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2019-2020 National Geographic Storytelling Fellows Announced

Today, the National Geographic Society is pleased to announce the selection of the 2019-2020 National Geographic Storytelling Fellows.

These fellows, nominated by a global panel of experts and selected by a committee at the National Geographic Society, represent the fields of photography, technology, film, art and journalism. These five fellows comprise the second cohort to receive this fellowship.

“I am beyond excited to announce the National Geographic Society’s second group of storytelling fellows,” said Kaitlin Yarnall, National Geographic Society’s chief storytelling officer. “For 131 years, National Geographic has explored and documented the world and its people. Whether through journalism, photos, data visualization or film, each of these fellows will play a critical role in illuminating the issues our planet is facing today.”

Each of the fellows will receive up to $170,000 in support from the Society to focus on five unique projects over one year using different storytelling mediums.

The 2019-2020 National Geographic Storytelling Fellows

Gautam Shah

Gautam is the founder of Internet of Elephants, a social enterprise that develops groundbreaking digital tools to engage people with wildlife and conservation. Through this work, Gautam tells the stories of individual animals studied by conservation organizations and individuals from around the world.

Gautam’s project will introduce gamification to data visualization to create a new approach to the field that brings users closer to the story. This project will explore issues at the center of the National Geographic Society’s work to achieve a planet in balance.

Maya Lin

Maya is an artist and environmentalist whose artworks focus attention on the natural world, exploring how we experience and relate to landscapes by setting up a systematic ordering of the land that is tied to history, memory, time and language. In 2009, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts, and in 2016 she was awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Maya’s storytelling project will help enhance her platform, What Is Missing?, to be an intuitive, interactive map that creates, through science-based artworks, an awareness about species extinction and loss of habitat and emphasizes the need for protection and restoration of our forests, grasslands and wetlands, to both protect species and reduce emissions at the same time.

Sandesh Kadur

Sandesh is a wildlife filmmaker and photographer who uses photographs, videos and documentaries to reveal places and species that need protection. His work spans cloud forests and endangered sea turtles in Mexico; rainforests and king cobras in India; and orphaned clouded leopards being rehabilitated back to the Himalayan jungle.

Sandesh’s storytelling project will explore a Beyul that borders India and Tibet with the goal of discovering new floral and faunal species. Throughout the project, Sandesh will highlight the interconnectedness of cultures to their ecosystems and the importance of trans-boundary conservation to showcase the need to preserve the last Beyuls.

Davide Monteleone

Davide is a photographer who is devoted to studying social issues, specifically exploring the relation between power and individuals. His work has received numerous awards, including several World Press Photo prizes, and grants such as the Aftermath Project grant, European Publishers Award and Carmignac Photojournalism Award.

Davide’s project will document China’s expanding presence around the world under its flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Through longform photographic storytelling, he will capture notable social and environmental aspects of the BRI.

Hannah Nordhaus

Hannah is a journalist and author who writes about history, science and the natural world. She has covered subjects such as contested public lands in the American West, besieged beekeepers and federal wildlife crime investigators. She is the author or two national best-selling books.

Hannah’s storytelling project will document the search for “lost species”: animals that have gone unseen for decades but have not yet been declared extinct. She plans to follow research teams in Central Asia, northern Colombia, the Himalayan foothills and the Galápagos as they seek to find and support some of the world’s most elusive “Cinderella” species.

You can hear more from this year’s recipients at the 2019 National Geographic Explorers Festival June 11-13. Go to to livestream their panels and learn more about the other discussions happening at this year’s event.

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About The National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 15,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content.

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