Noted photographer James Blair to speak at May 17 dinner

James Blair, who was a National Geographic Magazine staff photographer from 1962  through 1994 will speak at the Explorers Club Washington Group dinner at the Cosmos Club on Saturday, May 17.

The National Geographic published more than 45 of his stories,  including major coverages of Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Ethiopia, West Africa, Iran, Russia, and Greece, and various parts of the United States, as well as articles on agriculture, coal, astronomy, and uses of photography in science.

He covered southeast China for the book Journey Into China, published in 1982. He was the chief photographer for the National Geographic book on environment,As We Live and Breathe, and then continued his special interest in the environment with coverage of the disappearing rain forest, environmental pollution, and World Heritage sites.

In 1977, as a result of his coverage of South Africa, Blair was made a Poynter Fellow at Yale University. He also received the Overseas Press Club of America Award for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad for this coverage.

Blair has received numerous awards for other coverage from the National Press Photographers Association and the White House News Photographers Association.Since retiring from the National Geographic Society in 1994, Blair continues to photograph and teach.

The evening will begin with a cocktail hour at 6 p.m. Diners cost $60 per person.

Reservations must be received bynoon, Tusday, May 13 by  Bill Runyon, 1812 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009, 202 234-7490, bill.runyon@verizon.net

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Luncheon honored pioneer hurricane scientist Bob Simpson

The Explorers Club Washington Group honored the legendary hurricane scientist and forecaster Bob Simpson, FE’79, who celebrated his 101th birthday last November, with a luncheon at the Cosmos Club on Saturday, March 8, 2014

Bob Simpson at the Dec. 7, 2013 ECWG annual dinner. Photo by Darlene Shields

Bob Ryan who was chief meteorologist for 30 years at NBC4 and then for three years at WJLA (ABC7),  described the highlights of Simpson’s career with the help of a few others who worked with Bob and his wife, Joanne, also a leading atmospheric scientist, who died in 2010.

Those taking part included Neil Frank, who succeeded Bob Simpson as director of the National Hurricane Center in 1973 and retired in 1987, Max Mayfield who was HNC director from 2000 to 2007, Richard Anthes, who was president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research from 1988 to 2012 and who worked closely with both Bob and Joanne Simpson, and David Atlas, a weather radar pioneer.

In addition to the talks, Barbara Schoeberl, a NASA co-worker with Joanne Simpson and long-time friend of the Simpson family, displayed posters illustrating several aspects of the lives of Bob and Joanne Simpson and also a video slide show of the Simpsons’ lives and carers that attendees viewed before and after the program.

Bob Simpson with (from left) Neil Frank, Jack Williams, Max Mayfield, David Atlas. Photo by Darlene Shields

In the mid-1950s after Congress decided the U.S. desperately needed to learn more about hurricanes, the Weather Bureau selected Bob to organize and run the National Hurricane Research Project, which
 continues today as NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division.

The core of this project was research flights into hurricanes, which Bob had been urging, and which continue today.

Joanne Malkus, who was
 conducting pioneering tropical weather research, was asked to work with the program. Bob said in 2009 that this “scientific association and collaboration with Joanne… melded into a personal relationship culminating in our marriage in January 1965 and the beginning of a long, happy, and fruitful life together.”

Bob Simpson was director of the National Hurricane Center in 1969 when Hurricane Camille hit Mississippi. His use of a then-new storm surge forecasting model to issue unusually urgent warnings is credited with saving hundreds of lives. It also helped lead him and Herbert Saffir, a wind damage expert, to develop the Saffir- Simpson Hurricane Damage Scale with its well- known one though five categories.Washington Post story on Bob Simpson Luncheon

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ECWG accepting applications for graduate student grants

The Explorers Club Washington Group’s Exploration and Field Research Grants Program is accepting applications for 2014 graduate student grants

The program  was established to encourage young men and women to add to the body of knowledge of the earth, its people and the universe through exploration and field research. Examples of disciplines appropriate for support are anthropology, archaeology, ecology, entomology, botany, linguistics, ornithology, geography, ichthyology, geology, oceanography, glaciology, and similar disciplines.

Grants are available to graduate students who are enrolled in a college or university in the local area (Washington, DC; Virginia; West Virginia; Maryland) and who are under the supervision of a qualified scientist or educator.

The activity may occur anywhere in the world. It should be emphasized that that those expeditions supported will be for scientific purposes, in accordance with the Explorers Club’s stated objective, “to broaden our knowledge of the universe”.

To apply you must complete the form linked below, either the Word or PEF version, and email it to the address on the form.

Word document:  ECWG Grants_Application_2014

PDF document:  ECWG Grants_Application_2014

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ECWG Graduate Student Grants History

The Explorers Club Washington Group has been offering Exploration and Field Research Grants to graduate students since 1997.

The ECWG is now accepting applications for 2012 grants.

Locations where ECWG grant winners have conducted research

The program’s goal is to encourage young men and women to add to the body of knowledge of the earth, its people and the universe through exploration and field research. Examples of disciplines appropriate for support are anthropology, archaeology, ecology, entomology, botany, linguistics, ornithology, geography, ichthyology, geology, oceanography, glaciology, and similar disciplines.

Grants are available to graduate students who are enrolled in a college or university in the local area (Washington, DC; Virginia; West Virginia; Maryland) and who are under the supervision of a qualified scientist or educator. The activity may occur anywhere in the world. It should be emphasized that that those expeditions supported will be for scientific purposes, in accordance with the Explorers Club’s stated objective, “to broaden our knowledge of the universe”. Continue reading

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News Briefs: 4th Quarter 2010

Dr. Craig Cook MN ’01 was the diving medical officer and physician on a flag expedition to Antarctica which documented land and marine wildlife.  The team traced the route of Shackleton’s epic escape to South Georgia Island and attempted to reach the approximate location of the wreck of the Antarctic.

Sarah Yeomans FN ’07 recently completed a field research season examining Biblical-era sites in the West Bank and at Bethsaida in the Golan Heights, excavating a Bronze Age town associated with several New Testament references. She also completed a southwestern Turkish survey of evidence for ancient medical technology from the Greek and Roman eras.  Her findings were presented at invited lectures at the Huntington Library and Museum in California and in Amman, Jordan, the latter at the invitation of the Young President’s Organization.

Dr. Polly Penhale FN ’91 and ECWG chair, was a member of the US Delegation to the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), participating in the annual treaty meeting in Hobart, Tasmania. She was named Co-Convener of the 2011 CCAMLR Workshop on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to establish a system of  MPAs in the Southern Ocean.  Dr. Penhale will receive the 2011 Quadrennial Finn Ronne Award for her accomplishments in polar research.

Piotr Chmielinski FN ’98 was featured in a National Geographic Society digital media article about his group whitewater trip on the Gauley River.  Considered by many to be the best whitewater rapids on the East Coast, this West Virginia river drops more than 668 feet through 28 miles of rugged terrain with more than 100 rapids of technical runs.

Dr. Michael Manyak MED ’92 and Col. Don Morley MN ’90 traveled 800 miles into the Gobi Desert to join 2010 Lowell Thomas Awardee John Hare and rode camels with him for two days at the Wild Camel Reserve in Mongolia.  The wild camel is just now recognized as a separate species whose ancestors split from the camel evolutionary line 700,000 years ago, long before the common ancestor of the domesticated Bactrian and Dromedary.  The breeding station established by John Hare is attempting to preserve this very highly endangered animal which numbers less than 1000 in two remote areas of Mongolia and China.

The ECWG had an active fall season of monthly meetings with interesting speakers.

  • Dr. Hans-Dieter Sues FN ’09, Senior Scientist and Curator in the Department of Paleobiology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, presented the results of 10 years of fossil collection by an international team he headed in Uzbekistan.  Dr. Sues is an internationally-renowned dinosaur expert and this effort has yielded many new dinosaur species.
  • Dr. Michael Manyak shared his experiences about medical risks in remote areas of Central African jungles, the deepest canyon in the world, the North Atlantic, Mongolia, and Antarctica.
  • Dr. Thomas King FN ’02 gave the details of five expeditions to Nikumaroro in the Phoenix Islands in search of the remains of Amelia Earhart.  He is the senior archaeologist for The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR).

Lastly, and very importantly, the ECWG welcomes the following new members: Jack M. Curran SM ‘05, Benedicte Valentiner MN ‘10, Tyler A. Lystash SM ‘10, Amy M. Putnam SM ‘10, and Carl Pechman MN ’81.

Andrew Alexander, The Washington Post’s ombudsman, noted the work of the company headed by Curt J. Westergard, MN09, in his Nov. 5 column about estimates of attendance at big events on the National Mall. Full story.

The New York Times published a talk by reporter Claudia Dreifus with ECWG member Jane Goodall MED 93 in its Nov. 15, 2010 editions.  The story is online with a photo of Goodall.

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News briefs: 3rd Quarter 2010

Two ECWG members participated in the 2010 Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree July 26-Aug. 4 at Fort A.P. Hill near Bowling Green, VA.

Membership director Robert Atwater LF ’05 was selected to be President Obama’s escort during the 100th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America at the Jamboree. However, when the president declined to attend, Bob was consoled by becoming the escort for both the Baltimore Ravens Cheerleaders and for Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel’s Dirtiest Jobs. Continue reading

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News Briefs: 2nd Quarter 2010

Meredith Muth and Sarah Yukich, two graduate students who were aided by Explorers Club Washington Group Exploration and Field Research Grants, described their work at the ECWG’s annual students dinner on April 17 at the Cosmos Club in Washington.  Full story

Jason Paterniti, MN’10, carried Explorers Club Flag 24 on a February 2010 expedition to the Cochamo Valley region of Chile to identify previously undocumented stands of the endangered Alerce tree (Fitzroya Cupressoides). Full story. Continue reading

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Archaeologist discusses ancient medicine

Sarah K. Yeomans FN ’07 spoke on “Medicine in the Ancient World: What we have learned from archaeology” at The Explorers Club Washington Group dinner at the Cosmos Club on Saturday Feb. 12, 2011.

Sarah Yeomans, speaking at the ECWG dinner on Feb. 12, 2011. Photo by Darlene Shields

Life in the ancient world was risky business. The perils of war, disease, famine and childbirth are a just a few examples of circumstances that contributed to a much lower average lifespan in the ancient world than we have now.

People in antiquity were no less concerned about the prevention and cure of maladies than they are now, however, and entire cults, sanctuaries and professions dedicated to health dotted the spiritual, physical and professional landscapes of the ancient world.

In her talk, Yeomans discussed what ancient cultures did to combat disease and injury, and noted that some of their methods are not too different from today’s.

Yeomans teaches archaeology in the University of West Virginia’s Religious Studies Program and is also Director of Education Programs for the Biblical Archaeology Society.

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March 2011 talk was on field research pioneer

ECWG member Frank R. Power MN ’93 discussed the colorful life of  Roy Chapman Andrews (1884 – 1960) during a brunch Sunday, March 6 at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Chevy Chase.

Power said that Andrews “was the 20th century’s prototypical explorer—a bold, dashing figure who braved bandits, sandstorms, shipwrecks, and other brushes with death around the world.”

William Chapman Andrews in the late 1920s. From The Explorers Club Archives

Most notably, he led five scientific expeditions for the American Museum of Natural History’s to Mongolia’s desert, the Gobi, from 1922 to 1930.

He was a pioneer of modern field research, but it was his team’s fossil discoveries that amazed the world – especially the first-ever complete nest of dinosaur eggs.

Andrews–adventurer, administrator, and Museum promoter–spent his entire career at the American Museum of Natural History, where he rose through the ranks from departmental assistant, to expedition organizer, to Museum director.

He served as President of The Explorers Club from 1931 to 1934 and was awarded the Explorers Medal in 1932.

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News Briefs 1st Quarter 2011

Robert Hyman, LF ’93 has won won fifth prize in the CR+EW category in The World’s Rarest Birds photo competition for his photo of the critically endangered Honduran Emerald Hummingbird.

Robert Hyman's prize-winning photo

His photo was one selected as a winner from among 2000 entries, in The World’s Rarest Birds Photo Competition. The competition raises awareness of the rarest birds of the world and helps support their conservation through BirdLife International’s Preventing Extinctions Program.  Hyman’s photo has also been featured in The Mail, Telegraph and Metro newspapers in London, the French publication Natures et Animaux and on National Geographic’s web site. The World’s Rarest Birds book based on the competition will be published in 2012.

Elise Larsen, who received an ECWG Exploration and Field Research Grant  in 2010, reported on her work studying changes in the Mount St. Helens bird community following the catastrophic eruption of 1980 at the April 16, 2011 Cosmos Club dinner. She is a PhD  degree candidate at the University of Maryland, working in the Fagan Lab. Full story

ECWG member Frank R. Power MN ’93 discussed the colorful life of  Roy Chapman Andrews (1884 – 1960) during a brunch Sunday, March 6 at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Chevy Chase. Full story

Wade Davis, Hon ‘87, spoke on “The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World” at the  Jan. 15, 2011 ECWG Dinner at the Cosmos Club. Full story

Sarah K. Yeomans FN ’07 spoke on “Medicine in the Ancient World: What we have learned from archaeology” at The Explorers Club Washington Group dinner at the Cosmos Club on Saturday Feb. 12, 2011.  Full story

ECWG board members elected at the ECWG annual meeting and dinner on December 4, 2010 were: Louise Burke MN ’86, Norman Cherkis FN ’91, Frank Power MN ’93, John C. Williams FN ’03, and Arnella Trent MN ’10.

Emory Kristof speaking at the December dinner. Don Gerson photo

Emory Kristof FN ’87, a highly renowned National Geographic photographer who is a pioneer in submersible and remotely operated vehicles, spoke at the December 4, 2010 dinner. He recounted his adventures as the designer of the innovative camera system and participation in the Titanic discovery and other famous historic wrecks.  He regaled the audience with tales and spectacular photos of unknown underwater animals and the deep sea hydrothermal vents discovered on his expeditions.

Dr. Hans-Dieter Sues FN ’09, Senior Scientist and Curator in the Department of Paleobiology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, received the prestigious Humboldt Research Award for 2011-2012.  Given by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to internationally renowned scientists and scholars, this award will provide support for him to concentrate on finishing research on his specialty of early Triassic dinosaurs.

Lew Toulmin MN ’04 and Robert Hyman LF ’93 were highlighted in a feature article in the September issue of Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine as co-founders of the Missing Aircraft Search Team (MAST).  The piece described the history of MAST beginning with the search for Steve Fossett MED ’92, and focusing on the recent underwater search for Gertrude Tompkins, the last missing WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) of WWII.  The piece described scientific and technological developments in the field science of search and rescue/recovery.

Lee Talbot in his red Ginnetta prepares to pass a Ford Escort to finish 2nd at Circuit Mont Tremblant, Quebec, on Sept. 25, 2010. Darlene Shields photo.

Explorers Club Medalist Dr. Lee Talbot MED ’57 received the 2010 Driver of the Year award from the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association, the premier organizer and sponsor of vintage racing.  Lee is the oldest driver in this category and has been professionally racing for 62 years.  This year he won 7 races and finished 2nd in two others.  The award is presented to the outstanding vintage racer who has achieved the goals of safety, consciousness, sportsmanship, and consistent performance.

Bob Atwater LF ’05 and Shellie Howard AN ’10 attended a week long survival course sponsored by BOSS (Boulder Outdoor Survival School) in Boulder, Utah.  This tough survival course taught creating friction fire with only sage wood, obtaining drinkable water from cow dung, sleeping through very cold nights without a tent or blankets, and many other related survival techniques.  Fortunately they both made it back and are still speaking to each other!


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ECWG members, guests meet a cheetah

Members of the ECWG and their guests met a cheetah cub, at the May 14, 2011 reception and cocktail hour before enjoying dinner and then hearing Dr. Laurie Marker, FI ’06, the Founder and Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, discuss her  work to save cheetahs from extinction.

'Nice kitty.' Jacob the cheetah cub. Photo by Darlene Shields

Attendees had their photos taken with Jacob, the cheetah cub, on the patio outside the Powell Auditorium at the Cosmos Club during the pre-dinner reception and cocktail hour

Throughout the reception and dinner, members and guests viewed spectacular cheetah photographs on the Powell Auditorium’s large screen. The photos were by Suzi Eszterhas and Chris Johns, editor-in-chief of the National Geographic. The images were selected by James Blair (FN ’09) and Gary Kopff (MN ’91).

The dinner was held in conjunction with the Cosmos Club’s Natural Resources Group.

In her talk Marker discussed her work with cheetahs since 1974. She set up the not-for-profit Fund in 1990 and moved to Namibia to develop a permanent Conservation Research Centre for the wild cheetah. The Centre’s work includes a focus on mitigating conflict between people and wildlife in African countries, with a special emphasis on the cheetah.

She was raised in a suburb of Los Angeles, where her father, trained as an agricultural economist, worked in the aerospace industry and kept horses, rabbits and other animals in the backyard. Marker went to San Francisco State University to study psychology, then transferred to Napa Valley College to learn winemaking.

She left college in 1972 to start a vineyard with her husband in Winston, Oregon. To help bankroll the venture, Marker worked at an animal park called Wildlife Safari. The sum total of what was then known about cheetahs at Wildlife Safari was that they were fascinating, standoffish and virtually impossible to breed.

Laurie Marker at the Cosmos Club. Photo by Darlene Shields

Captivated, Marker started to ask questions, read books and conduct research about the animals. In 2002, at 48, she earned a PhD from Oxford University. Her dissertation, Aspects of Cheetah [Acinonyx jubatus] Biology, Ecology and Conservation Strategies on Namibian Farmlands, is considered the last word on cheetahs.

Marker has also assisted in developing cheetah conservation programs in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Algeria, and Iran, as well as supporting a field research base in Kenya. Marker is considered the world’s preeminent cheetah specialist. If the cheetah species is restored from the brink of extinction, it will undoubtedly be due to the life’s work of Dr. Marker and the Cheetah Conservation Fund.

In the 1980s, with collaborators at the National Zoo and the National Cancer Institute, she helped identify cheetah’s exceptionally homogeneous DNA that causes one of the species great problems for survival.

Her awards and global recognition include: The 2010 Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Award, a Time Magazine “Heroes for the Planet” (2000), the Gold Medal Award from the Society of Woman Geographers (2008), the Conservation Medal of Lifetime Achievement Award from the Zoological Society of San Diego (2008), Intel Environmental Laureate (2008), and the Tyler Prize Laureate for the Environment (2010).

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Talk on recovery of Mt. St. Helens birds

Elise Larsen, who received an ECWG Exploration and Field Research Grant  in 2010, reported on her work studying changes in the Mount St. Helens bird community following the catastrophic eruption of 1980 at the April 16, 2011 Cosmos Club dinner. She is a PhD  degree candidate at the University of Maryland, working in the Fagan Lab.

Elise Larsen on Mt. St. Helens. ©by the Fagan Lab

Bill Fagan, the Lab’s head and major professor for Larsen’s research, described the work of his lab, which includes spatial ecology, with an exploration of how landscape patchiness can influence population and community dynamics. The goal is to understand how spatial effects influence the assembly, collapse, and functioning of ecological systems.

Fagan and his students have conducted field work in the Eastern Steppes of Mongolia, the Antarctic Peninsula, and the starkly beautiful Pumice Plains of Mt. St. Helens, Washington. The research conducted by Dr. Fagan’s team helps to solve real-world conservation problems in the context of ecological theory.

Bill Fagan. ©by the Fagan Lab

Each April the ECWG invites young explorers who have received one of our student grants to report on their field research. Dr. Fagan’s students have received ECWG awards over the years, including Christina Kennedy and Sara Zeigler, our 2009 student speakers.

Larsen’s research involves field studies and models to study how humans and natural disturbances can affect animal population and community dynamics. Elise has previously studied how the MidAtlantic Bird  community responded to urbanization and has worked in the Antarctic Peninsula region to survey penguin and seabird populations.

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News briefs 2nd quarter 2011

Robert E. Hyman LF ‘93 and Mark Bonta, a professor at Delta State University in Mississippi who is an author with 20 years experience in the region, led the April 7-22, 2011 Honduran Biodiversity Expedition, which carried Explorers Club Flag #93. Lew Toulmin Ph.D. MN ‘04 helped plan the expedition but could not go. The expedition recorded 206 bird species, and the herpetologist team collected 68 samples. The expedition also collected 60 plant species.  It explored several national parks and proposed protected areas, as well as a major archaeological site, all located in the(municipality of Gualaco.

Robert Hyman, right, with members of the Honduran Biodiversity Expedition.

Members of the ECWG and their guests met a cheetah cub at the May 14, 2011 reception and cocktail hour before enjoying dinner and then hearing Dr. Laurie Marker, FI ’06, the Founder and Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, discuss her  work to save cheetahs from extinction. Read the complete story.

The Explorers Club Washington Group has awarded a total of $17,840 in Exploration and Field Research Grants to eight graduate students. The grants are intended to provide supplemental funds to support fieldwork or closely related endeavors, and generally range from one to several thousand dollars. While the awards are small, former grantees have successfully used their awards to collect preliminary data leading to other awards or to augment support for items not covered elsewhere. List of awardees.

ECWG member Jason Paterniti MN’ 10 and Dr Edward Harris FI ’99, the executive director of the National Museum of Bermuda, will be carrying an Explorers Club flag to Bermuda for the 2011 Warwick Project in June and July, 2011. The Warwick, which was on its way to the Jamestown, Virginia, colony, sunk on Oct. 20, 1619,  at its anchorage in Castle Harbour, Bermuda, during a hurricane. More about the project on the Global Exploration & Oceanographic Society Web site. Paterniti the Society’s president.

Dr. Craig Cook MN ’01 was medical director and diver in a multi-institutional research flag expedition to the central equatorial pacific Northern Line Islands to evaluate the health of coral reef and marine ecosystems. Of particular interest were large shark populations and evidence that iron from old shipwrecks adversely impacts coral growth.

Marilyn Engle FN ’03 took a flag to study human health impacts of mercury emissions from gold refining shops in two regions of Peru, the Amazon and high altitude locations.  Mining accounts for about 30% of all human-related mercury release.

Dr. Lee Talbot MED ’57 and Marty Talbot FN ’04 explored the remote, roadless and little known Nam Theun watershed in the high Annamite Mountains of central Laos.  At the behest of the Lao Government and World Bank, this flag expedition surveyed a mostly unknown remote forest and grassland area, gained important information about rare or threatened wildlife, and demonstrated that Vietnamese poachers have free reign in the area.

Robert Atwater LF ’05 took a flag with other Club members Josh Bernstein FR ’04 and Curt Bowen FN ’11 to the Yucatan which located Mayan pottery and human remains after diving in over 50 cenotes.  Bob also went with Shellie Howard AN ’10 and Idee Belau AN ’10 and a team of explorers led by Jim Thompson FN ’05 to the Mojave Desert to conduct surveys of ancient lava tubes for a NASA Mars project near the town of Baker.  For all of his activities, Bob  was elected to the Board of Directors of the Institute for Nautical Archaeology (INA) located at Texas A & M.

J. J. Kelley SM ’07 released his documentary of paddling homemade wooden boats down the 1300 mile Inside Passage from Alaska to Seattle with a friend.  Featured previously on PBS via National Geographic’s Wild Chronicles, Kelley’s film features unusual encounters with unexpected marine life.

Two ECWG members  received some of Explorers Club’s highest awards at the EC Annual Dinner in March.  Dr. Wade Davis HON ’87, anthropologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, received the 2011 Explorers Medal in recognition for his lifetime work with the world’s indigenous cultures.  Dr. Polly Penhale FN ’91 received the 2011 Quadrennial Finn Ronne Award for her lifetime accomplishments in polar research.

Other activities of note include: Dr. Joyce M. Johnson FN’03 recently returned from Secundi-Takoradi, Ghana where she provided volunteer medical care in a public mental health clinic and developed a curriculum for diagnosis and management.  A photo of the critically endangered Honduran Emerald Hummingbird by Robert Hyman LF ’93 was one of the winners in The World’s Rarest Birds Photo Competition which supports their conservation.  The World’s Rarest Birds book based on the competition will be published in 2012.

James Q. Tierney-Holly FE ‘61 reached his fifty year membership milestone this year.  The ECWG now has 8 members in this rarified circle.

New members of the ECWG are:  Bridget Baudinet SM ‘11, Katherine Comer SM ‘11, Jack Curran SM ‘05, James Delgado FN ‘97, Shellie Howard AN ’10, Venson Jordan MN ’11, Tyler Lystash SM ‘10, Carl Pechman MN ‘81, Amy Putnam SM ’10.

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June Outing at Hillwood

Members of The Explorers Club Washington Group and their guests enjoyed a summer outing at the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens on Saturday, June 25.

It included tours of the estate founded by Marjorie Merriweather Post,  an American collector and heiress to the Post cereal empire. Hillwood is one of the premier art collector’s museums in the United States.

Hillwood Estate photo

Hillwood features the most comprehensive collection of Russian imperial art outside of Russia and a world-renowned collection of eighteenth-century French decorative art and furnishings.

The collection includes Fabergé eggs, Russian porcelain, Russian Orthodox icons, Beauvais tapestries, and Sèvres porcelain. Encircled by woodlands, the twenty-five acre estate provides visitors a tranquil oasis of luscious formal gardens.

After viewing a movie about Post and the estate, one of the gardeners led a tour of the gardens that flow from the house, with walks laid out in straight axes to separate the spaces, providing respite and recreation in a tranquil setting.  Assisted by prominent landscape architects and garden designers of the time, Mrs. Post conceived of outdoor “rooms” bounded by hedges or large plantings and containing statuary, fountains, and pools as focal points.

After the garden tour, a docent guided the group through the Georgian -style mansion that features furnished rooms decorated with Post’s magnificent French and Russian collections, which number more than 16,000 objects.

After lunch, several of the explorers and their guests visited the “Belles: Bridal Fashions from the Marjorie Merriweather Post Family, 1874-1958″ exhibit.

It brings together her four wedding gowns, along with those of her mother and daughters, and examines the evolution of early 20th century wedding style through the lens of one of America’s most notable and fashionable families. Drawn mainly from the extensive costume collection left by Post to Hillwood, the exhibition also includes her daughters’ flower girl and bridesmaid dresses, and mother of the bride dresses worn by Post and her mother.  Archival photography, correspondence, and ephemera further illustrate the tradition, romance, and elegance that informed the renowned family’s nuptials

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News Briefs3rd Quarter 2011

Robert E Hyman, LF93 was the executive director on a new short documentary called “Paradise in Peril”. Paradise in Peril follows an expedition organized to document the destruction of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and collect testimony from the native peoples who rely on the Río Platáno for survival. Fewer than 400 individuals have ever completed this strenuous expedition from the rivers headwaters to the Miskito coast of Honduras.

You can view this short documentary at”  http://skyshipfilms.com/paradise-in-peril or http://vimeo.com/skyshipfilms/paradise-in-peril to see this short documentary.

Members of The Explorers Club Washington Group and their guests enjoyed a summer outing at the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens on Saturday, June 25. Full story.

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ECWG’s 2011 Fall Outing Scheduled

This year’s Explorers Club Washington Group’s annual fall outing–The Bombash–will be three days of exploring the historical treasures of southern Maryland from September 30 through October 2.

Highlights will include:

The Drum Point Lighthouse at the Calvert Marine Museum.

  • a visit to the Calvert Marine Museum on on Solomon’s Island
  • a visit to the Drum Point lighthouse
  • a sightseeing cruise on the Wm. B. Tennison, which was built as a nine-log sailing bugeye in 1899 and converted to an oyster buy-boat in 1906-07. The hour-long sightseeing cruise will be  through busy Solomons inner harbor, underneath the Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge and back to Pt. Patience and the Naval Recreation Center.
  • a walking tour of St. Mary’s City
  • a Saturday dinner talk on “The Status of Crabs in Chesapeake Bay by Dr. Thomas Miller, Director and Professor at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory
  • a tour of tthe 18th century Manor House at Sotterkey Planation
  • The Riverside WineFest at Sotterley 2011! with wine tastings; live music; local artisans with fabulous hand-crafted items for purchase; food vendors featuring such Southern Maryland specialties as crab cakes, fried oysters, stuffed ham, pit roasted meats and freshly made ice cream; exhibits, demonstrations, tours, children’s activities, and more in a breathtaking Patuxent riverside setting.

The cost will be $130 per person, which includes all of the tours, a Saturday box lunch, Saturday evening dinner, and admission to the Riverside WineFest.

Those attending need to make their own  transportation and hotel arrangements. Rooms are available at the group rate of $89.00 per night per room. including  continental breakfast, plus tax at: The Sleep Inn & Suites 23428 Three Notch Road; California, MD 20616; Phone: 301 737-0000, Fax 301 737-442

Details in the full announcement

Reservations must be made by noon on Monday, Sept. 12 with: Frank R. Power; 13208 Glen Mill Road; Rockville, MD 20850; 301 294-9377; frankrpower@aol.com

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Talk on Sharks, Tropical Paradise and Science

Craig Cook, M.D, MN 01 discussed “The Search for the Perfect Reef: Sharks, Tropical Paradise and Science” at the Explorer’s Club Washington Group’s September  17, 2011 Cosmos Club Dinner.

ECWG Chair Jay Kaplan presents Craig Cook a certificate of appreciation after his talk. Don Gerson photo

He described two scientific expeditions to the Phoenix Islands in the equatorial central Pacific that he participated in. On both scientists were studying the the world’s most remote coral reefs as part of their efforts to better understand why the world’s coral reefs are in decline.

Cook is a physician who is involved in undersea exploration and undersea medicine. As a physician he is especially interested in the mechanisms of decompression sickness and its treatment in remote locations.

He has been an active diver for more than 40 years and is a diving instructor for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). He also has technical diving certification both closed and semi- closed oxygen rebreathers. Dr. Cook is a Divers Alert Network (DAN) Instructor with multiple certifications in diving accident management. In addition, he has been a DAN referral physician for the past 15 years.


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Tour of NASA art exhibit offered

Members of the Explorers Club Washington Group are invited to take a tour of the new “NASA ART: 50 Years of Exploration” at the National Air and Space Museum at 10:30 am on Saturday, September 24.

There is no admission charge but only the first 20 people who sign up will be able to take the tour. To sign up contact Arnella Trent, 301-526-0822 or arnellat@gmail.com

Featured artists include Robert Rauschenberg, Norman Rockwell, Annie Leibovitz and Jamie Wyeth. The work shows some of the triumphs and also tragedies encountered by NASA.

The tour will be led by James Dean, founding director of the NASA Art Program and Bertram Ulrich, Curator of the NASA Art Program. It will take approximately an hour followed by an informal Dutch Treat lunch.

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News Briefs 4th Quarter 2011

The Washington DC area explorers reported a variety of activities during the last three months of 2011.

The ECWG Exploration and Field Research Grants Program announced another successful year and are awaiting this year’s applicants.  Since the initiation of the program in 1997, 94 awards totaling $152,000 have allowed graduate students enrolled in a local area college or university (DC, VA, WV, MD) to conduct pilot programs or gather data that has helped secure additional funding from such sources as the Fulbright Program, the National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian, and other sources.  Many thanks to the hard work of committee members Naval Research Laboratory geologist Dr. Joan Gardner FN ’03, National Geographic Cartography Editor Markie Hunsiker FN ’98, and National Science Foundation polar scientist Dr. Polly Penhale FN’91.

Robert Atwater meets a camel during the “Messengers of Peace” meeting in Saudi Arabia

Robert Atwater LF’05 attended the “Messengers of Peace” initiative from September 26th through October 2nd in Saudi Arabia at the invitation of HRH King Carl Gustaf of .Sweden and the Saudi royal family.  The Messengers of Peace initiative is a co-operative effort by the royal families to extend peaceful relations between all countries and religions through the programs of World Scouting.  Attendees were given extensive tours of archaeological and other historic sites near Jeddah and the northern Saudi districts including Nabatean Tombs like those at Petra, Jordan.  Bob and the other attendees are Life Fellows of the World Scout Foundation’s “Baden Powell World Fellowship!”

Dr. Richard Williams FN’03, NASA Chief Health and Medical Officer, was quoted extensively in an article in the Sept 27 Washington Post regarding a visual problem experienced by space shuttle astronauts.  The condition which causes blurred vision is probably related to increased cerebrospinal fluid pressure due to microgravity and affects about 30 percent of shuttle pilots and 60 percent of those who have stayed 6 months on the shuttle.  Gradual improvement in visual acuity usually occurs within months of return but may not be complete.

The book Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest by Dr. Wade Davis HON ’87, was reviewed in the December 4 NY Times Book Review.  This “assiduously researched” book details George Mallory’s attempted Everest ascent amid the context of the post World War I British generational devastation and the need to re-establish national pride. On Dec. 29 National Public Radio’s Morning Edition featured an interview Davis, about  You can listen to interview here. Knopf in the U.S.  and Canada, and The Bodley Head in the UK published the book that Davis worked on for more than a decade:  Davis considers it “by far the best book I have ever written,” and reviewers agree. For example: “Brilliantly engrossing. . . . A superb book. At once a group biography of remarkable characters snatched from oblivion, an instant classic of mountaineering literature, a study in imperial decline and an epic of exploration.” —Nigel Jones, The Guardian, UK.  Davis described this trip and answered questions at the ECWG Nov. 19, 2011 dinner.

Marilyn Engle FN’03 took a flag to study human health impacts of mercury emissions from gold refining shops in two regions of Peru, the Amazon and high altitude locations. Mining accounts for about 30% of all human-related mercury release.

Dr. Lee Talbot MED’57 and Marty Talbot FN’04 explored the remote, roadless Nam Theun watershed in the high Annamite Moun- tains of Laos. At the behest of the Lao Government and World Bank, they surveyed a mostly unknown remote forest and grassland area, gained important information about rare or threatened wildlife, and demonstrated that Vietnamese poachers have free reign in the area.

Robert Atwater LF’05 took a flag with other Club members Josh Bernstein FR’04 and Curt Bowen FN’11 to the Yucatan and located Mayan pottery and human remains after diving in over 50 cenotes. Bob also went with Shellie Howard AN’10 and Idee Belau AN’10 and a team of explorers led by Jim Thompson FN’05 to the Mojave Desert to conduct surveys of ancient lava tubes for a NASA Mars project near the town of Baker. Bob was elected to the Board of Directors of the Institute for Nautical Archaeology (INA) located at Texas A&M.

J. J. Kelley SM’07 released his documentary about paddling home- made wooden boats down the 1300 mile Inside Passage from Alaska to Seattle with a friend. Featured previously on PBS via National Geographic’s Wild Chronicles, Kelley’s film features unusual encounters with unexpected marine life.

Scott Wallace FN’06 recently returned from exploring several remote jungle

Scott Wallace with Ashénkinka elder on the Alto Tamaya River, Perulocations in the watersheds of the Peruvian/Brazilian Amazon border.

locations in the watersheds of the Peruvian/Brazilian Amazon border.  These rugged headwaters frontier regions contain uncontacted indigenous communities which remain in isolation from the world.   Traveling by helicopter, bush plane, canoe, and on foot, this three month expedition into the land of the flecheiros (Arrow People) is chronicled in his forthcoming book entitled The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes.  We are pleased that Scott returned unscathed as the flecheiros are known to repel intruders with showers of deadly arrows. He was also a guest on the NPR Radio “Weekend Edition” discussing his experiences in the remote Peruvian/Brazilian Amazon border.  His book was reviewed in the December 4 NY Times Book Review which included a photo of Scott. He told the story behind the book at the ECWG’s Nov. 19 Cosmos Club dinner.

Dr. Lew Toulmin MN’04 organized a survey with Federal and state archaeologists to find the missing plantation of his ancestor, Brig. Gen. Andrew Williamson (1730-1786), near Greenwood, S. C. Williamson was a Patriot leader in the American Revolution, then took British protection, and was reviled as the “Benedict Arnold of South Carolina.”  Later it was revealed that he spied on the British for a year while in their headquarters, making him America’s first important double agent.  His plantation, White Hall, was a fort, depot, prison, military base and battlefield during the war. The survey team found Revolutionary War-era evidence of a structure that will be the site of future field research.

ECWG members appeared in the media as well over the past few months.  Jack Williams FN’03 was a guest of the NPR Kojo Nnamdi Show discussing the effects of Hurricane Irene.  As the recently retired founding weather editor of USA Today, Jack is a frequent resource for weather and climate issues for the media and government.  Among his recent publications is one from July 2011 Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine on why lightning doesn’t knock airliners out of the sky when it hits them.  His recent book The AMS Weather Book: The Ultimate Guide to America’s Weather is a highly respected resource and he is completing a book for the National Geographic Society.

Dr. Thomas King FN’02 was interviewed about his work as the senior archaeologist with The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) on the search for Amelia Earhart, on Fairfax County VA Public Television.  He also presented a paper at the World Archaeological Congress’ Intercongress on Heritage Management in East and Southeast Asia, in Beijing, as a guest of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

In other news, Dr. Michael Manyak MED’92 was recently named to the board of directors of the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) of the Boy Scouts of America.  He also was an invited guest speaker at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business graduate program to lecture on aspects of expedition medicine.  Dr. Manyak also presented his experiences in expedition medicine as the dinner program speaker for The Adventurers Club of Chicago.  Anyone interested in a fascinating artifact display should visit this club which shares common roots of Teddy Roosevelt involvement and remote travel with The Explorers Club.

Most importantly, we welcome new members to ECWG and look forward to their participation and contributions to our chapter: James Abely MN‘11, Michael Blakely MN‘11, Jacob Bressman SM‘11, Carrie-Lee Early AN‘11, Kenneth Kambis FN‘11, Michael Max FN‘05, and Nicolas Temnikov FN‘78.

Compiled by Dr. Michael Manyak

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November talk on Amazon’s hidden tribes

At the ECWG’s Nov. 19, 2011 Cosmos Club dinner Scott Wallace, FN’07 told the story of his National Geographic assignment in the summer 2002 to journey deep into the Amazon with the renowned Brazilian explorer and Indian rights activist Sydney Possuelo to gather information on an uncounted indigenous group known as the “People of the Arrow” without making contact. Wallace recounts  the expedition in his new book The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes.

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ECWG Annual Meeting

Explorers Club Washington Group members will meet at 5:45 p.m. at the Cosmos Club on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011 — 15 minutes before the annual black tie event–to elect members of the Board of Directors Class of 2014 and conduct any other business to brought before the meeting.

Under the ECWG Articles of Procedure, the Ad-hoc Nominating Committee is responsible for providing a slate of five nominees for the next class of elected members of the Board of Directors, as well as nominees to fill vacancies in other classes.  The members of the Board of Directors are to be elected by the ECWG membership at the annual election meeting, which will be this coming December 3th and they take office immediately after that meeting.

Nominees for Board of Directors Class of 2014

  • James P. Blair FN09
  • R. Craig Cook MN01
  • Tony K. Meunier FE 84
  • Llewellyn M. “Lew” Toulmin MN04
  • Karen Ronne Tupek MN07

Nominees for the ECWG Officers are:

  • Chairman: Julius “Jay” Kaplan  MN01
  • Vice Chairman:  Susan Sawtelle  MN01
  • Secretary:  Margaret “Meg” Walsh  FN08
  • Treasurer:  Bruce Blanchard  MN78
  • Program Director:  Donald J. Gerson FE78
  • Membership Director:  Robert “Bob” Tallent FN07
  • Chairman, Grants Committee: Polly A. Penhale, FN91
  • Chairman, Public Relations and Outreach, John C. Williams, FN03
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December talk on building South Pole station

Jerry Marty, who was in charge of building the newest South Pole station, talked about the challenges of building the third and current U.S. South Pole station at the ECWG’s annual black tie dinner at the Cosmos Club on Saturday, Dec. 3. 2011.

Jerry Marty carries the U.S. flag leading the procession of flags of Antarctic Treaty nations from the old to the new South Pole Station on Jan. 12, 2007 for the dedication of the new station. National Science Foundation photo by Glenn Grant.

In his talk Marty focused on the challenges of building a 21st century scientific research facility at the Pole and on the exciting new science supported at the station.

This is the Centennial of the arrival of the first people at the South Pole. On Dec. 18, 1911 the Norwegian  explorer Roald Amundsen, and the four men with him arrived at the South Pole. All made it back safely. On Jan. 18 the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott and the four men with him arrived to find the tent the Norwegians had left at the Pole. All died on their way back.

U.S. Navy Construction Battalion officers and men built the first U.S. South Pole Station in 1957. People have lived and worked at it and subsequent Pole stations since the first crew spent the Antarctic Winter of 1957-58 there. Marty first worked at the Pole during the 1974-75 “summer” season, which was the final year of construction of the second station. He led the construction of the third station, which was dedicated on Jan. 12, 2008.

More Information: The Antarctic Sun, published by the U.S. Antarctic Program, briefly tells the story of Marty’s life and his work as manger of the construction of the new station in its March 27, 2009 edition.

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ECWG member’s work on exhibit at Press Club

Curt Westergard MN “09 and his company, Digital  Design & Imaging Service, Inc., has several large photos illustrating “The Science & Art of Crowd Counting” on display in the Lobby of the National Press Club, on the 13th Floor at 529 14th St. NW, at F Street NW, in downtown Washington.

The exhibit is co-sponsored by CBS News, one of the news organizations  that are using Westergard’s photos of large events, especially those on Washington’s National Mall, to report accurate crowd figures.

The exhibit presents the aerial imaging tools and photo analysis strategies used to count crowds at outdoor protests and rallies.

In 2010 the Washington Post’s ombudsman citied the work of Westergard and his company in suppling reporters with accurate figures for crowds instead of the usually-inflated estimates supplied by organizers.

The exhibit includes both actual photos of events and the crowd figures and computer-generated images showing what crowds the size sometimes claimed could look like from the air. For example, one image shows that if a million people were “on the mall” from 3rd street on past the Washington Monument, in an area the 300-foot width of the mall, the crowd would stretch across the Potomac on out to the Ballston area of Arlington.

The Press Club’s 13th floor, where the exhibit is on display, is open to the public as is the Club’s Fourth Estate Restaurant on the same floor.

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Dinner talk on Northwest Passage journey

Emmy award-winning filmmaker Sprague Theobald talked about his five-month, 2009 journey from Rhode Island through the legendary Northwest Passage to Seattle at the Jan. 14, 2012 Explorers Club Washington Group dinner at the Cosmos Club in Washington.

Theobald  left Rhode Island on a 57-foot Nordhavn powerboat with a crew of four to document a maritime expedition through the Arctic’s storied Northwest Passage.

Once impenetrable, the ice-covered seafaring route became fully navigable for the first time in 2007 when the sea ice dramatically retreated, and , in 2009, Theobald and crew embarked to make a film showcasing the stark wilderness. They encountered significantly more ice than expected, but five months, many polar bears and one perilous ice trap later, they emerged safely in Seattle.

In his ECWG dinner talk Theobald shared his highlights of his trip along the Passage and an account of the evidence encountered from the lost Franklin Expedition of 1845. He will present some of the 1800 still pictures taken during his journey.

Theobald has always had an affinity for the sea. From his three year stint on the America’s Cup yacht Intrepid to his private voyages from Alaska through the Panama Canal and into the Caribbean, he has over 45,000 deep water miles under his belt.

His look at The America’s Cup in “The 25th Defense” won him an Emmy Award. Theobald is the owner and founder of Hole In The Wall Film and Video Productions.  His company became the first in history to utilize a production motorboat to complete the 8500 mile Northwest Passage.

Theobald’s book about his Northwest Passage trip, The Other Side Of The Ice, will be published in April 2012 by Sky Horse Publishing.  He has a larger boat on order.

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Talk retraced the steps of Marco Polo

Denis Belliveau, MR 07,  used photos to describe the two years he and Francis O’Donnell spent retracing all 25,000 miles of Marco Polo’s 24-year, 13th century journey by land and sea from Venice to China and back at the ECWG’s Cosmos Club dinner on Feb. 11, 2012.

Richly enhanced with Belliveau’s award-winning photographs, the program detailed the highs and lows of retracing Polo’s path, trying to see what Polo saw and feel what he must have felt.

Until Belliveau and O’Donnell did it, no individual or team  had ever retraced Marco Polo’s entire route, although several Expeditions tried and failed.  One of Belliveau’s and O’Donnell’s self-imposed rule was “No Flying.”

Belliveau’s  photographic career has taken him to over 60 countries where he has amassed a wealth of mesmerizing images. His work has been published in numerous magazines, periodicals and books, including Photographic Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine and most recently the B.B.C. documentary series “Planet Earth” which aired on the Discovery Channel.

He is the recipient of the Gallery Award, Eastman Kodak’s highest honor for a professional photographer. “In the Footsteps of Marco Polo” was nominated for an Emmy® in the category of Outstanding Arts & Culture Programming. Denis is employed as Director of Photography and senior cameraman for the award winning P.B.S. television Series, “Real Moms, Real Stories, Real Savvy.”

He lives in New York City with his wife Lisa and sons Jake and Cary James and is currently working on his next documentary.

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March talk on Antarctica climbing and cruising

The Explorers Club Washington Group’s March event will be a luncheon meeting at noon on Wednesday, March 28 at the headquarters of Diplomatic and Consular Officers, Retired (DACOR), 1801 F Street NW, Washington.

Gary J. Kopff MN ’91 will give an illustrated talk on:

  • Cruising across the Drake Passage from Ushuaia, Argentina to the Antarctic Peninsula with zodiac trips to the shore to experience penguins and seals and to visit the U.S. Palmer Station.
  • CLIMBING the highest mountain in the Antarctic (the Vinson Massif) in the Ellsworth Mountains with his friends  the late  international  climbing guides Rob Hall in 1961 and 1996 and Gary Ball in 1953 and 1993.

Kopff is avid mountain climber who has reached the summits of the highest mountains in Africa, Europe, and Antarctica. He and his wife, Judy, have traveled throughout the world to see endangered and threatened species. In addition they volunteer frequently as clowns for various non-profit organizations including for Wounded Warriors and their families at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center,  and pediatric units at local hospitals.

The Luncheon costs $40.00 per person, including wine. Reservations must be made before noon Friday, March 23, with Bill Runyon, 1812 19th St. NW, Washington DC 20009, (202) 234 7490  Bill.runyon@verizon.net

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April talk on a ‘Paradise in Peril’

Robert E. Hyman LF 93’ will describe his exploration in the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve in Honduras at the April 14 ECWG dinner at the Cosmos Club.

He describes the reserve, which is home to the highest level of tropical biodiversity in Central America, as a “Paradise in Peril”

Robert Hyman in Honduras

Non-indians are invading the Reserve from all sides, poaching endangered wildlife and fish, slashing and burning ancient forests to sow pastures, and forcing indigenous inhabitants off their ancestral lands, Hyman says.

His Paradise in Peril presentation, which includes a film, follows an expedition organized to document the destruction of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and collect testimony from the native peoples who rely on the Río Plátano for survival.

Fewer than 400 individuals have ever completed this strenuous expedition from the rivers headwaters to the Miskito coast of Honduras. Hyman is among the elite few that have done this expedition twice.

He is a photographer-mountaineer-explorer who has organized, led and participated in numerous expeditions around the world. Hyman’s  expeditions focus on scientific field research in archaeology, conservation, biodiversity, ornithology, anthropology and technology advancements.

He has been on seven Explorers Club flag expeditions, and has lectured about his expeditions before Explorers Club events in Washington, New York and Florida as well as at The Smithsonian Institution museums of Natural History and the American Indian.

Hyman has climbed the western hemisphere’s tallest peak, Aconcagua, (22,834 feet), Africa’s highest peak (Kilimanjaro), and kayaked Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, the world’s highest navigable lake (12,500 feet). Robert has also climbed to the summit of 47 of the 50 state high points.  Based on his achievements in exploration, Robert was elected to be a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a Fellow of The Explorers Club.

The evening begins with a cocktail hour at 6 p.m.

Dinners are $50 each. Reservations must be made before noon, Monday, April 9 with Bill Runyon, 1812 19th St. NW, Washington DC 20009, (202) 234-7490

Bill.runyon@verizon.net

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ECWG dinner talk will be on astrobiology

Marc Kaufman, who writes about NASA and space issues for The Washington Post, will talk on “Lake Vostok and the Burgeoning Science of Astrobiology” at the ECWG’s Saturday, May 19, Cosmos Club dinner.

Marc Kaufman

He will describe how the hunt for life beyond Earth is taking researchers to the most extreme environments on our planet – Lake Vostok in Antarctica, the deep gold mines of South Africa, the Atacama Desert – as well as into space and soon onto the surface of Mars.

Kaufman’s  Jan. 31, 2012 Washington Post story explains why astrobiologists are interested in Antarctica’s Lake Vostok.

He has been a reporter on the Post’s national staff for ten years.  Kaufman has also worked as a foreign correspondent at the Post, reporting from Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, and as New Delhi bureau chief for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday, and New York magazines, as well as Smithsonian and Condé Nast Traveler.

In his book: “First Contact: Scientific Breakthroughs in the Hunt for Life Beyond Earth” (Simon & Schuster), Kaufman suggests that, as never before, we now have the knowledge and technology to answer that question, and will likely find life beyond Earth in the next generation.

For the book, he traveled the world to learn firsthand about the innovative and extensive research under way to understand and ultimately identify extraterrestrial life, and he reports from the Vatican about efforts to reconcile some of the discoveries with religious belief. Kaufman says his past work as a foreign correspondent prepared him for this study of the newly emerging and dynamic field of astrobiology.

The dinner costs $50 for each person. The evening begins with cocktail hour at 6 p.m.

Reservations must be received before noon, on Monday, March 14 by Bill Runyon, 1812 19th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20009, (202) 234-7490, or email:  bill.runyon@verizon.net

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ECWG picnic canceled

Damage caused by strong storms that hit the Washington, D.C. area on June 29 and a forecast of temperatures hotter than 100 degrees on June 30 forced the cancelation of the ECWG picnic scheduled at the Chetwood Park home of Dr. Stephen W. J. Seager, FN95.


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    Scott Wallace to receive Lowell Thomas Award

    The Explorers Club Flag and Honors Committee has selected Scott Wallace, FN ’07, an ECWG member, as one of four recipients of 2012 Lowell Thomas Awards.

    Two Brazilian policemen guard Scott Wallace in the Amazon.

    “Scott is an excellent candidate who personifies the concept of mindfulness and has done so over two decades with numerous expeditions and publication of those findings,” says ECWG member Michael J. Manyak, MED ’92, a member of the Flag and Honors Committee.

    “He is a true champion for preservation of indigenous culture and biodiversity and has brought awareness of these issues to the public domain repeatedly. His work is the essence of exploration and he should be recognized by our organization for those contributions,” Manyak said in his letter of recommendation for the Award.

    Wallace is a writer, photographer, producer, and speaker whose assignments have taken him from the streets of Baghdad and the Himalayas to the Alaskan Arctic and the depths of the Amazon.

    The other 2012 awardees are:

    • David Attenborough, the British broadcaster and naturalist who’s best known for his natural history television programs over 60 years.  His work includes award-winning shows series “Life on Earth,” “The Blue Planet” and “Frozen Planet.”
    • David Hempleman-Adams, whose many accomplishments include being the first person to reach the Geographic and Magnetic North and South Poles as well as climb the highest peaks in all seven continents.
    • Bill Thomas who has spent more than 20 years going into Papua New Guinea each summer to work with indigenous cultures. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has recognized him for developing ways to use indigenous knowledge to predict the impact of human activity on biodiversity.

    Widely published writer

    Wallace is a frequent contributor to National Geographic and a former correspondent for Newsweek and the Guardian, and his writings on armed conflict, international organized crime, the environment, and vanishing cultures have appeared in Harper’s, Smithsonian, National Geographic Adventure, National Geographic Traveler, Condé Nast Traveler, and Grand Street.

    His photography credits include Smithsonian, Outside, Details, National Geographic Traveler, and Newsweek, and he has shot and produced for CBS News, CNN, and National Geographic Channel.

    At the ECWG’s Nov. 19, 2011 Cosmos Club dinner Wallace told the story of his National Geographic assignment in the summer 2002 to journey deep into the Amazon with the renowned Brazilian explorer and Indian rights activist Sydney Possuelo to gather information on an uncounted indigenous group known as the “People of the Arrow” without making contact.

    Wallace tells the expedition’s story in his book The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes.

    The book has been excerpted in The Explorers Journal and National Geographic Traveler and reviewed by numerous publications, including “New York Times Book Review,” “New York Review of Books NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” “The Boston Globe,” “The London Sunday Times,” the Wall “Street Journal”, and “Discover Magazine.”

    “His book had me itching to retrieve my boots, bug juice, and passport to head out the door,” Manyak says.

    To jungles and the Arctic

    Early in his career, Wallace took numerous journeys into remote jungle areas of Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras.  These trips documented the troubles of the indigenous tribes as they fled into mountainous remote jungle to avoid government-sponsored violence.

    In the 1990s, he traveled deep into boreal forests in deep winter along the Great Whale River and Le Grande River in Quebec’s Far North to document the impact of hydroelectric construction on Cree Indian’s subsistence hunting way of life.  Publication of the Cree’s opposition helped kill the $19-billiion contract between Quebec and the New York Power Authority.

    In 2001, on assignment for National Geographic, Wallace accompanied a Venezuelan fact-finding expedition into the remote Upper Orinoco Valley to investigate charges of misconduct perpetrated by Western scientists among the primitive Yanomami Indians.  This resulted in the definitive account of the so-called “Chagnon Controversy,” published in National Geographic Adventure, in April 2002.

    The two-part television series he produced for National Geographic Channel on the challenges ahead for the Yanomami as their ancient culture comes up against the frontier of modernity is very highly regarded.

    Though heavily concentrated in Amazonia, Wallace’s activities have encompassed other distressed areas.

    Circumnavigates globe for Word Bank

    In 2004, he circumnavigated the globe for the World Bank to document Bank-financed development projects with visits to Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Morocco, Senegal, Mauritania, Tanzania, Eritrea, Yemen, Bulgaria, Turkey, India, Bangladesh, and Thailand.

    This resulted in a publication on World Bank’s Development 360 website and exclusive photographs available in World Bank Image Collection which depict poverty alleviation, women’s empowerment, rural road construction, rural education, girl’s education, labor and commerce.

    Also in 2004, at the behest of NGS, Scott accompanied George Schaller on a two-month expedition through the Grand and Small Pamir of Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor, all the way to border of China on foot, horseback and yak.

    This expedition conducted a census of Marco Polo sheep as a prelude to creating a four-nation peace park to protect and manage the species as well as to give local shepherds incentives to protect the animals.  This resulted in publication of “The Mega-Fauna Man” in National Geographic Adventure, a profile of Dr. Schaller’s work (Dec. 2006).

    Scott traveled for The Smithsonian in 2005 to the southern rim of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) with Gwich’in caribou hunters and to Inupiat Eskimo villages on North Slope of Alaska to document the growing schism dividing Native Alaskans over the issue of oil drilling in ANWR.  His publication of a major story “ANWR: The Great Divide,” in Smithsonian (Oct. 2005) provided the unique perspective of Native Alaskans at ground zero of the controversy.

    Back in Latin America in 2008, Scott trekked to Machu Picchu via the Salcantay Trail resulting in publication of “The High Road to Machu Picchu” in National Geographic Traveler (May-June 2009).  This provided a thoughtful examination of the delicate social and natural ecology of the Andes, where glaciers are rapidly melting and where adventure tourism poses tricky challenges for vulnerable habitats and archeological sites.

    Wallace continues exploration today.  He recently returned from two expeditions into the remote Alto Tamaya, Upper Yurua, and Alto Purus river basins of Peru to examine the environmental and social impacts of illegal logging in some of the most biodiverse and culturally diverse lands on Earth. His publication is forthcoming in National Geographic.

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    News briefs 2nd quarter 2012

    John Maclean, FN ’02, award-winning author of three previous books on wildfire disasters, has written another, a book on the deadly 2006 Esperanza Fire in California. The book will be released next January by Counterpoint Press.

    Full story

    Items below compiled by Michael J. Manyak, MD, MED 92

    With the winter thaw, the ECWG spring was charged with events and diverse member activities.  The 15 member ECWG Board of Directors continued its monthly meetings at the National Geographic headquarters under the guidance of our very capable and efficient chairman, Jay Kaplan MN ’01, who has been innovative in his approach to diversifying our activities.

    Another person who deserves recognition is our stalwart treasurer, Bruce Blanchard MN ’78, who has made certain that our books are balanced…..for at least 20 years and counting.  The treasurer position takes time and detailed attention and, though it attracts occasional good-natured grumbles, we all greatly appreciate Bruce’s efforts and are comforted by his diligence.

    In other ECWG board news, archaeologist Sarah Yeomans FN ’07 was welcomed as a new member.  Sarah was a recipient of an ECWG exploration grant a few years ago and we are pleased to see our grant program still bearing fruit.

    ECWG currently has at least 3 members on different exciting Explorers Club Flag expeditions so expect those reports next quarter.

    Another Flag expedition just completed with the return of Jason Paterniti

    Searching for a lost army from the time of Herodotus in the southern Egyptian desert are (L to R) Robert Atwater LF ’05, Jason Paterniti MN ’10, and expedition leader Albert Lin. Photo courtesy of J Paterniti.

    MN ’10 from the Libyan Desert Expedition where he and Robert Atwater LF ’05 joined Lowell Thomas Medalist and National Geographic explorer Dr. Albert Lin and his team.  Following up on the work of others, this team used cutting edge surface image technology and searched in 1940s vintage jeeps for the 50,000 member lost army of Cambyses II which disappeared in 522 BC in southwest Egypt.  Although not successful in locating remnants of the army, the imaging did detect a prehistoric watchtower, a round settlement structure, and directional markers.

    Gary Kopff MN ’91 was interviewed by CNN Headline News to discuss the recent multiple deaths on Everest.  Gary also hosted a special event with Lowell Thomas Medalist Dr. Laurie Marker FI ’06, the founder and executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund where Gary serves on the US board of trustees.

    Explorer Medalist Dr. Lee Talbot MED ’57 and Marty Talbot FN ’04 were featured in an article in Mason Research 2012: Discovery and Innovation at George Mason University regarding his outstanding contributions to environmental policy and exploration.

    Dr. Stephen Seager FN ’95 was accompanied by Dr. Michael Manyak MED ’92 to the Belfast Zoo to evaluate the highly endangered Lowland Gorilla and Asian Golden Cat for fertility issues.  Surgical procedures were successful and the patients recovered quickly without incident.  Dr. Manyak also was anguest speaker at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business graduate program to lecture on aspects of expedition medicine.

    The program committee headed by Don Gerson FE ’78 and Frank Power MN ’93 provided our well-attended monthly dinner events at the Cosmos Club with outstanding presentations.

    • In March, the ECWG was ably represented by a contingent to NY for ECAD and its events.  Because of ECAD, our group does not conduct a dinner meeting in March but has a member luncheon event with speaker.  This year above-mentioned Gary Kopff gave a presentation about his experiences in Antarctica which included climbing its highest mountain, the Vinson Massif, with now deceased mountaineering luminaries Rob Hall and Gary Bell.
    • The April event dinner presentation was given by Robert Hyman  LF’93 who showed his short documentary on the Río Platáno Biosphere Reserve in Honduras documenting ecological destruction.  This presentation included testimony compiled from the native peoples about the importance of this UNESCO World Heritage Site to their subsistence.
    • The subject of May’s dinner presentation was Lake Vostok and the search for extreme life in the largest subglacial lake in Antarctica.  Astrobiology encompasses the hunt for life beyond Earth and there is growing interest in studying such organisms, known as extremophiles, on earth as a possible model for extraterrestrial life.  Our speaker, Washington Post correspondent Marc Kaufman, specializes in matters relating to space.
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    Maclean’s book on fatal fire set for publication

    John Maclean, FN ’02, award-winning author of three previous books on wildfire disasters, has written another, a book on the deadly 2006 Esperanza Fire in California.

    The book will be released next January by Counterpoint Press. Maclean first visited the site of the Esperanza Fire in 2007, the spring after it occurred, and he has returned many times since. He covered the lengthy Oyler trial in Riverside, California, and he details both the trial and the fire in his book.

    The Esperanza Fire: Arson, Murder, and the Agony of Engine 57 will be featured as the lead non-fiction title for Counterpoint Press’ 2013 winter list, according to president and editorial director Jack Shoemaker.

    When a jury returns to a packed courtroom to announce its verdict in a capital murder case every noise, even a scraped chair or an opening door, resonates like a high-tension cable snap. Spectators stop rustling in their seats; prosecution and defense lawyers and the accused stiffen into attitudes of wariness; the judge looks on owlishly; even the court bailiff, who experiences too much of humanity’s dark side, often stands to attention for this moment. In that atmosphere of heightened expectation the jury entered a Riverside County Superior Court room in Southern California to render a decision in the trial of Raymond Oyler, charged with setting the Esperanza Fire of 2006, which killed a five man Forest Service engine crew sent to fight the blaze.

    The Esperanza Fire marked the first time that an entire engine crew was killed by fire, and the first time that an arsonist was successfully prosecuted for murder for setting a wildland fire. The swift capture and lengthy trial are detailed for the first time in Maclean’s book, which confronts the reader with a true villain who receives the maximum penalty for his crimes.

    During the penalty phase of his trial, the judge and jury would decide whether Oyler’s conviction justified imposition of the death penalty. The older brother of one of the firefighters who was killed managed to express the rage of the survivors.

    “The way he died pisses me off,” said Jason McLean. “If my brother would have died in a fire that was started by lightning, it would have been easier to deal with. My brother got murdered, and that’s something I don’t know how to deal with. He should not be dead. I have a rage that I can’t even explain to you. He knew the risks of his job. It will never be right.”

    After six days of such testimony, the jury unanimously recommended the death penalty.

    The Esperanza Fire started on Oct. 26, 2006, in the San Jacinto Mountains above the Banning Pass; it burned 41,000 acres and destroyed dozens of homes. Forest Service Engine 57 rolled in to help defend the Twin Pines neighborhood, about 30 houses on a steep ridge face – typical wildland-urban interface, where development chews into previously wild and still unforgiving territory. The ground was bone-dry, crumbly and covered with tall chaparral.

    When the fire blew up, flames and superheated gases erupted in what’s called an “area ignition,” and in just about five seconds, it raced three-quarters of a mile and swept over the house where the crew of Engine 57 had made their stand.

    “It was a cauldron of fire,”recalls Chris Fogle, captain of another Forest Service fire engine. “There was a solid churning, as though someone had laid down a flamethrower in the canyon.”

    Maclean’s book, The Esperanza Fire, has been more than five years in the making. He flew repeatedly to Southern California to interview firefighters who survived the fire, the families of those who were killed, and the law enforcement officers, jurors, and prosecutors who were key to the investigation and trial. Through countless interviews, stacks of reports, and repeated trips to the site of the fire, Maclean has researched and written a vivid account of the fire from the perspective of the firefighters who were on the ground when the fatal fire exploded.

    In an effort to understand how someone could commit such a crime, Maclean has also maintained contact with Oyler, who is on Death Row in San Quentin State Prison.

    Maclean has become well known to firefighters since the publication of his first book, Fire on the Mountain, the story of the 1994 South Canyon Fire that was featured in two documentaries by Dateline NBC and the History Channel.  The book was reissued in a modern classics edition in December, 2009, by Harper Collins Perennial.

    He is also the author of two other books about wildland fires, Fire and Ashes and The Thirtymile Fire.

    Counterpoint Press is a California publishing house that specializes in high-quality literary works and includes on its list such authors as Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder, and M.F.K.

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    News briefs, 3rd quarter 2012

    Lew Toulmin, Ph.D., MN ’04, F.R.G.S., was the co-leader with Jonathan Leader, Ph.D., FN ’05, F.R.G.S. of a recently completed Flag expedition to try to find the missing Revolutionary plantation, battlefield, POW camp, arms depot and slave quarters of his fifth great-grandfather, Brigadier Andrew Williamson of the South Carolina militia.

    Full story

    Bill Runyon MN ’01 led the Coastal Oregon Shark Habitat and Population Survey & Hubbard Underwater Radio expedition, which documented the decline of the great white shark population and captured much information about the underwater habitat and water quality in this location.  They also gathered sonographic data on coastal tectonic plate movement in this area of high geologic activity.

    Dr. Craig Cook MN ’01 was medical director and diver in a multi-institutional research flag expedition to the Phoenix Islands in Kirabati, including Nikumarora, the purported site of Amelia Earhart’s demise.  These central equatorial pacific islands are sites of ongoing evaluation of coral reef health and marine ecosystems in a large collaborative effort including Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Scripps Oceanographic Institute, The Nature Conservancy, the New England Aquarium, and other similar organizations.  Their efforts included placement and data retrieval from permanent benthic sensors, tracking and tagging of manta rays, DNA sampling of reef fishes and invertebrates, and coral sampling to document reef recovery after damage.  The absence of human impact in this remote area enables research on natural factors influencing reef health and recovery.

    Lew Toulmin, Ph.D., MN ’04, F.R.G.S has signed a contract to work for a year in the Prime Minister’s office of the Republic of Vanuatu (formerly the New Hebrides), and has his eye on the actual island which inspired James Michener to write about Bali Hai in Tales of the South Pacific. He is planning an expedition there to study the island’s volcano (one of the ten most dangerous in the world, with a crater lake that just changed color from blue to red, but no-one knows why), to examine the emergency management and evacuation plan for the island’s 10,000 people, and to document a downed WW II fighter that he previously found on the island.

    Toulmin and the Missing Aircraft Search Team (MAST), of which he is a co-founder, have been assisting two sheriff’s offices in northeast Minnesota try to locate a missing light Piper aircraft, which disappeared near northern Lake Superior in June 2012.  Previously the MAST dealt only with “cold” cases, but recently has been getting requests to assist with “hot,” active cases.  Toulmin and other MAST members have been analyzing radar and cell phone data, and interviewing eye- and ear-witnesses, campers in the area, and people familiar with the pilot and plane.  They have tentatively reduced the search area from about 500 square miles of lake and shoreline to 10 square miles of dense forest.

    John Maclean, FN ’02, award-winning author of three previous books on wildfire disasters, has written another, a book on the deadly 2006 Esperanza Fire in California.

    The book will be released next January by Counterpoint Press. Maclean first visited the site of the Esperanza Fire in 2007, the spring after it occurred, and he has returned many times since. He covered the lengthy Oyler trial in Riverside, California, and he details both the trial and the fire in his book.

    Full story

    Dr. Rick Potts FN ’95 was quoted in both the NY Times (with photo) and the Washington Post regarding a new 2 million year old human fossil skull he believes is likely to be a third early human species from that era.

    Scott Wallace FN’06 spoke at the bookstore Politics and Prose, a Washington institution, and his book The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes was highlighted for the second time in the NY Times Book Review.

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    Bombash set for October 26-28

    This  year’s annual ECWG Bombash will be a trip to Staunton in foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains on Oct. 26-28.

    Staunton, which is known for its historic architecture packed into five historic districts, is approximately 160 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Magazine has named Staunton as one of the top 20 Small Towns in America

    HIghlights of the Bombash will include:

    • A casual Friday evening dinner and the opportunity to walk the Staunton Historic District
    • A tour of the Blackfriars Playhouse, the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s legendary indoor theater
    • A visit to Woodrow Wilson’s birthplace, museum, and research library–the only presidential library in Virginia
    • A tour of the Frontier Culture Museum, a living-history museum that illustrates the daily lives of the Shenandoah Valley’s early settleres
    • Saturday cocktails and dinner with a speaker on a topic of local interest.

    The Bombash’s base will be the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in the heart to downtown Staunton and a member of Historic Inns of America.

    On the way home on Sunday participants will stop at Montpelier, the home of President James Madison and his wife Dolly.

    Contact Frank Power, for details and reservations. 301 274 9377,  frankrpower@aol.com

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    Sept. 22 dinner speaker reviewed lessons of wildfires

    John N. Maclean, FN ’02,  spoke on “A Season of Fire” at the ECWG’s September 22, 2012 dinner at the Cosmos Club.

    His talk reviewed lessons learned from the ongoing explosive fire season including the reality of bigger, hotter fires and sometimes overwhelmed and inadequate firefighting resources”

    John Maclean at Great Falls National Park, Va.

    MacLean gave a detailed account of the Esperanza Fire of 2006, which killed a five-man Forest Service engine crew sent to defend homes in lightly inhabited desert highlands in southern California. Why did the crew set up where they did, in an exposed position guarding an uninhabited house? And why did they remain there when it was clear they would be hit by a major fire front? Never before has an entire engine crew been wiped out by a wildland fire.

    Less than a week after the fire, Raymond Oyler was arrested for starting the fire, one of many he set that year. Within three years he was tried and found guilty of five counts of murder and sentenced to death. Never before has anyone been convicted of murder for setting a wildland fire, let alone sentenced to death.

    The Oyler case marks a trend toward much stiffer punishments for anyone responsible for starting a fire in wild lands, either deliberately or negligently. In part, the trend is fueled by hotter, bigger, and more destructive fires: but the key element is the expansion of the wildland-urban interface, bringing more people into contact with previously wild lands—and almost inevitably with fire.

    Maclean was a reporter, writer, and editor for The Chicago Tribune for 30 years, most of that time as a Washington correspondent, before he resigned from the newspaper in 1995 to write books.

    As a Washington correspondent, he covered the State Department and was one of the “Kissinger 14” who accompanied Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during the era of shuttle diplomacy.

    Maclean was a Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University for the 1974-75 academic year.

    Maclean’s first book, Fire on the Mountain, was a best-selling account of the South Canyon Fire of 1994 that took 14 firefighter lives in central Colorado. The book received the Mountains and Plains Booksellers award as the best non-fiction of 1999.

    A two-hour documentary by the History Channel based on the book was an Emmy Award finalist and won the Cine Master’s Award for Excellence as the best documentary of 2003.

    Maclean subsequently wrote Fire and Ashes and The Thirtymile Fire: A Chronicle of Bravery and Betrayal. His latest book, The Esperanza Fire: Arson, Murder and the Agony of Engine 57, is available for pre-ordering from Amazon.com and will be published in February by Counterpoint Press.

    He is a frequent speaker at fire academies and other gatherings. Maclean, an avid fly fisherman, and his wife Frances, a member of the Society of Women Geographers, divide their time between a family cabin on Seeley Lake, Montana, and their long-time home in Washington, D.C.’s Cleveland Park.  He is the son of Montana writer Norman Maclean, who wrote the well-known novella A River Runs Through It.

    Dinners are $50 each. Reservations must be made before noon, Monday, Sept. 17 with Bill Runyon, 1812 19th St. NW, Washington DC 20009, (202) 234-7490

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    Frank Power to give talk on John Wesley Powell

    ECWG member Frank R. Power MN’93, will give a luncheon talk on John Wesley Powell at noon on Tuesday, Oct. 16, at Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant at 5333 Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase.

    Power says: “We have regular dinners in the Powell Room at the Cosmos Club, but how much do we know about the man after whom it is named?  John Wesley Powell (1834 – 1902) was a Civil War hero, geologist and explorer of the American West.

    “He is famous for the 1869 Powell Geographic Expedition, a three-month river trip down the Green and Colorado rivers, that included the first known passage through the Grand Canyon.

    “He served as director of the U.S. Geological Survey from 1881 to 1894. – He was simultaneously Director of the Bureau of American Ethnology that he founded it in 1879. During his government tenure he touched off controversy by advocating strict conservation of water resources in the developing states and territories of the arid West.

    “Powell was also a founder of the Cosmos Club and the National Geographic Society as well other major scientific and cultural institutions. Come and learn more about his remarkable life.”

    Reservations must be received before noon on Friday, October 12, 2012 by Bill Runyon,1812 19th St. NW, Washington DC 20009; (202) 234-7490

    bill.runyon@verizon.net

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    Talbots to describe expedition in Laos

    Lee and Marty Talbot will talk about their January-February, 2011, expedition into the Nam Theun Watershed in central Laos at the ECWG Nov. 3 dinner at the Cosmos Club.

    The expedition took them into the Nakai Nam Theun National Protected Area in central Laos.

    Because of its remote location and rugged topography, parts of the area still have not been visited by Westerners and the area remains remarkably little known.

    They travelled by aluminum boat and dugouts canoes up the main rivers into the watershed and spent nearly three weeks visiting eleven of the main villages in this remote area, in part to assess the effectiveness of the government efforts to assist the villagers. The villages are remote and scattered through the roadless watershed area, so these visits required days of hiking, some riding on the backs of motorbikes over mountain trails, and considerable travel by dugout canoes.

    The second goal of the expedition was a very remote area high in the Annamite Mountains near the Vietnam border. This is a high forested region with possible grasslands considered to be a priority biodiversity conservation area but essentially unknown.

    They proceeded by boat and foot, camping on sand bars, to a very remote village where they obtained village porters.

    They then hiked south, a very rigorous endeavor involving following poachers’ trails or going cross country, camping en route. They found the grasslands, and recently abandoned camps that would accomodate over a hundred Vietnamese poachers, large numbers of poachers’ snares and, stores of illegally cut rosewood. They heard poachers’ shots every day.

    The cocktail hour will begin at 6 p.m.

    Dinners are $50 per person. Reservations must be received before noon on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 by Bill Runyon, 1812 19th St. NW Washington DC 20009, (202) 234-749;  email: bill.runyon@verizon.net

    page1image18072 page1image18232

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    ECWG selects new Board members

    Members of the Explorers Club Washington Group met briefly before  the Dec. 1, 2012 dinner to elect Directors of the Classes of 2015, 2015, and 2013.

    The candidates were selected by the ad hoc Nominating Committee and elected by members at the brief annual meeting. The new Board members took office immediately.

    Those elected were:

    For the Class of 2015:

    • Michael Wyrick  MN08
    • Caroline J. “Lonnie” Schorer  MN98
    • Michael J. Manyak  MED92
    • Susan D. Sawtelle  MN01
    • Thomas L. Cline  FN03

    For the Class of 2014:

    • Lee M. Talbot  MED57
    • Michael D. Max  FN05

    For the Class of 2013:

    • Polly A. Penhale  FN91

    The Nominating Committee is also responsible for providing a slate of nominees for Officers of the Club.  The officers are elected by the elected members of the Board after the annual election meeting.

    The nominees for the ECWG Officers are:

    • Chairman:   Robert C. “Craig” Cook  MN01
    • Vice Chairman:  John C. “Jack” Williams  FN03
    • Secretary:  William R. Runyon  MN01
    • Treasurer:  Bruce Blanchard  MN78
    • Program Director:  Donald J. Gerson FE78
    • Membership Director:  Robert “Bob” Tallent FN07
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    ECWG member’s art on exhibit at American University

    “Inside The Underworld: Beetle Magic,” art created by Joan Danziger, MN’ 12, is on exhibit at the American University Katzen Arts CenterMuseum through Dec. 16.

    Joan Danziger surrounded by some of her work.The exhibit consists of 72 beetle sculptures. They are consisted in different shapes, sizes and mixed media such as fused glass, metal,copper and paint. In this site-specific exhibition they are climbing up 50 foot walls, ceilings and corners of the Museum.

    She is an explorer who explorers through her art.Danziger used the patterns and anatomy of beetles but has exaggerated sizes and coloring.

    Her research into the world of Coleoptera has lead her to become involved with all the mythology surrounding these amazing species of insects and combines her interest in nature, animal imagery and metamorphosis.

    She began as an abstract painter but the world of sculpture led her to create another exhibition called “Mythic Landscape” where she made an extensive study of trees, flora, fauna and other diverse arboreal compositions.

    Her research in Turkey, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and other countries has also influenced her artwork through diverse projects.  SmithsonianMagazine art/science has written an extensive online article about her exhibit at the Katzen Arts Center.

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    News briefs, 4th quarter 2012

    An exhibit of abstract paintings by Betsy Stewart MN’05 that examines microscopic, mutually dependent life systems found in pond water was shown in early December at the Center for Great Apes Endangered exhibition at the Miami Club Rum Distillery.

    Betsy Stewart's "Biocriticals." The original is 48 by 48 inches

    The exhibit was a venue for the prestigious Art Basel Miami 2012, which the Miami Herald described as “the largest contemporary art fair in the United States.”

    An article on the monochrome effects Web site entitled “ENDANGERED,” features Stewart and her exhibit

    The article quotes her: “In my new series, ‘Biocriticals’, I am interested in creating an ambiguity between micro and macro: what is happening in microscopic water as well as events in the cosmos. If I am successful, my viewers will determine for themselves whether they are seeing particles/matter through a microscope or through a telescope.”

    She describes the exhibit from December 5 through the 9 at Miami Club Rum Distillery as “a piece from each of four different series that share a common theme. I examine microscopic, mutually dependent life systems found in pond water. Giving these images a presence speaks to our fragile position in the cosmos.”

    ECWG selects new Board members

    Members of the Explorers Club Washington Group attending the Dec. 1, 2012 black-tie diner met briefly before the dinner to elect Directors of the Classes of 2015, 2015, and 2013.

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    Dinner talk was on Antarctic expedition

    Three members of a planned 2014 Antarctic expedition honoring the 100th anniversary of Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition described their expedition at the Explorers Club Washington Group’s dinner Saturday, Feb. 23, 2012 at the Cosmos Club.

    Their talk was entitled: “By Endurance We Conquer: Ernest Shackleton and Lessons of Leadership for the Imperial Trans Antarctic Centenary Expedition 2014″ (ITACE).

    The team of six men and women plan to cross Antarctica from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea via the South Pole. The journey will be in celebration of the centenary of one of the greatest explorers in Polar history – Sir Ernest Shackleton. The aim is to follow in the proposed footsteps of the great man who intended to cross the continent on this route.  The route has never been accomplished.

    Shackleton’s plan; its failure, and a great survival story

    In 1914 Shackleton and his party sailed from England on the ship Endurance to land on Antarctica’s Weddell Sea Coast, and head for the South Pole. From the Pole, they would continue north to the Beardmore Glacier, where they would meet the expedition’s Ross Sea party, which had sailed there in the ship Aurora. This party would lay supply depots from Ross Island to the glacier.

    Instead, sea ice trapped the Endurance on January 18, 1915. In late October the ice began crushing the ship, and on October 27, 1915, Shackleton and the 27 other men on board abandoned the ship, thus beginning one of the world’s greatest polar and sea survival stories.

    The Endurance trapped in ice.

    Expedition Web site: the planned route

    Feb. 23 Dinner Speakers

    Those who talked about the planned 2014 expedition were:

    U.S. Liaison Glenn “Marty” Stein, will act as Education Co-coordinator in  the U.S. He was born in Miami, Florida, and now lives just outside Orlando.  He has researched maritime and polar history since 1975, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and minor in History from the University of Florida. Glenn’s writings regularly appear in journals and magazines, having published over 50 articles to date.  He was website polar historian for the International Polar Year 2007-2008.

    Expedition Leader, Joanne “Jo” Davies is an experienced adventurer having rowed across the Atlantic in 2007. She was born in 1978 in Kenya, and studied Marine Geography at Cardiff University. As a rower, sailor and kayaker Davies not only spends her free time on the water but works offshore as a Hydrographic Surveyor in the oil industry.  In 2009 she took part in an expedition skiing across Greenland from West to East Coast which gave her a good taste of things to come in Antarctica.  After rowing the Atlantic she thinks that anything is achievable and has set her sights on her one true ambition in life; to ski to the South Pole.

    Team Member Stewart Stirling, was born and brought up in Dundee, Scotland where he attended Morgan Academy before leaving for London at 17 for a police career. He has served 29 years with both the Metropolitan Police and Heddlu Gwent Police in southeast Wales, where he is now a Forensic Collision Investigator. The outdoors has always played a big part in his life since he was  introduced to the Scottish Highlands as  a boy. Later he was commissioned as an Officer in the Territorial Army and  also gained his Mountain Leader Qualifications.  In 2005 he took part in the Chemin de la Liberte expedition across the Pyrenees and in 2007 Stirling followed this up  in an unsupported expedition crossing the Pyrenees Haute Route from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea, 500 miles and 150,000 feet of ascent in 48 days.

    The expedition will begin in October or November 2014, the beginning of the Southern Hemisphere summer. The purpose is to make the crossing as Shackleton intended; he viewed it as the last great polar journey after expeditions led by Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott had reached the South Pole in 1911 and 1912.

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    ECWG members running for International Board

    Julius “Jay” Kaplan, MN ’01, and William R “Bill” Runyon, MN ’01 are running for seats on The Explorers Club Board of Directors.

    They are among the 15 candidates running for five Board seats.

    Voting is by mail ballot. The EC is mailing ballots and information on how to vote to members. Completed ballots must be received at the Club’s New York City headquarters in the envelope that’s being provided no later than Thursday, March 14, 2013.

    Members must have paid the 2013 Explorers Club dues in order for their votes to be counted.

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    Invitation to a New York art reception

    Betsy Stewart, MN ’05 is inviting ECWG members who’ll be in New York City for the Explorers Club Annual Dinner on March 16 to attend the opening reception for “All About Water,” at which many of her works will have their New York premier.

    The reception is from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, March 14 at Denise Bibro Fine Art, 529 W 20th St., New York City.

    Her work as been described as “Capturing the cosmos in a drop of water.”

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    April ECWG dinner talk on archaeobotany

    Linda Perry spoke on “Archaeobotany: What Used to be for Dinner” beginning at the ECWG’s April 20 dinner at the Cosmos Club in Washington.

    Archaeobotany is the study of remains of plants from the distant past. The science is the source of what we know about ancient environments and how humans in the distant past acquired food.

    Linda Perry

    The science allows us to understand topics as diverse as the diet of Neanderthals, the first beer brewery, and the large-scale modification of landscapes to create fields to feed cities.

    Perry discussed the basic tenets of archaeobotanical methods using examples of ancient human interactions with the plant world ranging from the origins of agriculture in the Cradle of Western and Middle Eastern Civilization in Mesopotamia to the development of complex states and empires in the Americas.

    She is a Fulbright Senior Specialist in archaeobotany and a former Smithsonian Fellow. She holds degrees in biology, botany, and anthropology, and is best known for her groundbreaking work on the identification of archaeological chile peppers in the Neotropics with her discovery of a diagnostic microfossil.

    Perry’s work has taken her to six of the seven continents, and the sites she has studied date from more than 14,000 years ago to the late 19th century. Her current projects include work in the Brazilian Amazon, the north plain of China, and the coastal plain of Texas.

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    Talk on “Around the World at 500 Feet”

    Photographer Cameron Davidson spoke on “Around the world at 500 feet, or helicopters I have known.”at the ECWG’s Cosmos Club dinner on Saturday, May 18, 2013.

    From Wrangel Island in the High Russian Arctic aboard a Soviet Era MI-8 helicopter, to fifty feet above the active volcano, Erte Ale, in the Denakil Depression of Ethiopia, the hottest inhabited desert in the world, the aerial photographs of Cameron Davidson will give you a unique perspective on places you once thought familiar.

    While sharing photographs from all corners of the globe, he discussed his approach to creating emotionally-charged graphic images from aircraft circling slowly, 500 feet above the ground.

    Davidson lives in Northern Virginia and has shot all over the world for clients including Vanity Fair, American Express Departures, National Geographic, ESPN, Audubon, and Smithsonian magazines.

    His work has been commissioned for advertising campaigns, annual reports and editorial features.  In addition to commercial work, he has completed several projects of personal meaning and significance.

    He worked for 13 years in Haiti with the NGO Community Coalition for Haiti documenting the work of surgeons, and spent more than 20 years photographing the Chesapeake Bay Watershed from the air.

    The photographs from the latter project were published in his most recent book, Chesapeake, one of six books among his collected works. His awards include CA Photo Annual, Graphis Photo, Print Design Annual and the Pictures of the Year competition.

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    News Briefs 3rd Quarter 2013

    For the first time in more than 50 years, researchers have found a nest of one of Central America’s rarest birds of prey, raising hope that there is still time to prevent its extinction in this region, the Honduran Conservation Coalition, announced in June.

    For unknown reasons, populations of the once-common Red-throated Caracara (Ibycter americanus) have crashed in Mexico and Central America, according to the Coalition, which made the discovery.

    ECWG member Robert Hyman, LF ’93, who is a co-founder of the Coalition, added that “this is an exciting and important discovery that demonstrates what can be achieved with a dedicated team of individuals. We look forward to continuing our exploration of these critically threatened Mesoamerican ecosystems. More about the discovery on the
    Coalition’s Web site.

    Lew Toulmin, MN ’04, of the ECWG has been carrying Explorers Club Flag 101 in an expedition in the southwestern Pacific island nation of Vanuatu to document Ambae island, which is the real “Bali-ha’i” in James  Michener’s 1946 book Tales of the South Pacific. The book was the basis of the Broadway musical and movie, South Pacific. Complete story.

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    ECWG hosts Lowell Thomas Dinner weekend

    The Explorers Club Washington Group hosted The Explorers Club 2013 Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner and related events on Oct. 25, 26, and 27, 2013.

    It “was the most widely attended LTAD. Ever. With nearly 300 guests from across the U.S., breaking the last record by almost 80 people,” says Kristin Larson, FN ’02, who was a co-chair of the event along with Jay Kaplan, MN ’01, and Bill Runyon, MN ’01.

    The Portuguese Ambassador's residence

    The weekend began Friday evening, October 25th, with an elegant VIP dinner at the beautiful residence of the Portuguese Ambassador in Washington’s Kalorama neighborhood. The dinner featured Portuguese cuisine and carefully selected wines. An after-dinner talk focused on the history of exploration, including Portugal’s key role in that history. The evening concluded with a tasting of some of Portugal’s finest wines under the guidance a renowned wine expert from Portugal.

    The Willard Hotel ballroom

    The Saturday evening black tie dinner, at which the awards were presented, was at the historic Willard Hotel in Washington. The evening began with a reception that included a silent auction. Many attendees had their photos taken with a live cheetah courtesy of the Cheetah Conservation Fund. The reception and dinner included a display of the wild life sculptures of ECWG member Bart Walter, FN ’08. The dinner concluded with a live auction.

    On Saturday morning, each recipient of the 2013 Lowell Thomas Award told the stories of his or her award winning explorations at a symposium.

    Other events included:

    • An opportunity to visit the National Geographic 125th Anniversary Exhibit: A New Age of Exploration,
    • A private guided tour of the historic Cosmos club  and brunch in the John Wesley Powell Room.
    • Tours of the Cheetah Facility at the National Zoo and at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
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    EC honors Marty Talbot with Lowell Thomas Award

    ECWG member Martha Hayne “Marty” Talbot, FN ’04 was among those The Explorers Club honored at the annual Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner at the Willard Hotel in Washington on Saturday, Oct. 26.

    Marty Talbot

    She was recognized as a pioneering conservationist for her 56-year dedication to ecological research in more than 60 countries on four continents.

    Others  honored at the dinner were:

    Neurophysiologist S. Allen Counter, FN ’89…for his research leading to the discovery of African-descended people living in the rainforest of Suriname and the Andean mountains, and for his work to ensure proper recognition of African-American Matthew Henson’s contributions to Arctic exploration.

    Kara tribal member Lale Labuko and world-renowned photographer John Rowe. for their establishment of Omo Child, a foundation that rescues and cares for children located in the Omo River Valley region of Southwest Ethiopia.

    Marine ecologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala for his work to protect the last pristine marine ecosystems worldwide and to develop new business models for marine conservation.

    Visionary businessman, media mogul, and conservationist Ted Turner for his contributions to creating an optimal future for us all, through philanthropic initiatives to produce a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world.

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    A ‘Space Odyssey’ at ECWG September dinner

    Fred I. Ordway III, a NASA scientist who was a technical advisor  to the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” described his role in ensuring  the movie’s scientific accuracy at the ECWG’s Sept. 21 Cosmos Club dinner.

    The movie was filmed at the MGM British Studios, Borehamwood, north of London, during the latter half of 1965 and into 1966.

    Fred Ordway

    The photos in Ordway’s show were taken by director Stanley Kubrick’s studio photographer. They show key sets and the many distinguished consultants and visitors to the set.

    Ordway talked about the technically sound elements that went into the movie’s set.

    Those in the photos include Kubrick, author Arthur C. Clarke, NASA Associate Administrator George E. Mueller, astronaut Deke Slayton, anthropologist Richard Leakey, Oxford University artificial intelligence pioneer Prof. I. J. Good, and many more.

    Ordway’s show included the various fictional space craft and bases including the Orion space shuttle, Space Station V, the Aries IB lunar space vehicle, and the Jupiter-bound Discovery spaceship.

    Fred Ordway began his aerospace career in the early 1950s at America’s pioneering rocket propulsion company, Reaction Motors, Inc., in northern New Jersey. From there he joined Republic Aviation’s Guided Missiles Division on Long Island.

    In early 1956, he was recruited by the late Dr. Wernher von Braun for his ‘rocket team’ at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, Huntsville, Alabama. That team launched America’s first artificial satellite on 31 January 1968, four months after the Soviet Sputnik.

    The space race was on. Ordway transferred with the ABMA team in July 1960 when it became the new NASA-George C. Marshall Space Flight Center where he remained during much of the Apollo years before becoming a full professor at the new Research Institute at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

    In 1975 Ordway joined Dr. Robert S.  Seamans, Jr. (former NASA Deputy Administrator and later Secretary of the Air Force) at the newly created Energy Research and Development Administration in the Office of the Administrator. He remained until retirement in 1994 (by then ERDA had been expanded to become the U.S. Department of Energy).

    Perhaps Ordway’s greatest contribution has been to the popularization of space travel through dozens of books that he has authored or coauthored. He also owns a large collection of original paintings depicting astronautical themes. Ordway was educated at Harvard and completed several years of graduate study at the University of Paris and other universities in Europe.

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    LTAD photos available for purchase

    Copies of Lowell Thomas Annual Dinner photos taken by the professional photographer retained by the Explorers Club are available to view and purchase online at the links below. Each page lists categories of photos to view in the upper, left corner of the page. All of the photos are available for purchase in various sizes. You can view them at:

    The link above has photos from the VIP dinner at the residence of the Portuguese Ambassador on Friday evening.

    The link above has cheetah candid photos and cheetah groups photos from the Saturday evening reception at the Willard Hotel.

    The link above has individual, couples, and group photos from the Saturday evening reception at the Willard and photos from the Awards Program at the Willard.

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    Private space travel topic of November talk

    Brienna Henwood, who has trained trained hundreds of future commercial astronauts for space flight spoke on “Getting ready for private commercial space travel” at the ECWG’s Saturday, Nov. 23 Cosmos Club dinner.

    The dinner was a joint event with the Circumnavigators Club.

    Brienna Henwood

    Henwood is Director of Space Training and Research for The National AeroSpace Training and Research Center (NASTAR) in Southampton, Pa.

    The Federal Aviation Administration has approved NASTAR, which is a world leader in the design and delivery of civilian spaceflight training. Henwood will discuss what has been learned about how to safely prepare members of the public for commercial spaceflights.

    Those NASTAR has trained include passengers for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, and Space Expedition Corporation’s XCor Lynx.

    Henwood is a leading industry spokeswoman, who has been featured at events such as the National Suborbital Researcher Conference, International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight, and Sea Space Symposium.

    She has a multi-cultural background with family located on four continents, and is fluent in French and English and is currently studying Italian and Spanish. Henwood has a degree in Marine Biology from the University of California Santa Cruz.

    Emergence of commercial human spaceflight enterprises introduces a host of new tourism, research, and educational opportunities. Ways to inform, protect, and train future space travelers for their personal and professional mission objectives in extreme environments are critical.

    National AeroSpace Training and Research Center Web site

    Forthcoming ECWG Events:

    December 7, 2013: ECWG Annual Meeting and Black Tie Dinner meeting at the Cosmos Club with the Antarctican Society and the Society of Woman Geographers.

    January 18, 2013: Dinner meeting at the Cosmos Club

    February 22, 2014: Dinner meeting at the Cosmos Club

    April 12, 2014: Dinner meeting at the Cosmos Club

    May 17, 2014: Dinner meeting at the Cosmos Club

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    Search for human origins topic of December talk

    Professor Lee Berger, an Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society gave the first public lecture on his latest findings about early hominins at the ECWG’s annual black tie dinner at the Cosmos Club on Saturday, Dec. 7.

    Berger talked about the results of the recent Rising Star Expedition, which was rapidly assembled during October 2013 to recover ancient hominid fossils discovered deep in a South African cave. With remains from multiple individuals already identified, the find could add significantly to our understanding of human evolution, the scientists said. His report is expected to receive extensive news coverage when it is released.

    Rising Star was the first open access, “live” palaeoanthropological expedition, followed by nearly 1 million people on the web. It has resulted in the discovery and recovery of one of the most extensive fossil hominin assemblages in history and promises to add significantly to our understanding of the origins of humankind, the researchers said.The past half-decade has witnessed perhaps the most remarkable period of discovery in the history of the search for human origins. A field known for evidence largely based upon fragments, has now seen the recovery of more complete remains including a number of partial skeletons added to the fossil record.

    Berger is a Research Professor in Human Evolution and the Public Understanding of Science at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa and Fellow of the Explorers Club. He is the recipient of the National Geographic Society’s first Prize for Research and Exploration and the Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award.  His work has brought him recognition as a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and membership in the Academy of Sciences of South Africa His explorations into human origins on the African continent, Asia and Micronesia for the past two and a half decades have resulted in many new discoveries, including the most complete early hominin fossils ever discovered that belong to a new species of early human ancestor -Australopithecus sediba.

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    ECWG elects Board members, Board names 2014 officers

    Members of the ECWG elected the following directors of the Class of 2016 and to vacant seats for other classes at the ECWG’s December 7, 2013 annual dinner.

    Those elected to the Board were:

    The Class of 2016: Donald J. Gerson FE ’78, Joyce M. Johnson FN ’03, Cynthia J. “Cindy” Steuart MN ’13, Polly A. Penhale FN ’91, Arnella Trent MN ’10

    The Class of 2015: Ingrid Kohlstadt FN ’00

    The Class of 2014: Linda Perry FN ’13, Elizabeth D. “Betsy” Stewart MN ’05

    At its December 9 meeting the Board elected  the following officers:

    Chairman:   Robert C. “Craig” Cook MN ’01

    Vice Chairman:  John C. “Jack” Williams FN ’03

    Secretary:  Bill Runyon MN ’01

    Treasurer:  Bruce Blanchard MN ’78

    Program Director:  Frank R. Power MN ’93

    Membership Director:  Robert “Bob” Tallent FN ’07

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    January 2014 dinner talk was on whales

    Nicholas D. Pyenson of the Smithsonian Institution spoke on “The life and death of whales: new discoveries about the world’s largest animals” at the ECWG’s Jan. 18, 2014 dinner at the Cosmos Club.

    Whales, like other marine mammals, evolved from terrestrial ancestors. In today’s world, they are dominant predators in ocean food webs. How did this macroevolutionary story happen? Pyenson, curator at the Smithsonian and Distinguished Lecturer for the Paleontological Society, shared recent discoveries about the evolution of whales, based on his fieldwork in Iceland and South America.

    He will also showed  how new 3D tools can play an important role in sharing these discoveries.

    Nicholas D. Pyenson

    Pyenson is the curator of fossil marine mammals in the Department of Paleobiology in Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, with special expertise in the evolution of marine mammals. He grew up in both Quebec and Louisiana.

    While in college, he took a variety of field courses in botany, stream ecology, and human paleoecology (the latter which took him to Africa), convincing him that combining science and the outdoors (and especially with international travel), was a good way to spend time.

    After earning his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia before joining the Smithsonian in 2010.

    At the Smithsonian he tends to the world’s largest collection of fossil marine mammals, and he contributes to it with field programs around the world, including most recently on Vancouver Island in Canada, and with South American collaborators in the Atacama Desert of Chile.

    Pyenson thinks that marine mammals — such as whales, sea cows and sea lions — are ready-made vehicles for enhancing a deeper understanding of fundamentals in evolutionary biology and earth sciences. He is especially interested in using digital tools that can expand fieldwork, outreach and natural history collections all at the same time.

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    Smithsonian curator talked on work in New Guinea at Feb. 22 dinner

    Joshua Bell, Curator of Globalization and Anthropology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, spoke on “World Within: Transformations in the Art and Culture of the Purari Delta of Papua New Guinea at the Feb. 22, 2014 ECWG Cosmos Club dinner.

    Joshua A Bell

    Bell has worked with communities in the Purari Delta of Papua New Guinea since 2000 documenting their engagement with, and the social, ecological and economic impacts of, large-scale logging and oil and gas exploration.

    Through this work he is particularly concerned with transforming notions of history, identity and materiality, as well as how communities’ traditional knowledge are shifting. Bell’s talk will focus on the knowledge embodied in the incredible art forms and rituals of the Purari Delta, as well as how new forms of museum based collaboration can help communities struggling to retain and use this knowledge in the wake of global change.

    Bell is Director of Recovering Voices, a pan-Smithsonian initiative dedicated to documenting and revitalizing endangered languages and supporting global language and knowledge diversity.

    Combining ethnographic fieldwork with research in museums and archives, Bell’s work examines the shifting local and global network of relationships between persons, artefacts and the environment.

    He grew up in Philadelphia. While in college, he worked on archaeological excavations in Mexico, Jordan and Tunisia. During the latter excavation, he became more interested in the lives of the Tunisian workmen and their perceptions of the past and archaeology.

    Shifting to cultural anthropology at Oxford University, he carried out work on the cultural politics of architecture in Hawaii, before settling on carrying out his PhD research in Papua New Guinea where he lived for 19 months.

    After earning his doctorate from Oxford in 2006, he taught at the University of East Anglia for three years before joining the Smithsonian in 2008.

    At the Smithsonian he curates collections from Melanesia (New Caledonia, New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu), which is one of the most biologically, culturally and linguistically diverse regions of the world. In addition to his ongoing research in Papua New Guinea, he is carrying out research on the use and understanding of cellphones in the United States.

    Dinners are $55 each. Reservations must be received before noon on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 by Bill Runyon, 1812 19th St. NW, Washington DC 20009, phone, 202 234-7490 or email to billrunyon@earthlink.net

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    News briefs 1st Quarter 2014

    During the first quarter of 2014 the Washington Group had several members in various stages of field exploration and activities, many with an aqueous theme.

    Expert wilderness canoeist John Lentz FE ’97 addressed over 500 attendees at the annual Wilderness and Canoeing Symposium in Toronto, Ontario, where he presented his file of correspondence with the late Eric Morse, considered the dean of modern wilderness canoeing, to the Canadian Canoe Museum.  The Museum participated in the recent publication of John’s book of paddling memoirs, Tales from the Paddle.

    Rear Adm (ret) Dr. Joyce Johnson FN ’03 and former US Coast Guard Surgeon General deployed to the Philippines for three weeks as a Project HOPE volunteer immediately after the devastating typhoon Haiyan.  She completed a public health and medical needs assessment for the directly hit Camotes Islands.

    Piotr Chmielinski FN ’98 ventured into the Atlantic off the coast of Bermuda to check on Aleksander Doba, the 67-year-old solo unsupported Polish kayaker crossing the 4,700 miles between Lisbon and Florida. There was a question whether Doba was disabled but Piotr found him in great spirits with plenty of food resuming his voyage after consecutive bouts of rough weather despite poor communications.

    Dr. Lew Toulmin MN ’04, working in the Prime Minister of Vanuatu’s office, recently traveled to the Cameron Highlands hill station of central Malaysia, to further investigate the 1967 disappearance of Thai silk industrialist Jim Thompson, an American.  Numerous theories abound about this event which left no traces despite intense searches.

    Dr. Tom King FN ’02, senior archaeologist for The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) published a piece for the Huffington Post called Exploring Amelia Earhart’s Disappearance. TIGHAR has mounted several expeditions searching for the aviatrix. Tom King’s Huffington Post story

    The Tiputini Biodiversity Station in the remote Ecuadorean Amazon Yasuni Reserve was the destination of a site visit by Dr. Michael Manyak MED ’92 in preparation for sending the nationally selected Eagle Scout Biologist there this summer.  This is one of most highly biologically diverse areas in the world with the highest concentration of jaguars and ocelots.

    The year-end gala event was an excellent finale to a great year of programs and the new year started with a flourish for the ECWG.

    • Dr. Lee Berger FN ’13, National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence, fascinated the attendees of our annual gala with his presentation of paleoanthropology discoveries in South Africa, including that of a 1.9 M year old new early human species.  Lee had just returned from the field a few days before his trip here and shared the first reports of an amazing brand new discovery that will make world news when released.  One could not help but note the comparison to Professor Challenger reporting to the Royal Geographic Society in the movie Journey To The Center of the Earth.  A grand time was had by all.
    • Dr. Nicholas Pyenson, curator of The Smithsonian and Distinguished Lecturer for the Paleontological Society, presented recent discoveries about the evolution of whales.  Based on his research in Iceland and South America, he demonstrated how new 3-D tools play an important role in the dissemination of information surrounding the terrestrial to marine evolution of these dominant predators.
    • Dr. Joshua Bell, spoke about the knowledge embedded in the intricate art forms and rituals of the Purari Delta inhabitants of Papua New Guinea.  A Smithsonian Curator, Dr. Bell discussed the impact of habitat change with the incursion of logging and gas/oil development and how this affects the traditional knowledge and identity of these indigenous peoples.
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    2013 ECWG Exploration Grant awardees

    This list of 2013 ECWG Exploration and Field Research Grants for graduate students includes each awardee’s name, the university he or she is attending, the academic discipline, the research topic, and the location where the research will be conducted.

    Andrew Du, George Washington University, “The Tana River ecosystem as a modern analogue for ancient Hominin habitats”, Kenya

    Kristin Fisher, University of Maryland, College Park, environmental science and technology, “Ureolytic microbial community composition in Maryland soils:  a missing link in understanding landscape”, Maryland

    Elizabeth Flood, University of Virginia, music, “On being country: the culture of musical practice in Asheville, North Carolina”, North Carolina

    Sean Furmage, American University, anthropology, “Conservation and community: a visual ethnography of elephant conservation, pastoralism and nonhuman encounter in Samburu, Kenya”, Kenya

    Lisa Kuder, Hood College, “Native wildflower effects on insect-mediated pollination of soybeans”, Maryland

    Jason O’Bryhim, George Mason University, environmental science and policy, “Combining genetic and sociological techniques to evaluate the status of shark populations in Costa Rica”, Costa Rica

    Karen Odem, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, biological sciences, “Why duet? Exploring the function of female songs and duets in a tropical songbird”, Puerto Rico

    Rebecca Whalen, Georgetown University, Biology, “Assessing the role of habitat edge effects on salt marsh community and food web interactions”, New Jersey

    Chris Yakymchuk, University of Maryland, “Polyphase Orogenesis and Crustal Differentiation in West Antarctica”, Washington

    Lists of grants recipients

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