Press Release

The National Geographic Society Announces the Recipients of the 2024 Wayfinder Award Presented by Kia

The awards name 15 new National Geographic Explorers for their local and global contributions that push boundaries

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 6, 2024) — Today, the National Geographic Society announced 15 newly named National Geographic Explorers as recipients of the 2024 Wayfinder Award presented by Kia. From an Indigenous ecologist working to restore the American bison on tribal lands to a photographer telling the critical stories of polar research, the 2024 recipients are recognized for pushing the boundaries in science, conservation, education, technology and storytelling — all to propel the Society’s mission forward of illuminating and protecting the wonder of our world.

“These individuals have proven themselves as the next generation of influential leaders and innovators, and we are thrilled to recognize them for their groundbreaking work across a diverse range of impact-driven projects,” said Alex Moen, chief explorer engagement officer at the National Geographic Society. “This remarkable cohort is tackling critical issues around our world in unique ways, collectively powered by a shared mission to educate, engage and mobilize a global community.”

Kia’s philanthropic support of this year’s awards aligns with their Accelerate the Good charitable initiative, which has provided more than $22 million to support global impact for good, and demonstrates their ongoing commitment to fund changemakers advancing sustainability around the world.

In addition to joining the Society’s global community of National Geographic Explorers, each award recipient receives a monetary prize to support their work. They are also recognized and celebrated at the Society’s annual Explorers Festival in Washington, D.C. This award is part of the Society’s Wayfinder Program, which offers each awardee a unique opportunity to apply for funding for their next big idea.

Meet the recipients of the 2024 Wayfinder Award presented by Kia:

Badru “Mwezi” Mugerwa; Conservationist; Uganda

Badru “Mwezi” Mugerwa is a Ugandan conservationist working with local communities to research and protect the African golden cat.

Bohdan Prots; Conservation Ecologist; Ukraine

Bohdan Prots is a conservation biologist and nature defender who has helped establish protected areas, restore nature and combat the illegal use of natural resources in Ukraine.

Dina Buchbinder Auron; Social Entrepreneur; Mexico

Dina Buchbinder is a social entrepreneur who uses the power of play to revolutionize education around the world.

Esther Horvath; Photographer and Science Communicator; Hungary

Esther Horvath is a photographer documenting polar climate research and scientific expeditions with a focus on the work and lives of scientists who deliver crucial climate data for humanity.

Jason Baldes; Indigenous Ecologist; Eastern Shoshone and United States

Jason Baldes is an Indigenous community leader and environmental management expert facilitating the restoration of the American bison on tribal lands.

Kerllen Costa; Ethnobiologist and Environmental Anthropologist; Angola

Kerllen Costa is an environmental anthropologist & ethnobiologist who combines science and traditional knowledge to preserve Angola’s natural and cultural heritage.

Kristi Williams; Community Advocate; United States

Kristi Williams is a community advocate from Oklahoma championing Black history and voices in public education.

Liz Bonnin; Natural History and Environmental Broadcaster; France and United Kingdom

Liz Bonnin is a science, wildlife and environmental broadcaster who leverages television, documentary film, and podcasts to highlight the need for a healthy planet.

Nancy Iraba; Marine Scientist; Tanzania

Nancy Iraba is a Tanzanian marine scientist and researcher pioneering coral restoration efforts in degraded reef zones near the southern coast of Tanzania.

Reyhaneh Maktoufi; Science Communicator; Iran and United States

Reyhaneh Maktoufi is a social science researcher and communicator tackling misinformation and building trust in scientists through her training workshops, videos, comics, and series.

Rinzin Phunjok Lama; Conservation Biologist; Nepal

Rinzin Phunjok Lama is a conservation biologist and member of Nyinba Indigenous community in Nepal researching trans-Himalayan biodiversity with a special focus on the snow leopard.

Rowena Mouda; Native Title Leader; Australia

Rowena Mouda is an Aboriginal leader supporting Indigenous communities as they reclaim access and stewardship of their ancestral marine areas.

Suaad Al Harthi; Conservation Scientist; Oman

Suaad Al Harthi is an Emirati conservationist based in Oman advocating for the protection of Oman’s marine and terrestrial biodiversity through research, education, and awareness raising initiatives.

Tony Wu; Photo-naturalist; Japan

Tony Wu is a wildlife photographer who uses his art to interpret and communicate on behalf of the underwater world.

Tracy Drain; Systems Engineer; United States

Tracy Drain is a systems engineer who develops and operates robotic spacecraft exploring the mysteries of deep space.

Media Contact

General Media Contact
If you are a member of the media with an inquiry or interview request, please call during regular business hours or email
(202) 857 7027
Chris Fisne
Specialist, PR & Media Relations, Strategic Communications
Back to Top
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.

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