Motswana Geoscientist Among 2023 Wayfinder Award Recipients


The National Geographic Society this week announced the recipients of the 2023 Wayfinder Awards, and among them is a Motswana geoscientist investigating the processes controlling the water chemistry of the Okavango Delta.

Goabaone Jaqueline Ramatlapeng is also the founder of a writing platform where she provides research, academic, and professional development support to African university students and professionals in STEM.

Ramatlapeng is currently pursuing her PhD in Earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Davis. Her research focuses on the processes controlling the water chemistry of the Okavango Delta. She has accompanied the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project on its annual crossing of the Delta, to monitor water flow, quality, and ecosystem health.

The Society said in statement this week that the newly named National Geographic Explorers represent the next generation of influential leaders, communicators, and innovators selected for their exemplary achievements in exploration through science, education, conservation, technology, and storytelling.

They also include an Egyptologist, documentary filmmaker, investigative journalist, biologist, urban ecologist and other innovators,

Wayfinder Award recipients are individuals who have proven themselves to be the next generation of influential leaders, communicators, and innovators whose critical work inspires us to learn about, care for, and protect the wonder of our world. Their ground breaking work covers a vast array of impact-driven projects including connecting youth to the ocean, using innovative technology to track insects across landscapes, investigating critical environmental stories, and developing equitable conservation solutions for poor communities.

“On behalf of the National Geographic Society, we’re proud to name these 15 trailblazers as 2023 Wayfinder Award recipients for their exceptional contributions on a local and global scale,” said Alexander Moen, chief explorer engagement officer at the National Geographic Society.

“We’re thrilled to celebrate each of these individuals at Base Camp headquarters in June for our annual Explorers Festival where we’ll recognize their remarkable achievements that bring our mission to life.”

The Wayfinder Award recipients join the Society’s global community of National Geographic Explorers and each receive a monetary prize to support their work.

The other recipients are Manu Akatsa, a Kenyan documentary filmmaker, cinematographer and animator who captures the beauty and complexity of the world,  Aliaa Ismail  an Egyptian Egyptologist who strives to employ creative ways for the understanding and preservation of Egyptian Heritage as a way of strengthening her connection to her own ancestry, Clinton Johnson is an American geospatial architect who is finding creative ways to implement practical solutions for real-world challenges faced by diverse communities. Nelly Luna is a Peruvian investigative journalist in digital media who works on environmental, human rights, transparency, and other issues to promote innovation and cross-border journalism in Latin America. Shamier Magmoet is a South African freediver, conservationist and filmmaker who enables and educates youth to experience the ocean and become advocates and protectors of the ocean. Serena McCalla is an American educator and science strategist who has dedicated her life to advancing science and science education with the most promising youth in the United States. Sada Mire is a Swedish-Somali archaeologist, art historian and presenter whose work lobbies and promotes cultural heritage as a basic human need in times of war.  Pablo Montaño is a Mexican climate communicator and climate change research coordinator for Conexiones Climaticas, which is focused on climate communication and improving local agri-food systems. Muhammed Muheisen is a Jordanian photographer and the founder of the Dutch non-profit organization Everyday Refugees Foundation. Surshti Patel

Surshti Patel is a British conservation social scientist who develops pro-poor, equitable and scalable solutions for community-based marine and freshwater conservation, integrating plastic waste management, protected area establishment, sustainable livelihood development and access to financial services.

Christopher Schell is an American urban ecologist who combines behavioural, physiological, and genomic approaches to demonstrate the myriad consequences of historical and contemporary inequities on organismal, population, and community-level dynamics of wildlife. Theanne Schiros Theanne Schiros is an American materials scientist whose research focuses on the development of advanced and bioinspired materials for a circular economy, including clean energy technology and regenerative performance textiles. Alex Schnell Alex Schnell is an Australian wildlife scientist and science communicator with expertise in marine biology, animal behaviour, animal intelligence and conservation in both terrestrial and aquatic species ranging from elephants to octopuses. Zhengyang Wang Zhengyang Wang is a Chinese conservation biologist who studies the diversity of insects in the Himalaya and Hengduan Mountains.


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