Press Release

Meet the 2023 Fulbright-National Geographic Award Recipients

This year’s Explorers are working at the intersection of climate, research and storytelling across Asia, Latin America and Europe

Washington, D.C., August 30, 2023 — The National Geographic Society and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announced today the recipients of the 2023 Fulbright-National Geographic Award.

Chosen through a merit-based and highly competitive process, these 2023 Fulbright-National Geographic Award recipients — who were selected for Fulbright awards of an academic year in length and have been simultaneously named National Geographic Explorers — will undertake in-depth exploration of pressing global issues, including humanity’s influence on Mexico’s tropical forests, analyzing Singapore’s government-backed systems that address food access and security, investigating Japan’s clean energy, advocating for South Korea’s climate mitigation strategies, and studying Arctic seabird foraging at a lab in Poland.

These award recipients will utilize a variety of research methods and storytelling tools to carry out their projects while receiving support and mentorship from National Geographic's global community of Explorers. These individuals will document their work through stories to be shared and amplified through National Geographic’s platforms, and act as a powerful resource in building lasting ties across cultures.

This program is an evolution of the partnership between the National Geographic Society and the U.S. Department of State that launched in 2013. Originally focused on digital storytelling, the program now supports projects across research, conservation, technology, education and storytelling.

The 2023 Fulbright-National Geographic Award recipients include:

Leonardo Calzada, Mexico

Leonardo Calzada is a Ph.D. student in geography at Rutgers University researching the interplay between human and ecological communities within tropical forests. Calzada will study the impact of the Mayan Train and Mexico's leading agroforestry policy, "Sembrando Vida" (Sowing Life), on tropical forest dynamics and local governance processes in the Yucatán Peninsula.

Jenny Dorsey, Singapore

Jenny Dorsey is a professional chef, author, and speaker working at the intersection of food, identity, and social justice who will analyze Singapore’s two government-backed systems that address food access and security. Dorsey will study the impact of government interventions within two institutions, hawker centers and wet markets, and how they have influenced business outcomes for their vendors and food security for local residents.

Rachel Herring, Japan

Rachel Herring is a member of the Choctaw Nation and an interdisciplinary creator investigating what a clean energy transition looks like in rural Japan. Through her research focusing on genkai shūraku, or marginalized rural communities, Herring aims to contribute to clean energy policies that protect and integrate both traditional culture and Indigenous knowledge.

Daun Lee, South Korea

Daun Lee is a sustainability consultant based in Boston, Massachusetts who advocates for equitable, holistic climate mitigation strategies. Lee will research the social impact of converting agricultural lands to solar farms on Jeju Island, South Korea, uncovering the cultural and heritage value disruptions which farmers are facing due to the nation's greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Jacob Ligorria, Poland

Jacob Ligorria is an ecologist studying seabirds as a means to learn about marine ecosystems and inform research-based conservation programs that benefit humans and wildlife alike. Ligorria will travel to Poland to investigate what adult dovekies (diving seabirds known as “little auks” who feed on plankton) are feeding their chicks and tracing where they forage in the changing Arctic ecosystem.

About the Fulbright Program

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. Department of State’s flagship international educational exchange program. Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided over 400,000 accomplished students, scholars, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach, and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to complex global challenges. The Fulbright-National Geographic Award launched in 2013 as a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the National Geographic Society. For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State, please visit or contact the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Press Office by e-mail:

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About 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. To learn more, visit or follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.