National Geographic Advise Aspiring Trekkers

A few hundred people crowded inside of Geological Lecture Hall on Saturday night to hear tales of New Guinea birds and Tibetan antelopes from National Geographic photographer Timothy G. Laman and renowned alpinist Conrad Anker.

The event was co-sponsored by the Harvard Museum of Natural History (HMNH) and the National Geographic Society (NGS), and was an extension of the National Geographic Young Explorers Grant Workshop.

The workshop, which was earlier in the day, introduced previous grant recipients, NGS explorers and photographers, to more than 100 potential grant applicants. The Young Explorers Grant Program is intended to help fund research, conservation and exploration projects for people between the ages of 18 and 25.

“People need to know that National Geographic isn’t just a magazine,” said John M. Francis, vice president for research, conservation, and exploration at NGS. “It is an empowering organization.”

Laman, an ornithology research associate in the Museum of Comparative Zoology who received his Ph.D. in biology from the University in 1994, spoke about his “Birds of the Paradise” project in New Guinea. As part of his project, he photographed native New Guinea birds—many of which had never been photographed before.


Renowned alpinist Anker, who discovered the long-lost body of English mountaineer George Mallory on Mount Everest in 1999, discussed his expedition to Tibet’s Chang Tang Plateau in search of the calving grounds of the Tibetan antelope. Also known as the chiru, the endangered animal is often hunted for its fine wool.

“The pressure that luxury items was having on wildlife was made obvious to us,” he said.

According to the HMNH Assistant Director of Public Programs Tom Scanlon, the museum hoped to promote an appreciation for the natural world among the student body and the public through the workshop and lecture.

“The partnership with National Geographic is a real natural and exciting opportunity for Harvard and the Museum to help foster a new generation of explorers,” Scanlon said.

Past beneficiaries of the Young Explorers Grant were also present at the event, including Katherine R. Amato, a 2007 graduate Dartmouth College who used the grant to do field work on howler monkeys in Mexico.

“There are a lot of opportunities in ecology right now that are interdisciplinary,” she said.