This year's class of explorers include Salam Al Kuntar, an archaeologist who is working hard to protect important sites inside Syria, Leslie Dawn, a nuclear scientists working on improving the way reactors function, and Innocent Mburanumwe, a ranger who protects the extremely endangered gorillas in the Virunga National Park of Democratic Republic of the Congo. They're joined on the list by wildlife conservationists, medical engineers, a biophysicist, and a number of other extremely bright men and women.
In total, there are 14 men and and women who have received the distinction of being named an Emerging Explorer this year. Their interests and passions vary greatly, but they all hold a common trait in that they are trying to make the world a better place in some way or another. One has helped create the largest shark sanctuary on the planet, while another is attempting to stamp out illegal trafficking of wildlife. Still others are focused on preventing climate change, exploring the human mind, or preventing the spread of disease. These are the new explorers for the 21st century, and their work is as vital and important as ever.
To find out more about these men and women, check out Nat Geo's Emerging Explorers page, and watch the video below.