Five young visionaries from Africa, India, Europe and the Middle East were announced today as winners of the 2014 Rolex Awards for Enterprise.
The announcement was made by Rolex at the Royal Society in London.
“After a record number of young applicants this year, we are proud to announce the winners and to support these individuals in developing their inspiring work,” said Rebecca Irvin, Head of Philanthropy at Rolex. “The five Young Laureates and their projects clearly demonstrate a strong spirit of enterprise and leadership. This year’s Jury was particularly impressed with the practical approach each is taking to solve real-world problems. They are certainly role models whose stories Rolex is pleased to bring to the world.”
“This year’s Young Laureates – aged 30 and under – impress by both their leadership qualities and in their ability to harness technology in an original way to improve the well-being of the community and the environment, as well as to advance scientific knowledge,” Rolex said in a news statement.
The five Young Laureates were chosen by an international jury of eight eminent experts who reviewed a shortlist from among 1,800 applicants from all over the world. The Laureates will each receive 50,000 Swiss francs to advance their projects.
Neeti Kailas, 29, India – aims to vastly increase screening of newborn babies for hearing loss, through an inexpensive, easy-to-use device, and to set up an associated network of health-care professionals in India who can diagnose or treat deafness.
Olivier Nsengimana, 30, Rwanda – is promoting breeding programs and the release of Rwanda’s captive, endangered grey crowned-cranes. The iconic bird, a symbol of wealth and longevity in Rwanda, is a victim of its own beauty, and is often kept as a pet.
Francesco Sauro, 29, Italy – is exploring the vast quartzite caves of South America’s fabled tabletop mountains on the border of Venezuela and Brazil, making discoveries of unique worlds that have evolved in isolation over millennia.
Arthur Zang, 26, Cameroon – has invented what is believed to be Africa’s first medical tablet, which will allow health-care workers in rural areas to send the results of cardiac tests to heart specialists via a mobile-phone connection.
Hosam Zowawi, 29, Saudi Arabia – is developing rapid tests to detect the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, now considered a global threat to human health. He also plans a regional public campaign warning of the dangers of the overuse and misuse of antibiotics.
The Rolex Awards for Enterprise were initiated in 1976 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Oyster chronometer, the world’s first waterproof watch and a symbol of the innovation that the Awards program supports. The program recognizes enterprising men and women who are using their talents and initiative to change the world in five broad areas: science and health, applied technology, the environment, exploration and discovery, and cultural heritage.
In 2010, the first Awards devoted to Young Laureates honored resourceful young men and women at a critical juncture in their careers. In addition to the prize money, the Young Laureates receive recognition of their projects through an international media campaign, access to the community of former Rolex Laureates and Jury members, and a Rolex chronometer.
The Rolex Awards for Enterprise and the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, which pairs master artists with emerging talents in seven artistic disciplines for a year-long collaboration, comprise the two major philanthropic programs of Rolex SA and are run from Rolex headquarters in Geneva, Rolex said in its news statement.
About the Young Laureates
Project Location: India
Project: Increase screening of newborn babies for hearing loss
While her classmates at India’s prestigious National Institute of Design (NID), in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, were creating stylish new versions of household products, or innovative fabrics,
Neeti Kailas was redesigning the bedpan for India’s crowded public hospitals. “To me, design is about problem solving, and thinking about how I can have maximum impact on society. In
a country like India, that’s never going to happen by designing the next lemon squeezer,” she says.
The bedpan project sparked a passion to use design to transform health care. Together with her engineer husband Nitin Sisodia, Kailas launched the Sohum Innovation Lab, and the lab’s first product is a device to screen babies for hearing impairment. Kailas is personally connected to the project, through an Indian childhood friend who was born deaf. “She’s had a totally different life to the rest of us, with very few opportunities,” says Kailas.
Her friend is just one of many. Every year, some 100,000 hearing-impaired babies are born in India, but there is no routine screening countrywide to detect the condition, and the existing tests are expensive and require skilled health-care workers. Early screening is vital because, if left unaddressed, a hearing impairment can impede the development of speech, language, and cognition by the time a baby is six months old.
Kailas’s device works by measuring auditory brainstem response. Three electrodes are placed on the baby’s head to detect electrical responses generated by the brain’s auditory system when stimulated. If the brain does not respond to these aural stimuli, the child cannot hear. The device is battery-operated and non-invasive, which means babies do not need to be sedated, as some tests in the past have required. Since the equipment is inexpensive and portable, it can be used anywhere. “Another of the device’s major advantages over other testing systems is our patented, in-built algorithm that filters out ambient noise from the test signal. This was really important for us because, if you’ve ever been to health clinics in India, you’ll know how incredibly crowded and noisy they are,” says Kailas.
The unit is still a prototype, and Rolex Award funds will allow Kailas to start clinical trials later this year. Her plan is to launch it in 2016, first focusing on institutional (hospital) births, with the aim of screening 2 per cent of such births in the first year, before scaling up on an annually accrued basis.
If the clinical trials are a success, Kailas and her partner will be embarking on an enormously ambitious project that, Kailas hopes, will ultimately allow every single baby born in India to be screened for hearing impairment. Kailas acknowledges that ensuring this happens in a country like India – with its complex, chaotic healthcare system – is “a tall order”, but she has devised an innovative approach to rolling out the technology through paediatricians, maternity homes, health-care workers, and entrepreneurs, who will buy the devices and then charge a small fee for every test. A door-to-door service will be particularly important in rural areas, where health
clinics are scarce. While it is an untested approach, Kailas is confident that it will work. “Indians don’t need much encouragement to become entrepreneurs. When the IT boom hit, for example,
Internet cafes mushroomed all over the country,” she says.
Kailas hopes that the screening programme can be adapted to include screening for impaired vision in newborns, or for identifying high-risk pregnancies.
Profile: Born on 22 April 1985, Kailas has a Graduate Diploma in Product Design from the National Institute of Design, India, and a Master’s in Industrial Design from the Art Center College of Design, California, United States. From the beginning of her studies, Kailas focused strongly on healthcare issues, designing a portable ultrasound machine, among other projects, while studying for her diploma.
After studying at INSEAD near Paris in 2011, she joined Nestlé as a designer in Switzerland and later worked with the company in the United States as a design strategist. Her experience also includes a role at the TVS Motor Company in India, where she designed an award-winning sustainable electric-hybrid scooter.
Sohum Innovation Lab is a direct result of the complementary skills of Kailas and her husband, Nitin Sisodia. “I’ve never felt as intensely motivated as I do working for Sohum. It can be hard at times, but we would rather give it our best shot and fail than not try at all. Our vision is to screen every single baby born in resource-poor settings, so that the hearing impaired are identified
early, get timely intervention, so that speech loss can be prevented and they get equal access to education and employment.”
Project Location: Rwanda
Project: Save endangered grey crowned-cranes to conserve Rwanda ’s biodiversity
Project: Save endangered grey crowned-cranes to conserve Rwanda ’s biodiversity
Olivier Nsengimana graduated top of his class at veterinary school – after growing up in post-genocide Rwanda – and had his pick of government and lucrative industry positions. But his passion was saving Rwanda’s endangered animals. “As soon as I was out in the field, working with these animals, I thought, wow, this is me, conservation is what I was meant to do with my life.”
He chose to volunteer as a field veterinarian for Gorilla Doctors as a way of giving back to his country. While the gorilla is a famously iconic symbol of Rwanda’s endangered species, many others are also under threat from poaching and habitat encroachment. Nsengimana is on a mission to save the grey crowned-crane,an endangered bird that is fast dying out in Rwanda because of illegal poaching.
In Rwanda, the crane is a symbol of wealth and longevity. With a golden tufted crown and a flame-red spot on its neck, it is a desirable pet for Rwanda’s elite. Despite a ban by the Rwandan Government on killing, injuring, capturing or selling endangered species, locals poach the birds and sell them as cheaply as chickens in markets. The result has been devastating for Rwanda’s only species of crane. Its population has fallen by 80 per cent over the past 45 years, causing the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to raise the threat listing for the bird to “endangered” in 2012. While there are grey crowned-cranes in other countries, only 300–500 are thought to exist in the wild in Rwanda, mainly at Rugezi Marsh, a protected area in the north of the country.
Nsengimana will spend the next two years dividing his time between field work with conservation organization Gorilla Doctors and trying to save the grey crowned-crane through two very different approaches. The project’s primary goal is to reintroduce captive cranes to their natural Rwandan habitat. Documentation will be key, and Nsengimana plans to first establish a national database of grey crowned-cranes in Rwanda, listing all those in captivity. A rehabilitation centre will be created in Akagera National Park, located in the north-east of the country. This centre will begin reintroductions to the wild – once Nsengimana has convinced people to release their cranes – as well as facilitate captive breeding programs.
Convincing members of Rwanda’s elite to give up their birds is a sensitive issue. Nsengimana plans to tackle this by organizing the release of illegally kept birds through an amnesty programme.
For support, he has reached out to the Rwanda Development Board, which is collaborating on the project, to encourage people to release their birds. “People are already coming forward to surrender their cranes,” he says.
Another major aim is to stop the birds being poached from the wild. Nsengimana knows that for conservation to work in a country where poverty is widespread, it must address the need for local people to make a living. As part of his awareness-raising programme, Nsengimana will run a national media campaign to educate people about how to pursue livelihoods without threatening endangered species. In the long run, finding ways to conserve the cranes’ habitat will help conserve Rwanda’s biodiversity by protecting other species that live in the marshes. Nsengimana, who is aged 30, also has a long-term mission – to foster a younger generation of Rwandan conservationists. “I want to train young veterinarians to help with this project, and take ownership of conservation projects and, so far, the response has been extremely positive,” he says.
Many other African countries are struggling to balance protecting the environment with economic development, and Nsengimana hopes that this project will serve as a model for neighbouring countries.
Born on 23 May 1984, Nsengimana excelled in his studies, despite the ongoing political and social turbulence in Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. After graduating with a Bachelor in Veterinary
Medicine (2010) at the Higher Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry in the Northern Province, rather than follow his classmates into livestock production, he chose conservation, a path few young Rwandans tread.
Since 2010, he has been a field veterinarian with Gorilla Doctors, based in Musanze in the north of Rwanda, which was set up by the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project and the Wildlife Health Center, University of California, Davis. He also works for the USAID-funded Emerging Pandemic Threats PREDICT programme in Kigali, conducting wildlife surveillance to identify the emergence of new infectious diseases. Nsengimana is currently studying for a long-distance MVetSci in Conservation Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He expects to graduate in 2015.
Nsengimana – who lived in a refugee camp at the age of nine – acknowledges that his childhood was tough, but he is always mindful that many Rwandans went through much tougher times than he did. “Ultimately, hard times leave you with two options: they can break you completely and you lose your hope; or you choose to work hard towards rebuilding a broken country and preventing such tragedies ever happening again. Every Rwandan has had a role to play in moving forward from the genocide,” he says. “I knew that whatever I did with my life, I had to contribute something meaningful to my country.”
Project Location: Brazil and Venezuela
Project: Explore ancient quartzite caves in the tepuis of South America
For scientist and explorer Francesco Sauro, the table-top mountains – tepuis – of South America have always had a powerful allure. “Not just because they are beautiful, which of course they are,” he says, “but because inside they’re actually a kind of lost world.” Towering over the savannah and rainforest that straddle south-eastern Venezuela and northern Brazil, the string of quartzite plateaus constitutes one of the globe’s most dramatic landscapes. But it also contains extensive cave structures, which harbour unique geological and biological features that have evolved over millennia in isolation from the surrounding environment.
As part of the Italian exploration association La Venta, and with the support of the Venezuelan team Theraphosa, Sauro has led five expeditions to the tepuis since 2009. They made several iscoveries, including one of the world’s longest quartzite caves (Imawarì Yeuta with over 20 kilometres of passages), in Venezuela’s Auyan tepui. His research provided new insights into how these giant quartzite caves form. He also discovered the presence of a new mineral, rossiantonite, as well as other rare silica and sulphate formations. Additional finds include new cave animal species, such as a blind fish trapped in an underground river, which could reveal a close relationship to some African species – further evidence of the period when Africa and South America formed a super-continent. It is the prospect of studying such fascinating oddities that is drawing Sauro back to the region later this year.
Between November 2014 and November 2017, with the support of his Rolex Award for Enterprise and other sponsors, Sauro intends to lead a series of four expeditions into caves in the farthest tepuis of the Amazonas region: Duida-Marahuaka massif in southern Venezuela, and Pico da Neblina and Serra do Aracá in neighbouring Brazil. “Conditions will be challenging due to the remoteness of the locations and altitudes of up to 2,900 metres, but I think the rewards will be considerable,” Sauro says. “Because of the heavy rainfall in the region, there is likely to be extensive water erosion, which of course translates into even bigger caves.” He also believes that the new locations – further inland and far from previous research sites – will present very different ecosystems with variant geo-microbiological environments and unknown fauna. “The idea is to collect data with a multidisciplinary and holistic approach to build up a picture of the whole area, offering insights into the evolution of landscape and life in central South America after the opening of the Atlantic Ocean 100 million years ago,” he says.
The Award will fund a preliminary reconnaissance mission involving a three-to-five-man team that will survey the sites by helicopter. This will allow them to locate cave entrances and assess the caves’ speleological and scientific potential, as well as study logistical difficulties. It will also fund a second, multidisciplinary team of nine to 15 scientists and cavers from Italy, Venezuela, Brazil
and Switzerland who will then undertake a survey of the caves, collecting geological and geomicrobiological data, analysing the caves’ morphology, water chemistry and rock weathering, as well as looking for new or rare minerals and life forms.
Mindful of the spiritual significance and ecological importance of the tepuis for the indigenous people, Sauro has always shared the knowledge derived from his expeditions with local communities, and has ensured that research is undertaken with the utmost respect for the environment both inside and outside the cave formations. The expeditions will also include local Venezuelan and Brazilian cavers, in order to share research and discoveries with local institutions and caving groups.
Born on 17 September 1984, Sauro grew up listening to stories of his father’s and uncle’s caving adventures, and began caving around his home in northern Italy at the age of 13. When he was 19 years-old, he was invited by Antonio de Vivo – a 1993 Rolex Award Laureate and one of the founders of La Venta – to join a caving and canyoning expedition in the Mexican state of Durango. “This was my first expedition outside Europe and it really opened my eyes,” says Sauro. Since then, he has taken part in 23 expeditions in Asia and Latin America, leading 12 of them in Mexico and Venezuela. He has surveyed over 50 km of previously unmapped cave systems, and reached a depth of over 1,000 m in the Alps.
A geologist by training, with a BSc and MSc in geology from the University of Padua (2007/2010), and a Ph.D in geology from the University of Bologna (2014), Sauro combines a commitment to serious research with a passionate desire to communicate. In 2004, aged 20, he wrote the script for a documentary, L’Abisso (The Abyss), about the exploration of a famous cave in northern Italy. L’Abisso won 11 awards at festivals in Europe and the United States. In 2007, he turned the script into a 264-page book, for which he won a mention in Italy’s 2008 ITAS prize for mountain literature. In 2012, an episode of the documentary series The Dark, produced by the BBC, was dedicated to his discoveries in Venezuelan tepuis. His upcoming expeditions will be the subject of two documentaries.
Because of his extensive experience as an expedition leader, in 2012 and 2013, Sauro was asked to act as scientific consultant and instructor for the European Space Agency’s training programme,
CAVES (Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behaviour and performance Skills), which prepares multicultural teams of astronauts to work together by exploring caves, an extreme environment that is in many ways analogous to space.
Project Location: Cameroon
Project: Invent Africa’s first medical computer tablet to help diagnose people with heart disease
By day, Arthur Zang may seem like any other university IT specialist, but by night, he uses his technological know-how to pioneer cardiac health care in his native Cameroon. Zang has invented the Cardiopad – which is believed to be Africa’s first handheld medical computer tablet. It will allow health-care workers in rural areas to send the results of cardiac tests to specialists via a mobile phone connection.
The incidence of heart disease is rising in many low and middle-income countries around the world due to wealthier lifestyles and greater longevity. Cameroon is no exception. According to Cameroon’s Society of Cardiologists, some 30 per cent of the country’s 22 million people suffer from high blood pressure, which is one of the key contributing factors to heart disease. Yet there are fewer than 50 heart specialists, most of whom are based in the cities of Douala and Yaoundé, leaving rural areas with virtually no cardiac care.
Zang’s patented touchscreen Cardiopad could change that. His company, Himore Medical, will sell the Cardiopad as part of a complete diagnostic kit for about US$2,000, less than half the price
of other, less portable, systems.
The other components in the kit are a wireless set of four electrodes and a sensor that attaches to the patient and transmits its signals via Bluetooth to the Cardiopad. The kit takes a digitized
electrocardiogram (ECG) reading of the patient’s heart function.
The health-care worker who takes this reading then transmits this information to a national data centre. Once the ECG is received, a cardiologist makes a diagnosis and sends it back to the centre
to be relayed to the health-care worker treating the patient, along with prescription instructions.
The Cardiopad has the potential to become a complete telemedicine tool, allowing measurement and transmission of integrated information on a patient’s health profile, which could help diagnose
many other diseases.
The idea for the Cardiopad emerged in 2007, when Zang was finishing his degree. Interested in applying technology to medicine he spent a lot of time in hospitals. On one hospital visit, he
was watching a television programme showing an ECG being taken. “I said to myself: ‘I wonder how that works?’” Cardiologist Professor Samuel Kingué from Yaoundé’s main hospital became a mentor, teaching Zang about the type of software needed for a portable ECG device and about how to process the data that comes from the signal.
When Zang began designing the Cardiopad, however, financing was difficult. “I went to the banks, but they wanted all sorts of guarantees.” So he used a 21st century solution: he posted a video
about his project on Facebook to raise funds. This led to a $20,000 grant from the Cameroon Government, which Zang used to produce 20 tablets, two of which are being tested in hospitals
With his Award funds, Zang will produce 100 tablets, 10 for each of Cameroon’s provinces. “My goal is to have 500 Cardiopads being used across Cameroon,” he says. He also wants to export the device to other regions such as central Africa and India. The Cardiopads are currently produced in China. Over the next decade, Zang hopes to shift production to Cameroon, enabling his country to benefit economically as well.
The Cardiopad is just the first step in Arthur Zang’s mission to bring better health-care to his country. He aims to set up Cardioglob, an integrated nationwide network of hospitals and cardiologists, allowing comprehensive data management and cardiac services. Zang also intends to develop a family of medical devices and technologies, such as simple ultrasound equipment, for use in rural areas. And he is already planning his next invention, a beeper to allow patients to alert their doctors in medical emergencies.
Profile: Arthur Zang, born on 26 November 1987, is part of a new generation of African social entrepreneurs who are determined to build high-tech business ventures while helping their fellow citizens. “I’m
very sensitive to the problems of other people. For me, it’s highly satisfying to be of service to people in need,” he says. Having been born in a Cameroonian village himself, he knows the
problems with rural health care. “It’s very difficult to be a long way from medical care. I’ve seen this in my own family.”
Zang is the chief IT engineer of the Catholic University of Central Africa in Yaoundé. He first moved there to study for his Bachelor’s in Computer Science from the University of Yaoundé (which he finished in 2007). Two years later, Zang did a Master’s at the National Advanced School of Engineering of Yaoundé to give him the necessary expertise to design the Cardiopad.
Zang reaches out to social media, particularly Facebook, whenever he faces an obstacle. “Just as there aren’t many cardiologists in Cameroon, so there aren’t many technology specialists. I sent
messages to Microsoft and other companies when I needed advice,” he says. And he got it.
Zang’s prowess as an innovator is increasingly being recognized; in 2011, he was a semi-finalist in Microsoft’s Imagine cup, a student technology competition, and in 2012, he won medical
innovation awards from both the Cameroonian Association of Engineers and Computer Scientists in Germany, as well as the Junior Chamber International, a global network of young active citizens.
Not all inventions succeed but Zang’s talent is that he is not merely a dreamer who has great ideas – he has the determination to see them through. “To me, if you start something, you must finish it.
That is what gives me the greatest satisfaction.”
Country: Saudi Arabia
Project Location: Australia , Gulf region
Project: Develop faster superbug tests and raise awareness of antibiotic resistance
Every day that 29-year-old microbiologist Hosam Zowawi nightmare scenario in which modern drugs fail to work could become reality. For his Ph.D at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, Zowawi is studying the way that bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics that help us fight off life-threatening infections such as pneumonia. While resistant strains of bacteria have been recognized for some
time, microbiologists like Zowawi are increasingly discovering strains that are immune to all known antibiotics, rendering them so resilient that they have been dubbed ‘superbugs’. Zowawi is studying patients who are dying of common conditions such as urinary tract infections – which would normally be treatable – because they harbor antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Existing diagnostic tests are too slow to detect resistant bacteria, taking between 48–72 hours to yield results. This is too long for many patients who need urgent treatment, so doctors use trial and error to identify an antibiotic that works. Zowawi has developed a Rapid Superbug test that gives results in just three to four hours, potentially allowing doctors to prescribe an appropriate antibiotic. Zowawi’s test searches bacteria for genes that make beta-lactamase enzymes, which allow bacteria to destroy an important class of antibiotics including penicillin and carbapenems before they can do their work. This is an issue of global concern because drugs such as carbapenems are often used as antibiotics of last resort. Zowawi is also developing a second test that will identify a family of bacteria that is particularly prone to developing antibiotic resistance. Both tests require highly specialized scientific equipment.
Zowawi is particularly interested in how superbugs are spreading through the Gulf states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates). In many of these states, poor prescription practices and the fact that antibiotics are sold freely over the counter mean that many people either take the wrong antibiotics, or take them when they are unnecessary, such as for viral infections. This misuse of antibiotics fuels bacterial resistance greatly, which is why a key component of Zowawi’s project involves raising awareness of the issue. “In the Gulf, some hospitals train doctors on antibiotic resistance, but there is very little information given to the public.”
Since antibiotic-resistant bacteria can easily cross borders with people or animals, it was important for Zowawi to establish a region-wide system for monitoring antibiotic resistance. Unfortunately, many Middle-Eastern countries are unaccustomed to extensive cross-border collaboration. As Zowawi’s Ph.D kept him busy in Brisbane, establishing a network meant “long days and nights in front of my computer, firing off endless emails, convincing hospitals to take part”. The effort has paid off, and Zowawi now has a collaborative network of seven Gulf-region hospitals that have
agreed to share data about antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The campaign – the first region-wide Gulf effort of its kind – will include educational documentaries, flyers and infographics, and will make use of social-media platforms such as Twitter and YouTube.
Zowawi is also consulting media experts to produce content for television, radio, and newspapers.
Communicating information about science only works well when it adapts to cultural and social mores, says Zowawi. “The beauty of our campaign is that it has a local perspective and not a
Western one. The data and case studies all come from our research in the Gulf countries. This will help people really identify with the issues.”
Profile: Hosam Zowawi, born on 15 August 1984, is a scientific entrepreneur with a social conscience. While he has to make frequent flights between the Middle East and Australia he feels the hard work is entirely worth it. “I feel a responsibility to work on antibiotic resistance because of the frightening things I see on a daily basis in the lab.”
Although Zowawi left Saudi Arabia with his family to pursue postgraduate studies in clinical microbiology and infectious diseases in Australia (on a full academic scholarship from the government of Saudi Arabia), he remains firmly rooted in his home country. Since 2007, he has been a microbiology teaching assistant at the College of Medicine, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, in Riyadh. Zowawi sees his future in Saudi Arabia. After completing his Ph.D and subsequent postdoctoral work, he envisions that he will eventually return to Saudi Arabia to run a research laboratory and biotechnology company, undertaking rapid testing. He intends to practise as a clinical microbiologist and teach students.
Zowawi is dedicated to public engagement and believes that better communication about scientific issues could transform health-care in the Gulf states. He takes a broad-based approach to raising awareness about antibiotic resistance because he wants to get his message across in any way he can – from offering iPads as prizes in competitions that test the public’s knowledge about antibiotic resistance, to promoting awareness at sports events, such as polo tournaments.
A keen polo player himself, Zowawi is currently planning a team name for an upcoming match. “Superbug Slayers” is top of his list.
This blog post was compiled from materials provided by Rolex.
David Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.
He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.
Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship.