are adapting to climate change and infectious disease. She loves to photograph all life forms and natural phenomena, and travels with her family to tornado alley in the U.S. Great Plains every year to study and document severe storms.

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Suresh Ghimire
Biology Team Co-Lead, Tribhuvan University
Suresh Ghimire
 Biology Team Co-Lead, Tribhuvan University
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National Geographic Explorer Suresh Ghimire is an associate professor at Tribhuvan University in Nepal, and has 22 years of experience teaching and conducting research in biology. He obtained a doctorate degree in evolutionary biology and ecology from University Montpellier 2 in France. His research focuses on biodiversity conservation in the Himalaya integrating both science-based approaches and ethnoecological knowledge. He has studied plant diversity along spatial gradients, monitored plant population dynamics, developed sustainable harvesting guidelines for high-altitude medicinal plants, and performed ethnobotany and climate change research with scientists of international repute. Ghimire has been involved in long-term projects that monitor climate change impacts on alpine vegetation in Nepal and Bhutan in collaboration with scientists from the Missouri Botanical Garden, United States, and National Biodiversity Centre, Bhutan. Another recent research project of his focused on the ecology of high-value medicinal plants in Nepal. Ghimire is a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Medicinal Plant Specialist Group. He has published more than 60 scientific journal articles, edited books and conference proceedings, and authored four books and 30 research reports.

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Aaron Putnam
Geology Team Co-Lead, University of Maine
Aaron Putnam
 Geology Team Co-Lead, University of Maine
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An assistant professor at the University of Maine, Aaron Putnam studies the geologic record of Earth’s mountain glaciers and ice sheets to gain insights into the dynamics governing past global changes, such as ice ages and abrupt climate change. He is also interested in the climate drivers and feedback loops responsible for the industrial-age worldwide retreat of mountain glaciers and shifting global rain belts. Since participating in a scientific cruise to study the dynamics of Arctic sea ice in high school, Putnam has logged over 200 weeks conducting fieldwork in remote glacial environments, such as in Antarctica, the Southern Alps of New Zealand, the southern Andes, and the mountain chains of High Asia. His research focuses on charting the demise of Earth’s terrestrial ice masses during the termination of the last ice age, with an aim toward identifying the climatic mechanisms that drove massive changes in the global energy budget. An overall goal of his is to improve knowledge of climate dynamics and ice melt in a warming world.

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Mary Hubbard
Geology Team Co-Lead, Montana State University
Mary Hubbard
 Geology Team Co-Lead, Montana State University
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Mary Hubbard received her Ph.D. in geology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1988. Her thesis research centered on metamorphism and deformation in eastern Nepal. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at ETH Zurich, she held faculty positions at the University of Maine, Kansas State University, and Utah State University. In 2017, she had a Fulbright Specialist Fellowship at the Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus of Tribhuvan University in Nepal. Hubbard’s research focuses on mountain belt processes and has taken her to the Nepal Himalaya, Western Alps of Europe, Southern Alps of New Zealand, Pakistani Himalaya, Mauritanides of western Senegal, Steilrandberg of Namibia, Appalachians, and Rocky Mountains. She is currently a professor at Montana State University and is continuing her research on several aspects of mountain processes.

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Deepak Aryal
Meteorology Team, Tribhuvan University
Deepak Aryal
 Meteorology Team, Tribhuvan University
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Deepak Aryal is a recognized meteorologist, air pollution expert, and climate specialist. He received his master’s degree in atmospheric science from Nagoya University, Japan, and Ph.D. in meteorology from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He has been a professor at the Central Department of Hydrology and Meteorology at Tribhuvan University for 24 years, and head of the department for the past two years. Aryal has extensive experience conducting meteorology, air pollution, and aerosol field campaigns in Japan and Nepal, is well-known for using meteorological instruments and sampling equipment, and has experience using aircraft-based meteorological instrumentation. He is also president of the Society of Hydrologists and Meteorologists of Nepal and has recently been studying Nepal’s convective monsoon system.

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Bhuwan Awasthi
Geology Team, Tribhuvan University
Bhuwan Awasthi
 Geology Team, Tribhuvan University
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Raised in the rural hills of Darchula in far western Nepal, Bhuwan Awasthi is pursuing a master’s in engineering geology at the Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus of Tribhuvan University, Nepal, where he also completed his undergraduate degree in geology in 2016. In 2018, he went on a 13-day trek to Shey Phoksundo Lake in Dolpa, Nepal, at an elevation of 3,600 meters. He has also worked for three months as a volunteer intern at the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology, conducting water quality assessments and helping to implement a landslide-crack sealing program in Nepal’s Nuwakot and Dhading Districts. As a geologist, Awasthi is interested in clean energy and its potential to reduce pollution and mitigate the threats of climate change in Nepal.

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Kajol Basukala
Biology Team, Tribhuvan University
Kajol Basukala
 Biology Team, Tribhuvan University
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Originally from Bhaktapur, Nepal, Kajol Basukala has always had a love for flowers, which she continues to foster as a master's student in the Central Department of Botany at Tribhuvan University, Nepal. She received her bachelor’s degree in biology from the Bhaktapur Multiple Campus of Tribhuvan University in 2016. Basukala’s research specialty is identifying Nepal’s high-alpine plant species. She is currently working on a taxonomic review of sedges, or Cyperaceae, in Nepal and hopes to continue her studies toward a Ph.D.

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Roshan BC
Biology Team, Tribhuvan University
Roshan BC
 Biology Team, Tribhuvan University
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From Nepalgunj, a sub-metropolitan city in the Banke District of Nepal, Roshan BC is a master’s degree student in plant systematics at the Central Department of Botany at Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He is particularly interested in the diversity and distribution patterns of medicinal plants in different forest systems. BC received his bachelor’s degree in botany from Tribhuvan University’s Mahendra Multiple Campus, and has two years of experience teaching ninth- and 10th-grade science.

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Kenny Broad
Mapping Team, Virtual Wonders
Kenny Broad
 Mapping Team, Virtual Wonders
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National Geographic Explorer and environmental anthropologist Kenny Broad has participated in extreme scientific and filmmaking expeditions on every continent to gather information and samples that shed light on environmental and cultural subjects. Broad is a professor at the University of Miami, where he directs the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, and is co-director of the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions at Columbia University.  He regularly collaborates with ecologists, climatologists, and psychologists and has published dozens of scientific journal articles on topics ranging from risk perception to natural resource management. He was elected a 2009 Fellow National of the Explorers Club and received the 2011 National Geographic Explorer of the Year award.

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Heather Clifford
Glaciology Team, University of Maine
Heather Clifford
 Glaciology Team, University of Maine
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Heather Clifford grew up in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and has always had an affinity for the environment. She found her passion for research at Clemson University in South Carolina, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering in 2015. Clifford then received a master’s in climate studies at the University of Maine, with a concentration in ice cores and data analysis. For her master’s degree, she completed geochemical analyses using novel ultrahigh-resolution technology on the Colle Gnifetti ice core, collected from the Swiss Alps. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of Maine for which she is examining snow and ice samples from the Peruvian Andes, Swiss Alps, and Himalaya. She aims to help devise solutions to the planet’s major issues related to pollution and climate change.

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Ashish Dhami
Biology Team, Tribhuvan University
Ashish Dhami
 Biology Team, Tribhuvan University
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Ashish Dhami is a master’s student focused on plant systematics and biodiversity conservation at Tribhuvan University in Nepal. His master’s research focuses on Swertia multicaulis, a Himalayan endemic plant found above 3,900 meters. Because of this, Dhami has studied in many remote areas, particularly in the high-elevation ecosystems of Nepal such as the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area (up to 5,100 meters), Langtang National Park (up to 4,800 meters), and the Upper Mustang in the Annapurna Conservation Area (up to 5,000 meters). Dhami completed his bachelor’s degree in botany at Tribhuvan University.

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Samir Dhungel
Geology Team, Tribhuvan University
Samir Dhungel
 Geology Team, Tribhuvan University
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Samir Dhungel is pursuing a master’s in engineering geology at Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He most recently worked as an assistant researcher on landslide modelling and cosmogenic radionuclide dating in Nepal’s Sindhupalchowk District. Before that, he worked in disaster risk management as a geologist at Care Nepal from 2016 to 2017. His research interests include river morphology, landslide modelling, roadway stabilization, engineering geological mapping, and hydropower, among other topics. Currently, he is learning geodetic methods to trace out the slow-moving landslides in Sindhupalchowk District triggered by the devastating 2015 Gorkha earthquake. Dhungel is experienced at using AutoCAD, Agisoft PhotoScan, MATLAB, Geodesy, and photogrammetry tools.

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Anil Ghimire
Geology Team, Tribhuvan University
Anil Ghimire
 Geology Team, Tribhuvan University
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From Dhungkharka, Nepal, Anil Ghimire received his bachelor’s degree in geology in 2016 from the Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus of Tribhuvan University in Nepal. Ghimire is now a master’s student studying engineering geological mapping at Tribhuvan University. After graduation, he aims to become a certified geologist and a researcher.

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Bibek Giri
Geology Team, Montana State University
Bibek Giri
 Geology Team, Montana State University
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Geologist Bibek Giri is from a remote mountainous village within the Nuwakot District, which lies just north of Kathmandu, Nepal. After completing his undergraduate studies at Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus in Nepal, Giri received his master’s in geology at Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He ranked first in his class in each semester of his master’s program and received scholarships from the Nepal Geological Society and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. During his master’s program, he most enjoyed conducting fieldwork because it allowed him to travel to new places and meet new people. Giri is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Montana State University, working to examine a fault system in eastern Nepal. After he completes his studies, he plans to work in the field of Earth sciences as a professor or a governmental researcher, and seeks to contribute to the development of science and technology in his native country.

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Corey Jaskolski
Mapping Team, Virtual Wonders
Corey Jaskolski
 Mapping Team, Virtual Wonders
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Corey Jaskolski is an engineer specializing in creating technologies for some of the most challenging environments on Earth. A National Geographic Fellow and the chief technology officer at Virtual Wonders, he develops new imaging solutions to help National Geographic Explorers—and others—capture imagery that lets us all see the world in new ways. After earning degrees in physics, mathematics, electrical engineering, and computer science, Jaskolski joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as a staff researcher. While at MIT, he also led a team at Bluefin Robotics, developing the world's first pressure-tolerant lithium-polymer battery pack, used for ocean exploration. The technology was also used to explore the inside of the Titanic. Jaskolski then founded and ran Hydro Technologies, a company that engineered wireless sensors that help prevent subsea oil and gas leaks. He also served as National Geographic’s director of technology for remote imaging. Jaskolski's work as a National Geographic Fellow has ranged from building a system to take the world's highest-resolution underwater image to aerial 3D mapping the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Garamba National Park to aid in anti-poaching efforts.

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Arbindra Khadka
Meteorology Team, Tribhuvan University
Arbindra Khadka
 Meteorology Team, Tribhuvan University
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Arbindra Khadka is a master’s student in the Central Department of Hydrology and Meteorology at Tribhuvan University in Nepal. He is interested in Himalayan hydrology and meteorology, in particular with regard to changes in glaciers. Since 2017, Khadka has worked on a project studying the water resources and glacier hazards in the Himalayan cryosphere. He has also participated in fieldwork on Nepal’s Mera Glacier four times and its Changri Nup Glacier once with teams from the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, based in France, and Utrecht University, based in the Netherlands.

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Inka Koch
Glaciology Team, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
Inka Koch
 Glaciology Team, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
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Inka Koch is a glacier hydrologist in the Cryosphere Initiative at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Nepal. Her research in the Hindu Kush–Himalayan region focuses on snow impurities and snow as a water resource. She regularly coordinates high-altitude expeditions with local and international partners, mainly in Nepal and Bhutan, maintaining meteorological and river discharge stations during these high-altitude expeditions. Koch received her doctorate from the University of Otago in New Zealand where she investigated the formation and stability of an ice shelf in Antarctica. Prior to that, she worked on developing ice core proxies for past climates in the Arctic for her master’s research at the University of Alberta in Canada. Originally from Germany, Koch is curious to understand the processes driving cryospheric changes around the globe. This has led her to take up work and research opportunities in the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, New Zealand, Norway, Belgium, and now Nepal.

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Sanjeet Maka
Geology Team, Tribhuvan University
Sanjeet Maka
 Geology Team, Tribhuvan University
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Sanjeet Maka is pursuing a master’s degree in engineering geology at Tribhuvan University, Nepal, with research interests in river morphology, the design and construction of tunnels, roadway stabilization, engineering geological mapping, and hydropower technologies. He completed his bachelor’s in geology in 2015 at Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus of Tribhuvan University in Nepal, where he first discovered his interest in the design and construction of tunnels and geomorphology. Maka is skilled in tunnel face mapping and photogrammetry and in using AutoCAD, MATLAB, and Unwedge, and worked as a site geologist on the Lower Hewa Khola Hydropower Project from 2015 to 2017. Maka plans to work as a geologist focused on using hydropower technologies to help facilitate the use of clean energy in Nepal. 

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Laura Mattas
Geology Team, University of Maine
Laura Mattas
 Geology Team, University of Maine
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From Glenville, New York, Laura Mattas spent most of her childhood and young adult years exploring along the rapids of the Hudson River and the summits of the Adirondack High Peaks, where she developed an unyielding passion for adventure and understanding the landscape around her. Mattas pursued her bachelor’s degree at the University of Maine in Earth and climate sciences. During her undergraduate career, she was a field assistant in Antarctica and New Zealand, working on the timing of deglaciations. She then spent time in Iceland with researchers studying the geology and geomorphology of the region. These experiences inspired an interest in understanding glaciers and abrupt climate change. Mattas will begin a master’s program at the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute in the fall.

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Chris Millbern
Mapping Team, Virtual Wonders
Chris Millbern
 Mapping Team, Virtual Wonders
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Photographer and interdisciplinary scientist Chris Millbern is the director of field operations for Virtual Wonders. Providing key technical and field experience, he leads teams all over the globe creating ultrahigh-resolution scans of the world’s most remarkable and sacred places. These scans combine cutting-edge technology and ingenuity to make 3D models that support conservation and science. Selected as the 2016 North American Rolex Scholar for his achievements in hyperbaric medicine, Millbern has since joined numerous National Geographic expeditions, written for the National Geographic Explorers Journal and Diver Medic magazine, and worked on projects in 20 U.S. states and 19 countries across all seven continents. His work on topics ranging from crocodile parasitology to carbon monoxide interventions has been published in ecological and medical journals, while his photographs have been featured on National Geographic’s website and used internationally by government agencies, universities, nonprofits, and major corporations.

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Mariusz Potocki
Glaciology Team, University of Maine
Mariusz Potocki
 Glaciology Team, University of Maine
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Originally from Poland, Mariusz Potocki is a Ph.D. candidate in glaciology and climate science at the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute. His research involves using ice cores to understand past climate and atmospheric circulation. An accomplished mountaineer, Potocki has been a member of more than 20 expeditions to Antarctica, Kilimanjaro, and high-altitude regions in South America and Asia. Potocki has led expeditions in the Andes, South Georgia Island, and the Sahara and Gobi Deserts. After he finishes his Ph.D., he will become a postdoctoral fellow at the Climate Change Institute.

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Suman Poudel
Biology Team, Tribhuvan University
Suman Poudel
 Biology Team, Tribhuvan University
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Suman Poudel is pursuing a master’s in botany with a focus in plant systematics and conservation biology at Tribhuvan University in Nepal. He has been involved in many research projects related to plants and local economic development for indigenous groups since 2015. Poudel is also a nature guide at Nepal’s Chitwan National Park. He has participated in several expeditions at high altitude focused on studying plants and climate change, such as conducting long-term vegetation monitoring in collaboration with the Missouri Botanical Garden in the United States on the Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments project and others with colleagues at Tribhuvan University.

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Anton Seimon
Biology Team, Appalachian State University
Anton Seimon
 Biology Team, Appalachian State University
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A National Geographic Explorer, Anton Seimon leads research programs on a diverse range of themes in the Earth, atmospheric, and environmental sciences. He received his bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at Albany and Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder, both in geography. He now holds adjunct faculty positions at Appalachian State University, the University of Maine, and Bard College. With National Geographic Society funding, Seimon led a research program to catalog biodiversity in the high Andean watershed of Lake Sibinacocha in southern Peru at elevations up to 5,500 meters; this work included installing the first Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments site in South America. He currently works with conservationists to plan for climate change in tropical Africa using Earth system model supercomputer simulations. His research has been featured by National Geographic magazine and in several documentaries, and he continues to be fascinated by the factors that draw certain species to push elevational limits in Earth’s highest mountain ranges. 

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Tenzing Chogyal Sherpa
Glaciology Team, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
Tenzing Chogyal Sherpa
 Glaciology Team, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
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Tenzing Chogyal Sherpa is from Namche Bazaar, which lies at the foothills of the Everest region. He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and a master’s in glaciology from Kathmandu University, Nepal, which he received in 2016. He is currently working as a geographic information system and remote-sensing research associate at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Nepal. Before that, he worked as a research associate for the Cryosphere Monitoring Project at Kathmandu University. Additionally, he has supported numerous glacio-hydrological expeditions and geophysical surveys across Nepal. Sherpa’s research focuses on understanding the dynamics of glaciers in the Hindu Kush–Himalayan region and their evolution with the changing climate. He is also interested in understanding how these changes impact people living in mountain regions, specifically in the context of glacial hazards.

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Bal Krishna Shrestha
Geology Team, Tribhuvan University
Bal Krishna Shrestha
 Geology Team, Tribhuvan University
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Kathmandu native Bal Krishna Shrestha has long been interested in studying the geological environment. In 2016, he completed his bachelor’s degree in geology at Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus of Tribhuvan University, Nepal. Shrestha has continued his education at Tribhuvan University, where he is pursuing a master’s degree in engineering geology. His master’s research focuses on analyzing moraine deposits, for which he uses his skills and interests in photogrammetry, core logging, and carbon dating. Shrestha also has experience working on hydropower engineering technologies using ArcGIS and AutoCAD, and has been involved in projects throughout his master’s conducting geological mapping, site verification, and tunnel alignment.

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Praveen Kumar Singh
Glaciology Team, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
Praveen Kumar Singh
 Glaciology Team, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
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Praveen Singh is a Ph.D. fellow at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Nepal. He is working on an atmosphere-focused initiative with the Water and Air Theme team at ICIMOD. An Indian national, he is also a Ph.D. candidate in the Centre of Excellence in Disaster Mitigation and Management at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee. Singh is researching the impacts of air pollution and climate change and their further consequences on the glaciers of the Hindu Kush–Himalayan region using remote-sensing and field-based observation techniques. He received a technical bachelor's degree in electronics and communication engineering from Gautam Buddh Technical University, India, in 2011 and a master’s in environmental science from Central University Rajasthan, India, in 2016. Singh has experience working with satellite datasets using various scientific tools and software, and doing field sampling and taking measurements in semi-arid and high-altitude temperate environments.

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Lal Bahadur Thapa Singjali
Geology Team, Tribhuvan University
Lal Bahadur Thapa Singjali
 Geology Team, Tribhuvan University
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Nepal native Lal Bahadur Thapa Singjali is pursuing a master’s degree in geology at the Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus of Tribhuvan University, Nepal. His research focuses on the mathematical and physical mechanisms of sediment landslides to better understand the process of mass movement. Singjali completed his bachelor’s degree at the same Tribhuvan University campus studying engineering geology, physics, and math. He has taught math and science at the New Knowledge English Secondary School and has worked on many research projects related to landslides and other environmental issues at the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology.

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Peter Strand
Geology Team, University of Maine
Peter Strand
 Geology Team, University of Maine
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Peter Strand is a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Maine, where he also received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in Earth sciences. His research involves reconstructing past glacier chronologies and climate variability using cosmogenic radionuclide surface-exposure dating techniques. For his current project, he’s comparing the timing and structure of the Last Glacial Maximum and Termination in Northern and Southern Hemisphere mid-latitudes using the fluctuations of mountain glaciers. He is also interested in the roles played by changing oceanic and atmospheric circulations in the climate system. His previous field areas include the Eastern Tibetan Plateau; Mongolian Altai Mountains; Southern Alps, New Zealand; Northern Andes, Peru; and McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica.

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Manisha Timalsina
Biology Team, Tribhuvan University
Manisha Timalsina
 Biology Team, Tribhuvan University
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Manisha Timalsina is a master’s student in the Central Department of Botany at Tribhuvan University, Nepal, researching the flowering plant Codonopsis. Following graduation, Timalsina hopes to become a taxonomist and open a company that focuses on the commercialization of medicinal plants and those with agricultural value. She received her bachelor’s degree from the Patan Multiple Campus of Tribhuvan University in 2016. During the second year of her undergraduate studies, she taught science at Bhassara Secondary School. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, she worked as a lab assistant at Nobel College in Nepal; during that time, she also gained experience trekking in the Himalaya region.

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Media Team

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Tyler Dinley
Producer, National Geographic
Tyler Dinley
 Producer, National Geographic
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Tyler Dinley is a filmmaker, designer, and producer with a strong background in brand strategy and storytelling. Prior to his current role as a producer for the National Geographic Society's Impact Media team, Dinley worked as a senior creative for RED Digital Cinema in its Brand Creative and Strategy divisions, as well as a director and producer for its award-winning RED Collective video profile series.

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Sam Sheline
Associate Producer, National Geographic
Sam Sheline
 Associate Producer, National Geographic
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Sam Sheline is an award-winning filmmaker and environmental storyteller based in Washington, D.C. An associate producer at the National Geographic Society, he creates short educational videos about conservation, science, and other topics for middle school students. Sheline cares deeply about the power of media to create positive change for the places, people, and creatures that cannot speak for themselves. He holds an M.F.A. in environmental filmmaking from American University in Washington, D.C., and has taught documentary film at various institutions, including The George Washington University, also in Washington, D.C.

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Katja Adolphson
Media Team, Martin Edström Photography
Katja Adolphson
 Media Team, Martin Edström Photography
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Katja Adolphson is a physician with experience in emergency medicine and pediatrics who became interested in photography after working as a doctor for several photo expeditions. Based in Sweden, she has worked in hospitals in Tanzania, Mozambique, India, and Turkey. Her field research projects have focused on improving women's and children's health in rural and remote parts of Mozambique. Adolphson is also an alpine and rock climber and has worked as a photo assistant since 2011. She's taken part in several National Geographic assignments and expeditions, including the virtual reality expedition to the world's largest cave in Vietnam. She has also participated in several expeditions in Nepal and the Himalaya. As a current member on a National Geographic Society grantee team, Adolphson has explored caves in remote regions in parts of the Tien Shan Mountains in Kyrgyzstan to support local geology research and local efforts to establish a geopark in the area.

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Dirk Collins
Media Team, Fisher Creative
Dirk Collins
 Media Team, Fisher Creative
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Dirk Collins is a veteran filmmaker, photographer, and entrepreneur who has been in the media and marketing business for over 20 years. In 1994, he co-founded Teton Gravity Research, an action sports production company for which he produced and directed over 25 action sport documentary films, more than 100 television episodes, and scores of digital shorts and commercials. Collins later founded OneEyedBird Marketing & Entertainment, a boutique creative house where he has continued to produce content across film, television, and digital platforms. Collins is known for his work in remote locations and harsh environments.

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Eric Daft
Media Team, Fisher Creative
Eric Daft
 Media Team, Fisher Creative
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Eric Daft is an accomplished cinematographer and editor with a passion for filmmaking. Well-crafted compositions, dramatic light, and an eye for unique details are cornerstones of his cinematography. As co-founder of Fisher Creative, Daft has worked on scores of commercial productions as well as award-winning documentaries. He was one of the cinematographers as well as lead editor for two award-winning films: Fisher Creative’s Myanmar Bridges to Change and Dynafit’s From the Road. Daft is an accomplished athlete with experience ranging from month-long expeditions on remote Alaskan glaciers to epic quests into the unknown corners of the world.

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Fredrik Edström
Media Team, Martin Edström Photography
Fredrik Edström
 Media Team, Martin Edström Photography
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Fredrik Edström is a founding partner and creative producer at IVAR Studios, which specializes in highly immersive and interactive storytelling, in Stockholm, Sweden. Edström works on commercial and documentary projects for organizations around the world, including Plan International and the United Nations Development Programme. He’s been a part of several National Geographic 360-degree photography and virtual reality projects, including an expedition in 2015 that captured the story of Vietnam’s Son Doong, the largest cave in the world. He was also one of the producers and camera assistants for the first-ever 360-degree video filmed from within a pride of a wild lions, Lions 360° for National Geographic. Edström has in-depth knowledge of every part of production for virtual reality experiences, be it 360-degree video, interactive story design, volumetric capture, or photogrammetry.

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Martin Edström
Media Team, Martin Edström Photography
Martin Edström
 Media Team, Martin Edström Photography
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Award-winning National Geographic Explorer Martin Edström is a photographer and journalist based in Stockholm, Sweden. He uses interactive and immersive techniques—including 360-degree photography and virtual reality—to tell the important stories of our time in moving and inspiring ways. Through numerous expeditions and exploration projects, Edström has brought audiences inside the wild and forgotten corners of the world—from threatened heritage sites like Socotra in Yemen to the mammoth caverns of the largest cave in the world, Vietnam’s Son Doong. Edström and his team at IVAR Studios created the world’s first 360-degree video documentary from within a pride of wild lions, Lions 360°, for National Geographic in 2016. Working at the intersection of journalism, photography, and technology, Edström is intent on creating new ways to let people step into the story so they feel like they're actually there. Edström also regularly works on still photo assignments for outlets like National Geographic, the New York Times, and the Guardian. He has won multiple awards for his innovative work.

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Mark Fisher
Director of Photography, Fisher Creative
Mark Fisher
 Director of Photography, Fisher Creative
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Mark Fisher, co-founder of Fisher Creative, is an internationally recognized, award-winning photographer, director, and cinematographer. As an athlete and former international mountain guide, he thrives in challenging, remote, and technical locations, but also works well in frenetic urban environments. Fisher is equally at home directing large and complex international commercial shoots, using myriad camera systems for both still and motion pictures, and piloting complex drones. He has been selected for Photo District News’s 30 new and emerging photographers to watch, won the Adobe Rising Stars of Photography award, and lectured at the Annenberg Space for Photography; he was also a Fulbright Scholar. Most recently, Fisher’s work was part of the international museum exhibition and book Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present. In 2018, he summited Everest and filmed a documentary on the expedition for CNN.

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Brittany Mumma
Media Team, Fisher Creative
Brittany Mumma
 Media Team, Fisher Creative
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Growing up in the mountains of Alaska, Brittany Mumma developed a passion for adventure early on. After graduating from Boston College in Massachusetts, Mumma made the move to Jackson, Wyoming, with an opportunity to work for OneEyedBird Marketing & Entertainment in commercial film production. An ongoing connection with nature and a new focus on production and photography helped Mumma develop a broader sense of global citizenship and a growing interest in conservation. As a producer, photographer, and athlete, Mumma organizes, coordinates, and manages projects across the globe, allowing her to combine her work and passions.

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Emil Wesolowski
Media Team, Martin Edström Photography
Emil Wesolowski
 Media Team, Martin Edström Photography
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Emil Wesolowski is an award-winning Swedish photojournalist. He’s currently based in Brooklyn, New York, where he’s freelancing for a number of major Scandinavian media outlets. He's an expert in editorial portraiture—his portfolio features some of the world's most prominent thinkers and writers such as Salman Rushdie, Masha Gessen, Daniel Ellsberg, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Eileen Myles. His freelance work enables him to both cover breaking news and focus on long-form documentary work including personal projects in southern Asia. Wesolowski has worked on a wide range of projects, including an award-winning interactive story from a refugee camp in Tanzania in 2016 and film work in the Khumbu region of Nepal in 2018.

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Freddie Wilkinson
Media Team, National Geographic News
Freddie Wilkinson
 Media Team, National Geographic News
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A climber and adventure writer, Freddie Wilkinson is known for his original and substantive style. His work has taken him from the tea houses of Khumbu Himal, Nepal, to remote glaciers of the Alaska Range and storm-lashed Patagonian spires. His in-depth reporting on the 2008 K2 season, when 11 mountaineers died, changed public perception of the tragedy by telling the story through the eyes of the climbing Sherpas, and resulted in his book, One Mountain Thousand Summits. His writing has appeared in National Geographic, Men’s Journal, Outside, the New York Times, and other outlets. His many climbing expeditions have also been recognized with awards and grants, including from the National Geographic Society and the American Alpine Club. In 2012, Wilkinson received the prestigious Piolet d’Or award for making the first ascent of Saser Kangri II, the world’s second-highest unclimbed mountain at the time. Wilkinson has also written and co-directed many short adventure films and had his photography featured in commercial and editorial publications.

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National Geographic Project Staff

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Valerie Craig
VP, Impact Initiatives and Deputy to the Chief Scientist
Valerie Craig
 VP, Impact Initiatives and Deputy to the Chief Scientist
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Valerie Craig is deputy to the chief scientist and vice president of operating programs at the National Geographic Society. In this capacity, she has strategic and operational oversight for the Society’s series of flagship programs and projects, which are helping to push the boundaries of exploration, further understanding of our world, and collaboratively generate solutions for a healthier, more sustainable planet. She previously worked on ocean and freshwater issues for National Geographic’s impact initiatives and explorer programs and oversaw the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Fund. From 2004 to 2010, for SeaWeb’s Seafood Choices Alliance, she worked across the seafood industry and ocean conservation community to find and create opportunities to make the seafood marketplace more sustainable. Craig received a master’s in environmental management from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and has a bachelor’s in international relations.   

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Tegan Blaine
Vice President, Life at the Extremes
Tegan Blaine
 Vice President, Life at the Extremes
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Dr. Tegan Blaine is the vice president of Life at the Extremes. Most recently, she was the senior climate change advisor and climate change team leader in the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau for Africa. She set the strategic direction for USAID’s climate change investments in Africa and oversaw a team providing thought leadership and technical support to USAID’s Africa Missions on both mitigation and adaptation activities, including climate risk management. Previously, she worked on climate change and international development at McKinsey & Company and was a policy advisor on water at the U.S. Department of State. Blaine has a Ph.D. in oceanography and climate from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a B.A. in comparative literature and B.S. in mathematical ecology from Brown University. She taught secondary math and physics as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania, East Africa.

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Aurora Elmore
Scientific Strategy
Aurora Elmore
 Scientific Strategy
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Aurora Elmore is a climate change expert who oversees science, research, and strategy for the National Geographic Society’s Everest Expedition and its broader Life at the Extremes impact initiative. She received her bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in geology with a focus on oceanic chemistry and deep-sea circulation; she then worked as a researcher at several American and British universities before moving to National Geographic. Elmore has published numerous scientific research papers on the climate and marine chemistry of the North Atlantic, Southern Ocean, and Caribbean. Her expertise has been featured on the National Geographic Channel, and on National Geographic stages in Washington, D.C., and in London, England.

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Kyler Abernathy
Meteorology Team, National Geographic Society’s Exploration Technology Lab
Kyler Abernathy
 Meteorology Team, National Geographic Society’s Exploration Technology Lab
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Kyler Abernathy is the director of research in the National Geographic Society’s Exploration Technology Lab. There, he works with National Geographic Explorers and staff as well as external partners to identify and implement technological solutions to a wide range of research and exploration challenges. He began working with technology for conservation purposes during his master’s program at the University of Minnesota, where he employed satellite-linked time-depth recorders to identify critical habitat for the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. Since coming to National Geographic in 1999, Abernathy has participated in more than 100 technology-focused field projects in locations ranging from tropical islands to Antarctica.

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Fae Jencks
Communications and Marketing Director
Fae Jencks
 Communications and Marketing Director
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Fae Jencks is a director for marketing and engagement at the National Geographic Society, where she oversees communications and marketing strategy for the Society’s robust portfolio of science and exploration initiatives. Prior to joining National Geographic, Jencks served as senior policy advisor for public engagement in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. There she oversaw communication and engagement with science and technology stakeholders on a range of President Barack Obama’s priorities, including bolstering STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, taking action on climate change, and exploring space. Jencks has also worked in communications and research on the U.S. government’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, on the Obama 2012 presidential campaign, and at Media Matters for America. She has a B.A. in political communication from the George Washington University.

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Elena Studier
Expedition Specialist
Elena Studier
 Expedition Specialist
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Elena Studier is a specialist with the Life at the Extremes impact initiative and supports the planning and management of expeditions. Prior to her current role, Studier worked in transportation planning where she managed the implementation of transportation infrastructure projects. She has also worked in transportation advocacy and executed a nationwide campaign, in conjunction with Amtrak and the Rail Passengers Association, to better understand and highlight the role of passenger rail in the United States. Her interest in transportation was deeply rooted in its intersection with climate change, which ultimately led her to engage more directly with the subject through her work with Life at the Extremes. Studier graduated from the George Washington University with bachelor's degrees in geography and international affairs with concentrations in urban studies and international development.

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Alexis Bahl
Science Coordinator
Alexis Bahl
 Science Coordinator
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Alexis Bahl earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences from Loyola University Chicago where she researched the prevalence of microplastic contamination on fish species in Lake Michigan. Bahl then earned a master’s degree in environmental science and policy at Johns Hopkins University in 2018. At Johns Hopkins, she worked as a research assistant in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences analyzing the impact of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide on ocean circulation and oxygen concentrations in Earth system models.

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Perpetual Planet Expeditions are supported by Rolex 
as part of our commitment to a perpetual planet.

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