These explorers endured uncertainties and hardships to learn more about the world, further our collective knowledge base, and publish chronicles that continue to inspire, enlighten, and educate. While some commanded expeditions, many of these explorers played integral supporting roles, such as navigating, recording, photographing, illustrating, mapping, and collecting specimens.





Through methodical study, discipline, and rigor, these researchers explained the mechanisms and relationships that define our world and the universe beyond. They observed, classified, cataloged, and analyzed to gain insights that broadened our understanding of the natural sciences.




These educators have been key players in expanding our understanding of the natural world. Whether they helped the public understand scientific news or taught and mentored the next generation, these educators inspired people to learn more and reach further.




Through their chosen medium–be it visual arts, the written word, or some other form–these artists used their creative vision to interpret the natural world. Artist depictions can clarify, intrigue and inspire the public while making the subject matter more accessible and engaging.






Though the stories of these conservation actors span various disciplines and categories, they are all united by a common purpose. Through their dedication to conservation, these individuals worked to encourage responsible stewardship and conserve ecosystems and species worldwide.






Indigenous knowledge refers to the understandings, skills, and philosophies developed by societies over time. It is continuously shaped through observation and experience, customs, and cultural practices. Indigenous knowledge holders and stewards use their language, skills, and craft to foster a deeper shared understanding of the natural world.




These individuals provided the political and financial backing crucial for others within the realm of natural sciences to do their work. Without the contributions of policy makers and philanthropists, much of our collective knowledge would not have been possible.




Image Credits

Explorers: The 1871 Hassler Expedition. From Applied History Lab of the University of Rhode Island. Applied History, Cultural Landscape Analysis, Coastal and Underwater Archaeology.

Researchers: Bird Skins Treated with Arsenic. University College London © UCL 1999–2011.

Educators: Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, Autograph Letter Signed to Selma Münsterberg. https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/search/commonwealth:73667098g.

Artists: Illustration by Olive Pink. Archived © 2013 Olive Pink Botanic Garden.

Conservation Actors: “Gemsbok Group, Akeley Hall of African Mammals, 1970,” Research Library | Digital Special Collections, accessed July 24, 2018, http://lbry-web-007.amnh.org/digital/items/show/22932.

Indigenous Knowledge Holders: “Water buffalo and group of people seated in field, Yung-chang, Yunnan, China, January 25, 1917,” Research Library | Digital Special Collections, accessed July 11, 2018, http://lbry-web-007.amnh.org/digital/items/show/74056.