Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky
Artist, writer, and musician (Tribeca, New York City)

bookOfIce“The word ‘studio’ derives from ‘study.’ Our object is not to know the answers before we do the work. It’s to know them after we do it.”
—Bruce Mau

Music, art, and literature are inseparable for me. How does “composition” evolve in a music and art context? It’s a question we can never answer: it only asks for more information and generates more questions.

I’m passionate about the fact that this world that we live on is a stunningly beautiful place we have despoiled at every level. My work is all about creating new paths for thinking about the possibilities inherent in all art; another world is possible! I think of my Arctic and Antarctic projects as reflections of the idea of “acoustic portraits”: I took a studio to Antarctica to create portraits of ice and realized that ice was all about transformation. From liquid to solid, it was a metaphor for how much our contemporary life is based on information that can change at any time. I like that. Try making a symphony out of ice, and you’ll see what I mean.



David Gruber
Marine biologist, The City University of New York and American Museum of Natural History (New York, New York)

David_Gruber_in_scuba_credit_Elias_Carlson_02I search the oceans for glowing animals. My research aims to understand how marine animals secretly communicate in the darkness—and what chemicals they use to do so. This involves designing my own underwater equipment, lights, and cameras and scuba diving into the darkness in the world’s remote places.

I am passionate about transforming glowing discoveries from the ocean into tools that can help humans better understand life. The glowing discoveries that we find in the ocean are widely used by scientists to study afflictions such as Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Life inside and outside the ocean is integral to one another; we need to protect what lies inside our oceans so that they, in turn, can protect us.


Christopher Golden
Director of HEAL Program, Wildlife Conservation Society (Bronx, New York), and research associate at Harvard School of Public Health (Boston, Massachusetts)

Christopher_Golden_1936126_credit_Jon_Betz_National_Geographic_02I am an ecologist and epidemiologist interested in the interface of ecosystem service provisioning and human health, specifically in the context of global trends in biodiversity loss and ecosystem transformation. Most broadly, I am interested in local peoples’ dependence on natural resources to obtain adequate health. Since 1999, I have been conducting ecological and public health research in Madagascar, and I am fluent in several local dialects of Malagasy.

Christopher_Golden_1936126_credit_Jon_Betz_National_Geographic_02-subI am passionate about research and spending time outdoors. My main passion right now is developing innovative research programs that bridge our understanding of the relationships between environmental change and human health and well-being.


Maritza Morales Casanova
President and founder of Hunab Proyecto de Vida (Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico)

Maritza_Morales_Casanova_01I designed a fun way to teach children about environmental issues. I am building an environmental educational theme park, which is almost 35 percent complete, where 150 children will be trained to be “Heroes of Grandmother Earth.” In May 2015, we will celebrate the organization’s twentieth anniversary. I started my environmental movement when I was a child, and after all these years, I am still convinced that children are like Noah’s Ark because inside their hearts and brains, they all have the power to protect and save living beings.

I’m passionate about meeting the challenges that I face in life. I’m passionate about finding new methods to teach people about our wonderful Grandmother Earth in clear and interesting ways.


Robert Wood
Professor, Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

Robert_Wood_credit_Eliza-Grinnell,-Harvard-School-of-Engineering-and-Applied-Sciences_01I run a research lab that makes unique robots—robots that are very small, robots that are squishy, and robots that fold themselves from paper and walk away.

My passion is in creating novel things that make our lives better—specifically, through robotics. I am also passionate about the guitar, but unfortunately, I have not yet found a connection between these two!


Nizar Ibrahim
Paleontologist, The University of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)

Nizar_Ibrahim_credit_Kat_Keene_Hogue_01I am a paleontologist and comparative anatomist. I am interested in the evolution, diversity, and anatomy of fossil animals—in particular, those from the African continent. A large part of my research deals with dinosaurs, pterosaurs (flying reptiles), and other extinct reptiles.

I have a passion for animals. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to learn more about the incredible diversity of life, both living and extinct. Paleontology allows me to study fossils and living animals to better understand the incredible history of life on our planet.

Jack Andraka
High school student (Crownsville, Maryland) and student researcher, Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.)

Jack_Andraka_credit_Alexandra_Verville_National_Geographic_02I’m an eighteen-year-old cancer researcher who created a new way to diagnose pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancers in five minutes for three cents. The sensors can also be broadly expanded to detect a host of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, other forms of cancer, and even HIV/AIDS and heart disease. My more recent research focuses on crowdsourcing disease detection and environmental monitoring using inkjet-printable biosensors that change color if a biomarker or contaminant is present in a sample. The sensors can then be photographed with a phone and analyzed for rapid and inexpensive results on the spot.

My passion rests at the intersection of unrelated fields, uniting computer science with cancer biology and combining physics with environmental research.


Juliana Machado Ferreira, PhD
Executive director of Freeland Brazil (São Paulo, Brazil)

Juliana_Machado_Ferriera_credit_J_J_Kelley_National_Geographic_02My life’s work and mission are to combat illegal wildlife trafficking and overexploitation and to work for the conservation of biodiversity. I currently do that at Freeland Brazil by developing projects on three fronts: capacity enhancement and articulation, education and awareness, and scientific research.

I am passionate about doing work that I feel has a meaning and a positive impact. It is beautiful to feel that I am helping to make a difference, even a little one. I am passionate about wildlife, about the use of science in wildlife forensics, about biodiversity conservation, and mainly about nature and how evolution has shaped all these most beautiful and most wonderful, endless forms.


Shivani Bhalla
Founder and executive director, Ewaso Lions (Samburu, Kenya)

Shivani_Bhalla_credit_Kat_Keene_Hogue_National_Geographic_02I run the Ewaso Lions Project, a small, independent wildlife conservation organization whose mission is to conserve Kenya’s lions and other large carnivores by promoting coexistence between people and wildlife. Since 2007, Ewaso Lions has used science, education, and local capacity-building to guide and facilitate long-term carnivore conservation in northern Kenya.

I have had a passion for the big cats since I was a child. I was born and raised in Kenya, and going on safari with my parents and seeing Kenya’s wildlife confirmed my interest. Learning about their fate and their declining numbers in Kenya caused me great concern. That is why I started the project—to secure a future for lions and other carnivores in northern Kenya.


Tristram Stuart
Founder of Feedback (London, England)

Tristram_Stuart_credit_Kat_Keene_Hogue_National_Geographic_01I founded Feedback to share the idea that cutting food waste is a delicious way of saving money, helping to feed the world and protect the planet. Across the world, we organize fun events such as Feeding the 5000, gleaning days, and Disco Soups, where the public come and prepare thousands of free meals made entirely out of quality ingredients that would have been wasted.

We encourage people to sign our online food-waste pledge to put pressure on grocery stores, even the most “ethical” of which waste colossal amounts of food. They chuck produce away at the end of the day and, even worse, cause farmers to waste up to a third of their crops because they don’t look perfect.


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