National Geographic to host free exploration lecture at U-M

September 18, 2013
Jim Erickson,
Kelsey Flora, National Geographic, (202) 828-8023, or Daniel Madaj, University of Michigan, (734) 763-4190, or Jim Erickson, University of Michigan, (734) 647-1842,

William Saturno. Image credit: Jaime SaturnoWilliam Saturno. Image credit: Jaime SaturnoANN ARBOR—National Geographic and the University of Michigan will present a free public lecture Friday, Sept. 27, about field research and exploration, featuring Mayan archaeologist William Saturno and climber Mark Synnott.

The 7 p.m. lecture (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) will take place at U-M’s Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre. John Francis, National Geographic’s vice president of research, conservation and exploration, will also speak.

Saturno, a recipient of multiple grants from National Geographic, is credited with discovering the oldest intact murals ever found in the Mayan world. He will detail his recent archaeological discoveries in Guatemala and discuss his decades-long research into the ongoing mysteries of the enigmatic Maya.

Mark Synnott. Image credit: JaredOgdenMark Synnott. Image credit: JaredOgdenSynnott, an accomplished big wall and alpine climber who has appeared in National Geographic magazine, will share highlights from his sailing and climbing expedition around Oman’s Musandam Peninsula. Synnott is a The North Face athlete whose climbing has taken him on more than 25 expeditions around the world, netting him multiple first ascents.

Francis, a marine biologist, will discuss his role at National Geographic and the organization’s support of exploration around the globe for the past 125 years through more than 10,000 grants.

Friday night’s event will precede a daylong workshop on Saturday, Sept. 28, aimed at aspiring scientists between 18 and 25 wishing to pursue research-, exploration- and conservation-based field projects supported by National Geographic’s Young Explorers Grants Program. The workshop will enable students to pitch ideas for field projects and to meet with recent grant recipients as well as National Geographic staff, explorers, conservationists and researchers.

The workshop is free for students, including breakfast and lunch. Details and registration information:

“The National Geographic Society has spent the last 125 years nurturing scientists, conservationists, researchers and explorers from around the world, and for our 125th anniversary we are celebrating what we are calling a ‘New Age of Exploration,'” Francis said. “The society’s presence at the University of Michigan gives us a chance to share some of our successes as well as recruit some of the smartest, up-and-coming minds who might be that future of exploration.”

“As one of the nation’s premiere research universities, the University of Michigan is pleased to host National Geographic’s Young Explorers Grants Program, helping to inspire the next generation of scientists and explorers,” said Stephen Forrest, U-M vice president for research.

The Sept. 28 workshop is presented with support from the National Geographic Society, Lucy and Henry Billingsley, the Brinson Foundation, the Luce Foundation and The North Face. In addition, it is sponsored by several U-M units: the Center for Engineering Diversity and Outreach; the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; the departments of anthropology, astronomy, earth and environmental sciences, and ecology and evolutionary biology; the Museum of Natural History; the Office of the Associate Dean for the Natural Sciences; the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education; the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program; the School of Natural Resources and the Environment; and the Women in Science and Engineering Program.