National Geographic Announces 2014 Emerging Explorers


The Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Soci­ety has announced its selec­tion for the 2014 Emerg­ing Explor­ers pro­gram, an annu­al list of young men and women who have had an impor­tant impact on their par­tic­u­lar area of research, even at a rel­a­tive­ly ear­ly stage of their career. As usu­al, the list is filled with sci­en­tists, adven­tur­ers, and con­ser­va­tion­ists who are push­ing the enve­lope in some incred­i­bly diverse fields of study. This year’s list also hap­pens to include the youngest per­son ever to earn the dis­tinc­tion of being named an Emerg­ing Explor­er, a 17-year-old inven­tor who could poten­tial­ly change med­ical care as we know it.

 The 2014 class of Emerg­ing Explor­ers includes 14 indi­vid­u­als, each con­duct­ing research in some fas­ci­nat­ing fields. They include marine biol­o­gist David Gru­ber, who research­es the intri­cate meth­ods of com­mu­ni­ca­tions employed by bio­lu­mi­nes­cent and bio­flu­o­res­cent sea life. He’s joined by Shiv­ani Bhal­la, a con­ser­va­tion biol­o­gist who is work­ing to pro­tect lion pop­u­la­tions in Kenya, and pale­on­tol­o­gist Nizar Ibrahim, who dis­cov­ered a new species of fly­ing dinosaur in North­ern Africa. Oth­er explor­ers include a nanosci­en­tist work­ing to improve solar pow­er, a writer cam­paign­ing against food waste, and an envi­ron­men­tal­ist work­ing to edu­cate peo­ple on the envi­ron­ment in her home coun­try of Mexico.

AndrakaAs usu­al, each of the Emerg­ing Explor­ers is an impres­sive indi­vid­ual, but this year, one young man real­ly stands out from the crowd. He is Jack Andra­ka, the youngest ever mem­ber of the pro­gram at 17 years of age. Jack earned his spot on Nat Geo’s list by invent­ing a cheap, effec­tive, and easy to admin­is­ter test that can detect pan­cre­at­ic, lung, and ovar­i­an can­cer in its ear­ly stages, poten­tial­ly sav­ing thou­sands of lives. He says that his test has a 90% accu­ra­cy rate, is 400 times more sen­si­tive, 168 times faster, and far more inex­pen­sive than the tests that are being wide­ly used today. Fur­ther­more, Jack holds the patent on this new test, and hopes to bring it to mar­ket some­time in the next decade. Per­haps even more promis­ing, he believes the test could be applied to a vari­ety of oth­er dis­eases as well, pos­si­bly rev­o­lu­tion­iz­ing med­ical care around the globe.

Along with the hon­or of being named one of Nation­al Geo­graph­ic’s Emerg­ing Explor­ers, these young pro­fes­sion­als are also award­ed a $10,000 grant to fur­ther aid them in their work. To read about all of the mem­bers of the 2014 Emerg­ing Explor­ers class, click here.