Month: January 2015

Sign up for ECWG Feb. 28 dinner talk on travel health, security

Sign up for ECWG Feb. 28 dinner talk on travel health, security

Dr. Michael J. Manyak, MED 92, who is a physician specializing in urology and expedition medicine, will speak on “Travel Health and Security: Key Points to Keep You Safe” at the ECWG’s Feb. 28, 2015, dinner at the Cosmos Club.

A cocktail hour will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the dinner at 7  p.m. Dr. Manyak will speak after dinner. More on Dr. Manyak and his talk.

The Cosmos Club is at 2121 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20008.

The cost for the dinner is $55 per meal and vegetarian meals are available. If you want to attend you should contact Arnella Trent by noon, Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015 via  U. S. Mail: 15 Willis Street; Cambridge, MD 21613-1618,Telephone:: 301.526.0822, or email:

She needs the information below:

  • Reservations for Saturday, February 28, 2015
  • Please reserve ______places for
  • Key Points to Keep You Safe, ” Speaker: Michael Manyak
  • Your name     _______________________________________________________
  • Guest name(s)     _______________________________________________________


Dr. Manyak’s Feb. 28 talk based on his experiences as physician, explorer

Dr. Manyak’s Feb. 28 talk based on his experiences as physician, explorer

Dr. Michael J. Manyak, MED 92, who is a physician specializing in urology and expedition medicine, will spoke on “Travel Health and Security: Key Points to Keep You Safe” at the ECWG’s Feb. 28, 2015, dinner at the Cosmos Club.

Whether venturing deep into a rainforest or into an urban jungle in a developing country, things can go wrong, very wrong. Those going on an expedition or ordinary trips face many potential pitfalls and anticipation and preparation are important parts of remaining safe. Dr. Manyak says health and security are intertwined and travelers must consider both. Medical issues are security issues and vice versa.

Manyak_cover martiniDr. Manyak is the lead author of a new book on expedition medicine and travel safety entitledLizard Bites and Street Riots: Travel Emergencies: Your Health, Safety and Security. His co-authors are Dr. Joyce Johnson, FN 03, also an ECWG member and a former Surgeon General of the U.S. Coast Guard, and Warren J. Young, who is Director of Security for the International Monetary Fund.

In his talk Dr. Manyak  shared his experiences and lessons learned.

Dr. Manyak is Global Medical Affairs Executive Director for GlaxoSmithKline urologic products and the former Chief Medical Officer for Triple Canopy, Inc., a high-threat security company. He is also a Professor of Urology, Engineering, Microbiology, Immunology, and Tropical Medicine at The George Washington University.

His many awards include The Explorers Club’s Sweeney Medal and the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. He is an associate editor of The Explorers Journal where his column on expedition medicine appears. He is a consultant to members of the National Geographic Society and served on the NASA Aerospace Medicine and Occupational Health Advisory Committee. He is Senior Medical Advisor to Global Rescue, Inc.

His Explorers Club activities include serving on The Explorers Club Board of Directors for a decade, serving on the Flag and Honors Committee for eight years, and chairing the Science Advisory Board.

More about Dr. Manyak

During his long career as an explorer, Dr. Manyak:

  • led a scientific expedition to the Central African Ndoki rain forest in
    Dr. Michael Manyak
    Dr. Michael Manyak

    collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund

  • dived on the Spanish treasure galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha in search of artifacts
  •  served as the ship physician on the icebreaker MV Polar Star for an Antarctic expedition with Students On Ice
  • dove to the Titanic wreck site in the Russian MIR submersible while serving as the medical director for the RMS Titanic salvage expedition
  •  was the medical officer on an expedition to the deepest canyon in the world in Peru
  • was on the first scientific dive in Mongolia in Asia’s second largest lakewas on an participated in an expedition to evaluate a new spectacular finding of early human footprints in Tanzania
  • rode camels in the Gobi Desert observing the very highly endangered wild camel.




Forthcoming 2015 ECWG Cosmos Club Dinners, speakers not yet announced: April 4, May 16, September. 19, November 21, and December 5.

2014 Exploration and Field Research Grant Recipients

2014 Exploration and Field Research Grant Recipients

Rebecca Biermann, M.A, George Washington University, Anthropology,

Study title: New Approaches to Understanding Human Behavioral Evolution from Stone Artifacts: Applying Photogrammetry at Olorgesailie, Kenya.

Description: Stone tools constitute the majority of archaeological remains from the Pleistocene and can provide insights into the evolution of humans and their behavior. The goal of much analysis of lithic artifacts is to understand the extent to which both the production of stone tools and their resulting forms were standardized.

Depending on degree of complexity, standardization can indicate social learning, complex imitation and the transmission of social knowledge. Although humans with modern cognitive abilities consistently produce standardized tools in many contexts, the degree of standardization prior to the emergence of Homo sapienshas been questioned, particularly with respect to tools known as scrapers for their relatively steeply-angled smooth edges.

Although standardization is difficult to quantify, new digital and statistical methods for analyzing three-dimensional shape are being developed by this investigator and others. The proposed research will model scrapers from Olorgesailie, Kenya, dating to more than 200,000 years ago, using photogrammetric three-dimensional methodology, and will subsequently analyze them using Fourier analysis, a statistical shape analysis. These techniques will allow us to quantify and analyze shape in a three-dimensional space, and will provide improved insights into the cognitive abilities of our pre-Homo sapiens ancestors.

Lee Bloch, PhD, University of Virginia, Anthropology

The North Florida Mounds Oral History Project: Muskogee (Creek) Perspectives on Ancestral Landscapes

Mound building in North Florida represents an ancient Native American tradition, reaching its greatest material intensity at the Mississippian period Lake Jackson site (1100-1500 CE). Members of a descendant Muskogee (Creek) community local to the area regularly visit and even follow archaeological research on these ancestral places, which are an important part of their heritage.

Over the summer of 2014, I will document and analyze the community’s oral histories about these mound landscapes. This study is a step in my doctoral research, which applies collaborative archaeological and ethnographic methods to the investigation of Muskogee relationships to and interpretations of ancestral material culture and landscapes.

In addition to documentation, my summer research will identify underlying structures embedded in Muskogee oral histories such as generic and symbolic conventions, social contexts, and notions of temporality. Studying these elements on their own terms will enable me to integrate Indigenous knowledge and archaeological research without reducing the cultural differences between these two ways of knowing the past. This research refines archaeological models of ancient Native peoples and contributes to the emergent fields of collaborative archaeologies that rethink archaeological theory and practice by involving Native communities, cultural knowledge, and oral traditions.

Huan Cui, PhD, University of Maryland, Geology

Searching for Early Animal Skeletons and Reconstructing the Biogeochemical Fuse to the Cambrian Explosion from the Ediacaran Dengying Formation, South China

The sudden diversification of animal life in the Cambrian Explosion around 530 million years ago is arguably one of the most important biological watersheds in Earth’s long history. The driving mechanisms that lead to the evolutionary big bang, however, are still incompletely understood. One thrust of my research in Geobiology is in understanding the fossil record and possible environmental drivers for this biological revolution.

The field site I want to investigate is a rock unit called Dengying Formation in Three Gorges Area of South China. Previous study reveals that this rock unit was deposited between 551 and 541 million years ago, in the dawn of the animal life Cambrian Explosion. Numerous fossils have been discovered in this rock unit, representing the earliest group of animals with skeletons evolved in Earth history.

With the goal of a better understanding of early animal evolution, I plan to conduct field investigation with my advisor and colleagues. During the field trip, I will systematically collect rock samples in high resolution for further paleontological and geochemical analysis in University of Maryland and Virginia Tech.

Scott Martin, MS, Towson University, Biology

Response of an Ecosystem Engineer to large-scale Dune Construction: Implication for Coastal Wildlife

Due to climate change an increase in the intensity of coastal storms and sea level rise puts both human developments and coastal habitat at risk. In areas where coastal retreat threatens human developments sea walls are commonly used as a mitigation method. High rates of coastal erosion in front of these structures are noted.  The loss of sandy beaches is a major management problem; alternative techniques may protect human interests and biodiversity. One method is construction of dunes to prevent over wash of coastal habitat, but the effects of these dunes on coastal wildlife needs more research.

Following Hurricane Sandy, NASA began constructing a large dune to protect the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). KSC is a biodiversity hotspot in the United States and has large colonies of gopher tortoises, a state threatened species, in coastal habitat. Gopher tortoises are ecosystem engineers; their burrows are used by over 300 commensal species. My study proposes to monitor the recolonization of the constructed dune and an older pilot dune to see how tortoises use the dunes. If colonization is rapid, and gopher tortoises form resident colonies, such methods may protect human interests and biodiversity along coastlines in the American Southeast.

Christopher Shephard, PhD, College of William and Mary, Anthropology

The Materiality of Politics: Tracking Movement, Meaning, and Mollusks in the Algonquian Southern Middle Atlantic (A.D. 900-1680)

Recent scholarship on the pre-Columbian exchange of “wealth” objects in the Middle Atlantic has emphasized the role of copper (and its circulation) in producing the Native chiefly political economies that mark Late Woodland and Contact Periods (A.D. 900 – 1680). Much less, however, has been written about shell beads that are not only more abundant in the region’s archaeological record, but are often found in association with copper in various ceremonial contexts. The exchange of these objects as gifts at public events created social obligations and bound individuals and societies into repetitive cycles of exchange. Through the use of Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS), this study seeks to: 1) identify potential shell bead production zones throughout the Chesapeake region, and 2) assess evidence of trade between coastal societies and those who resided in western portions of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. A relatively new technique, ICP-MS offers a means of analyzing the elemental constitution of shell objects and potentially linking them to the unique watershed within which they originated. The overall goal of the study is to expose a previously unknown craft industry within the region and assess the exchange networks that were created as a result.

ECWG Dinner talk was on explorer’s fatal encounter with cannibals

ECWG Dinner talk was on explorer’s fatal encounter with cannibals

Since Michael Rockefeller, the son of Nelson Rockefeller, disappeared in New Guinea in 1961 his powerful, influential family and others have been guessing and advancing theories about what happened.

Carl Hoffman

At the Explorers Club Washington Group’s Jan.17, 2015 Cosmos Club dinner award-winning journalist Carl Hoffman’s talk “Savage Harvest” described the startling new evidence he found that implies that a local Asmat ethnic group killed and ceremonially ate the young Rockefeller. The Asmat are a tribe of warriors whose complex culture was built around sacred, reciprocal violence, head hunting, and ritual cannibalism.

Hoffman, FN 14,  is the author of the critically acclaimed books Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism and Michael Rockefellers Tragic Quest for Primitive Art and also The Lunatic Express: Discovering the World Via Its Most Dangerous Buses, Boats, Trains and Planes.

Savage Harvest debuted on the New York Times bestseller list and was named a New York Times “editor’s pick.” To untangle what happened to the son of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Hoffman learned to speak Indonesian and lived in a remote village amidst 10,000 square miles of road-less swamp with a tribe of former headhunters and cannibals on the southwest coast of New Guinea.

A contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler and a former contributing editor for Wired, Hoffman has traveled to more than 75 countries on assignment for Outside; Smithsonian; National Geographic Adventure; ESPN, the Magazine; Wired; Men’s Journal; Popular Mechanics and many other publications.

Hoffman has won four Lowell Thomas Awards from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation and two North American Travel Journalism Awards. He is a native of Washington, D.C. and the father of three.