One Indian-American, Two Others Of Indian Origin Among National Geographic’s 2021 Emerging Explorers

This year, National Geographic’s cohort of Emerging Explorers includes among its honourees one Indian American and two others of Indian origin. 

“Since 1888, the National Geographic Society has brought together extraordinary individuals from around the world. While our Explorers represent diverse backgrounds and pursue very different types of work, we think they share some traits in common,” the National Geographic website said. 

The National Geographic Society has selected 15 global changemakers to comprise the 2021 Emerging Explorer cohort. 

Among the honourees were a physician and inventor, Ved Chirayath, polar conservationist Prem Gill, and wildfire photographer and filmmaker Senthil Kumaran. 

These 15 people are responsible for conducting their work on a wide range of topics like inventing space technologies, ocean exploration, understanding the past through archaeology and anthropology, species conservation, storytelling and more. 

Chirayath, the director of the NASA Laboratory for Advanced Sensing at Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, earned his doctorate from Stanford University. He later started inventing next-generation sensing technologies for NASA. At present, he is engaged in mapping the ocean floor, particularly coral reefs and shallow marine ecosystems. 

His bio said that he had bagged the American Geophysical Union’s 2020 Charles S. Falkenberg Award, the 2017 NASA Early Career for “significant advances in aquatic remote sensing technology,” and the 2016 NASA Equal Employment Opportunity Medal for organizing NASA’s first participation in the San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade. 

Being a professional photographer, his work has been featured in Vogue, the New York Times, Vanity Fair and Elle. 

Prem Gill is a British Indian polar conservationist and doctoral candidate. He is using high-resolution satellite imagery in an attempt to study Antarctic seals and their sea ice habitats. He is leading the “Seals from Space” project with the Scott Polar Research Institute, British Antarctic Survey, and WWF. He is also assisting in producing the landmark wildlife series ‘Frozen Planet II’, with BBC. 

Polar Impact, a network of ethnic and racial minorities in polar research, has been founded by Gill. 

Kumaran is a documentary photographer and filmmaker from South India. For more than a decade now, he has been chronicling issues surrounding the human-tiger conflict. He is currently working on the documentation of human-elephant coexistence issues and methods of mitigation in South India.  

In 2014, Kumaran’s documentary on the Illegal animal trade in Cambodia’s grey market earned him a Hope Françoise Demulder Grant.  

Kumaran has won over 15 international awards, including Pictures of the Year International and Geographical Photographer of the Year. He was also selected as a World Press Photo 6×6 Global Talent artist from Asia in 2019. Among various other platforms, photographs taken by Kumaran have been published in National Geographic. 

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