The Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Awards Weekend – SATURDAY MORNING AWARDEE PRESENTATIONS

The Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Awards Weekend – SATURDAY MORNING AWARDEE PRESENTATIONS

National Geographic Grosvenor Auditorium
Saturday, October 12, 2019, starting at 8:30am


Robert L. Fisher, Ph.D., HON ’88 is a research geologist emeritus in the Geological Research Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. His life’s work involves over half a century of in-depth seafloor/crustal exploration, specifically regarding the composition, crustal structure, and actual topography underlying the Pacific and Indian Oceans. From that shipboard work, by mid-1959 he established that at 10,915±10 meters Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench was the world’s deepest; this maximum was confirmed six months later by manometer on the bathyscaph Trieste. Bob Fisher Ridge, a wholly-submerged mountain range of Sierra Nevada dimensions south of Madagascar is named for him.

David L. Mearns, OAM, FI ‘91, is a chartered marine scientist, historical researcher, author, and expedition leader of deep ocean projects. He is one of the worlds most experienced and successful deep-sea shipwreck hunters, having located 24 major shipwrecks with an overall success rate of 89%. Mearns’s most important discoveries include HMAS Sydney and AHS Centaur for which he was awarded an honorary Medal of the Order of Australia. He has travelled to more than 50 countries and is a long-standing fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Bruce F. Molnia, Ph.D., FN ’80 has more than five decades of experience in exploration, research, community service, communication, public policy, and education. Currently the Senior Science Advisor for National Civil Applications for the U.S. Geological Survey National Civil Applications Center, Molnia has conducted extensive research in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic marginal seas, as well as in Alaska, where his work has focused on understanding the response of glaciers to changing climate and the dynamics of tidewater. Among many awards and public recognitions for his service, Molnia is a recipient of the Antarctic Service Medal.

Joseph M. Rohde FN ’10 is a Creative Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering. He is known for leading the team that conceptualized, designed, and built Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Through that process he was instrumental in the development of the Disney Conservation Fund. Rohde has also participated in a number of research expeditions on behalf of Disney to countries all over the world. He speaks regularly on the art of cultivating creative innovation through narrative framing, and has spoken at NASA, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the TED conference, as well as many other venues.


Ellen R. Stofan, Ph.D., FN ’17 is currently the John and Adrienne Mars Director at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. She has over25 years of experience in space-related organizations and a deep research background in planetary geology. She was chief scientist at NASA (2013–2016), where she helped guide the development of a long-range plan to get humans to Mars. Stofan’s research focuses on the geology of Venus, Mars, Saturn’s moon Titan, and Earth. She has published extensively and received many awards and honors, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.

Astronaut Frank Culbertson (Capt, USN, Ret.), is an American former naval aviator, test pilot, aerospace engineer and executive, and NASA astronaut. He recently retired as President of the Space Systems Group at Northrop Grumman and is currently consulting and supporting educational programs. He served as the Commander of the International Space Station for almost four months in 2001 and was the only American not on Earth when the September 11 attacks occurred. A veteran of three space flights: Pilot of STS-38, Commander of STS-51, and Commander of ISS Expedition 3, Culbertson has logged over 144 days in space and performed one EVA.


Emma Carrasco is the senior vice president of global engagement at the National Geographic Society, leading strategic engagement and outreach efforts with key stakeholders around the world to further the visibility, vision, and impact of the Society. Her responsibilities include the management of the Society’s most strategic partnerships, executive thought leadership, crisis and reputation management, and oversight of the internal communications function. Carrasco’s career spans more than 30 years in marketing, branding, media, and communications, working with various national and international brands including NPR, Univision, McDonald’s Corporation, Nortel Networks, and Fleishman Hillard.


Michael J. Manyak, M.D., MED ’92 is an explorer, author, urologist, and corporate medical executive. He is Global Medical Affairs Director for the GlaxoSmithKline urology franchise, and the Chief Medical Advisor for Crisis Response for Accenture. Dr. Manyak is a Fellow of The Explorers Club, served on the Board of Directors from 1996-2006, and received the prestigious Sweeney Medal in 2004 for service to the Club. He is also a consultant to the National Geographic Society and has served on the NASA Aerospace Medicine and Occupational Health Advisory Committee. Dr. Manyak maintains an avid interest in field exploration and expedition medicine, and has led or been medical director for scientific expeditions around the world.

ECWG and National Geographic Liaison: Lonnie Schorer & Krista Strahan

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