Nat Geo funds Korean explorers

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Nat Geo funds Korean explorers


The National Geographic Foundation for Science and Exploration in Asia held a press conference on Monday in Seoul after designating the first batch of recipients for its grants. From left: Jay Lee, executive director of the National Geographic Foundation for Science and Exploration in Asia; David Schacht, vice president of regional programs at the National Geographic Society; Terry Garcia, chief science and exploration officer; and John Francis, vice president for research, conservation and exploration. [SEO JI-EUN]

The National Geographic Foundation for Science and Exploration in Asia on Sunday named 23 recipients from across Asia, including eight Koreans, to be awarded grants for their work as scientists, conservationists and explorers.

The grantees were picked from 189 applicants at an inaugural meeting of the nonprofit foundation, four months after the regional grant-making office was launched in Seoul.

The foundation did not elaborate on the specific topics and names of the recipients, but young explorers accounted for the biggest portion of the 23 at eight, followed by seven researchers, six conservationists and two explorers by category.

“We began to decentralize the grant program with the establishment of the foundation,” said Terry Garcia, chief science and exploration officer at the National Geographic Society, during a press conference in Seoul on Monday. “We hope to find and nurture new talent, provide financial support and platforms for both new and established scientists. We are very encouraged by the outcome of the meeting yesterday.”

He also stressed that while most people recognize National Geographic as a magazine and a TV channel, the foundation is a nonprofit organization established for the purpose of “filling in the blank spaces on the map and in human knowledge.”

National Geographic has awarded almost 12,000 grants since 1888 in various fields from anthropology and archeology to astronomy, conservation, paleontology, oceanography and many more. But Asians have received fewer than 100, and the foundation intends to boost that number.

The launch of the Seoul office, led by executive director Jay Lee, was made possible with initial support from C Program, a Korean philanthropic group consisting of five first-generation start-up founders. The program, whose members include billionaire Kakao founder Kim Beom-su and NCsoft CEO Kim Taek-jin, has promised to donate 1 billion won ($854,000) a year over the next five years.

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