Marine ecologist Enric Sala of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego is one of eight young trailblazers recently named to the 2007 class of National Geographic Emerging Explorers. Other winners of the award bestowed annually by the magazine include a polar adventurer, a former Sudanese "lost boy," a primatologist, and a Congolese environmental hero.
The Emerging Explorers program recognizes and supports gifted and inspiring adventurers, scientists, photographers, and storytellers who are making a significant contribution to world knowledge through exploration while still early in their careers. The Emerging Explorers each receive an award of $10,000 to assist with their research and to aid further exploration.
Sala, 38, is a marine ecologist who fell in love with the sea growing up on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Witnessing the harm people do to oceans led him to dedicate his career to understanding and finding ways to mitigate human impacts, such as overfishing, pollution, and coastal development.
Sala's research develops practical solutions to improve the health of our oceans. His scientific publications are widely recognized and used for conservation efforts such as the creation of marine reserves in Belize and the Sea of Cortes. He helped create the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Oceanography and an innovative multidisciplinary program to train future leaders in marine conservation.
"When I learned about the Emerging Explorer recognition I could not believe it,” Sala said. “It represents the realization of a childhood dream, to be part of these people whose ranks I wanted to join so badly when I used to browse endlessly the pages of National Geographic."
Other Emerging Explorers for 2007 are humanitarian and former Sudanese refugee Jon Bul Dau, of Syracuse, N.Y.; environmental crusader and polar adventurer David de Rothschild, of London; conservation scientist Luke Dollar, of Concord, N.C.; tropical botanist Corneille Ewango, of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; primatologist and conservationist Mireya Mayor, of Miami; musical explorer and filmmaker Joshua Ponté, of London; and filmmaker and globalist Roshini Thinakaran, of Washington, D.C., and formerly of Sri Lanka.
National Geographic Emerging Explorers may be selected from virtually any field, from the Society's traditional arenas of anthropology, archaeology, photography, space exploration, sociology, earth sciences, geology, mountaineering, cartography, education, and history to the worlds of art, music, and filmmaking.
“A key mission of National Geographic over the past 119 years has been to support and chronicle achievements of explorers and to sponsor their scientific expeditions. The Emerging Explorers program identifies and honors outstanding adventurers who are setting out on promising careers. They represent tomorrow's Edmund Hillarys, Jacques Cousteaus, and Dian Fosseys,” said Terry Garcia, National Geographic's executive vice president for Mission Programs.
Visit nationalgeographic.com/emerging to view a web feature including comprehensive profiles of the explorers and their activities.