Category: Honors

Blanchard to receive EC Sweeney Medal

Blanchard to receive EC Sweeney Medal

The Explorers Club will present one of its highest honors, the Edward C. Sweeney Medal, to Bruce Blanchard, MN ’78, at the Explorers Club Annual Dinner, on March 21, 2015 at the American Museum of Natural History, in New York City

Bruce Blanchard, photo by Don Gerson

Michael Manyak, MED 92, one of those who nominated Blanchard for the award, said: I am very happy for Bruce who really does deserve this honor.

“The reason we championed this for him was that he was a great example of someone who had done so much for a chapter (in this case, the largest outside NY HQ) and that those folks should also be in consideration for recognition.  We are very pleased that Bruce will be the first with that important background.  He has also contributed and represented us at a national level so it is not completely regional.”

Blanchard was elected to the ECWG Board of Directors in 1995 and was elected Treasurer in 1997, a position that he has been reelected to every year for the last 18 years.

After learning of the award Blanchard sent an email to the ECWG officers and Board members to  “…thank all of you (and your predecessors) for your support over the years. Without that support, my job as Treasurer wouldn’t have been possible. All of you contributed to my receiving this award.  Most recently, individual support from Mike Manyak, Jay Kaplan, Lee Talbot, and especially Alex Wallace was instrumental in this regard. Your obedient servant ! Bruce.”

The Medal is awarded annually to a Club member in recognition of distinguished service, scientific work and exploration. The nominee must have exhibited by word and action a profound interest in the welfare and principles of The Explorers Club.

Luncheon honored pioneer hurricane scientist Bob Simpson

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 careers 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
EC honors Marty Talbot with Lowell Thomas Award

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.


Scott Wallace to receive Lowell Thomas Award

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.