Awesome African Safari News and Information http://press.nationalgeographic.com/2016/01/27/george-stone-appointed-editor-in-chief-national-geographic-travel/

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WASHINGTON (Jan. 27, 2016)—George W. Stone has been appointed editor-in-chief of National Geographic Travel, where he will lead all of the travel content, including serving as editor of National Geographic Traveler magazine and spearheading National Geographic’s digital and social media travel strategy. Stone has worked as a writer and editor for Traveler for 18 years, most recently as an editor at large based in Singapore. He will report to Susan Goldberg, editorial director of National Geographic Partners and editor-in-chief of National Geographic magazine.

“George’s passion about the power of travel to transform lives and connect cultures is evident in his work as a writer and editor for Traveler for nearly two decades,” Goldberg said. “George has a knack for creating print and digital features that resonate with new audiences — and reflect his spirit of adventure and fun. I’m delighted that George will be working with our cross-platform team to help our readers and viewers explore the world with insight and energy.”

In addition to the print magazine, Stone will oversee National Geographic Travel’s digital offerings, including its annual photo contest and blogging network as well as its social media presence. National Geographic is a leader in the social media travel category, with nearly 14 million followers across all platforms.

At National Geographic, Stone has led several editorial initiatives including Traveler magazine’s “Travelers of the Year” list, which celebrates everyday people who travel with passion and purpose, and the annual “Traveler 50” project, which tackles the future of travel and intelligent urban design. Stone’s work has focused on travel and tourism issues ranging from conservation and sustainability to destination stewardship, cultural tourism, storytelling, photography, travel trends and emerging destinations.

“Travel is about discovery. It’s a social exchange on a global scale, an exchange that we can all access,” Stone said. “My goal is to empower our audiences to embrace travel as a tool for exploration, cultural engagement, creative expression and personal growth. I’m proud to build on National Geographic’s 128-year legacy of exploration to encourage our readers to wander near and far, to see the world for themselves and to make discoveries that enrich our lives.”

Stone has spent the last three years in Singapore creating editorial content and covering global travel trends and emerging markets. He’s worked to strengthen National Geographic Travel’s global brand by building new strategic relations with travel and tourism industry stakeholders and by fostering ongoing relationships with partners.

Stone is the author of two books published by National Geographic, “From Mist and Stone: The Folklore of the Celts and Vikings” and “Raging Forces: Life on a Violent Planet,” and one from HarperCollins, “Extreme Earth: A Journey Through the World’s Most Dangerously Beautiful Places.” He has written and edited articles that have received awards from the North American Travel Journalists Association and the Society of American Travel Writers (Lowell Thomas Award). Stone has appeared on NBC and CNN International, written television scripts for Investigation Discovery and created heritage travel initiatives for the United Nations Foundation. He is also a judge for the National Geographic World Legacy Awards and a frequent speaker at travel and tourism conferences.

A native of Toledo, Ohio, Stone has a B.A. from Kenyon College. Follow him on Twitter @travelerstone and on Instagram @georgewstone.

About National Geographic Travel

National Geographic Travel creates authentic, meaningful and engaging travel experiences through National Geographic Traveler magazine; National Geographic Expeditions; National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World; digital travel content; travel books; maps; and travel photography programs. National Geographic Traveler (six issues per year) has 13 international editions. National Geographic Expeditions, the travel program of the Society, offers a variety of unique travel experiences led by top experts to more than 80 destinations across all seven continents. Travel opportunities include family and student expeditions, active adventures, journeys with G Adventures, private jet trips and voyages on the six expedition ships in the National Geographic-Lindblad fleet, as well as photography workshops, expeditions and seminars. The National Geographic Travel digital group shares its inspiring and authoritative digital content such as trip ideas, photo galleries, blogs and apps with its @NatGeoTravel community of nearly 14 million. National Geographic Travel books bring readers curated travel advice, photography and insider tips. Follow National Geographic Travel @NatGeoTravel on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+.

About National Geographic Partners LLC

National Geographic Partners LLC, a joint venture between National Geographic Society and 21st Century Fox, combines National Geographic television channels with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic Studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, location-based entertainment, archival sales, catalog, licensing and e-commerce businesses. A portion of the proceeds from National Geographic Partners LLC will be used to fund science, exploration, conservation and education through significant ongoing contributions to the work of the National Geographic Society. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com and find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

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Awesome African Safari News and Information http://press.nationalgeographic.com/2016/01/21/nationalgeographic-com-showcases-south-australias-adventures-of-a-lifetime-in-new-editorial-hub/

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WASHINGTON (Jan. 20, 2016)—From camping with kangaroos in the Flinders Ranges and discovering the laneways of Adelaide, to cruising down Australia’s longest river (Murray River) on a houseboat, NationalGeographic.com today shares 30 of the most amazing adventures available in South Australia.  South Australia’s Adventures of a Lifetime can be accessed via the new dedicated online hub, at: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/south-australia-adventures/.

The hub is a result of an ongoing partnership with the state of South Australia, where each of the 30 articles featured showcase a unique experience in the region. In addition, the hub includes stunning photo galleries, an interactive map, a South Australia guide with basic information for those looking to plan a visit, and videos that bring the destination and its experiences to life.

“We are excited to share with our consumers the vast array of experiences South Australia has to offer,” says Kimberly Connaghan, vice president and publisher of National Geographic Travel. “We began this program by sending photographers, Dan Westergren and Spencer Milsap, on assignment in South Australia in November. The photographers used NatGeoTravel’s Instagram account (now up to 7.7MM followers) to create excitement about the project and the response was overwhelming. Shortly after posting, photos received over a million likes. The images capture the authenticity of South Australia, from its people to the beauty of the landscape and natural world.”

Says Rodney Harrex, Chief Executive of the South Australian Tourism Commission, “We are thrilled that Nationalgeographic.com has captured such a compelling portrayal of our state’s stunning vacation experiences. Their stories truly demonstrate that South Australia is a place that curious-minded travelers must visit.”

Additional experiences featured on the site include:

Live the station life: Staying in workers’ quarters on an outback cattle or sheep station
Hike the Heysen: Australia’s longest hiking trail
Sail away to Kangaroo Island: A refuge for wildlife, fine scenery and beaches off the coast
Track the outback: Focusing on the outback tracks of the northern desert region
Explore an ancient culture: From ancient Aboriginal sites and rock art to indigenous guided tours in the Flinders Ranges
Ride the Ghan: Australia’s most iconic rail trip from Adelaide north through the central Australian desert
Tour the wine trails: Explore South Australia’s renowned wine districts
Head underground in Coober Pedy: Stay in the famous opal mining town where the searing heat drives residents underground
Flightsee Lake Eyre: See Australia’s largest lake, a huge white salt pan when dry, teeming with life when deluged by infrequent rains
Ride a camel: Follow in the footsteps of the early cameleers
Cook up a storm: Join celebrity chefs for cheese making, gourmet retreats and world cooking feasts
Spot elusive wildlife: Wildlife parks and locations in the wild for sightseeing Australia’s weird and wonderful fauna
Whale watch: Best coastal venues for spotting southern right whales on their migration
Swim with the wildlife: Swim with dolphins or sea lions
Celebrate a festival: South Australia’s best events
Cycle the state: Best rides and trails in South Australia
Head for the hills: Escape to the city to Germanic Hahndorf and other towns of the Adelaide Hills
Fossil hunt: Overview of fossil hunting and sites such as Ediacara Hills in the Flinders, Emu Bay (Kangaroo Island), Naracoorte Caves, opalized fossils in Coober Pedy and more
Dive a shipwreck: Best wreck dives in South Australia
Walk the wilderness: From coastal walks to Flinders Range
Drive the road less traveled: Coastal, winery, hill and desert drives
Comb the best beaches: A rundown of beaches, popular and deserted
Learn about wine: Courses, tastings and all things wine
Explore local markets: From Adelaide’s bustling Central Market to regional repositories of local produce
Surf the breaks: From the Nullarbor to Kangaroo Island
Tour the outback: Four-wheel-drive tours well off the beaten track
Go caving: From the Nullarbor to Naracoorte, Aboriginal rock art and stalactites to technical exploration
Laneways of Adelaide: A tour of Adelaide’s rejuvenated streets and laneways such Peel Street, Bank Street, Leigh Street and Gilbert Place

On March 1, NationalGeographic.com will host a sweepstakes, offering a chance to win a South Australia Adventure of a Lifetime. The winner will receive a trip for two and get to experience many of the adventures listed above.

About National Geographic Partners LLC

National Geographic Partners LLC, a joint venture between National Geographic Society and 21st Century Fox, combines National Geographic television channels with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic Studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, location-based entertainment, archival sales, catalog, licensing and e-commerce businesses. A portion of the proceeds from National Geographic Partners LLC will be used to fund science, exploration, conservation and education through significant ongoing contributions to the work of the National Geographic Society. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com and find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

About South Australia

South Australia is home to Kangaroo Island (known for its abundant wildlife), the famed Barossa wine region, and the charming capital, Adelaide. The fourth largest of Australia’s six states, South Australia is located in the southern half of the country. Described as the “perfect host city”, Adelaide was named one of the “Top 52 Places to Go” in 2015 by The New York Times. Surrounded by parklands and home to just over 1 million people, the central business district is one square mile – perfect for exploring the popular museums, historic buildings, wide streets and renowned cafes and restaurants. The celebrated Central Market, the largest covered market in the southern hemisphere, bursts with atmosphere all year round. From fresh seafood to gourmet cheeses and baked goods – the market is a special place for locals and visitors alike. South Australia is also a haven for wine lovers. Over 60% of all exported Australian wines come from the state’s top wine regions including the Barossa, the Clare Valley and Coonawarra. Outdoor adventure activities such as hiking, diving and mountain biking are abundant in this nature-filled state. South Australia arguably has the most accessible native wildlife in the country. Thrill seekers can swim with sharks on the Eyre Peninsula or others after something a little less daring (but just as spectacular) can catch a glimpse of a sea-lion colony on Kangaroo Island. Known as the “Gateway to the Outback,” South Australia is also home to Coober Pedy, the world’s opal mining capital. For more information on travel to South Australia, contact the South Australian Tourism Commission at 323.503.4210 or visit www.southaustralia.com, and find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Awesome African Safari News and Information http://press.nationalgeographic.com/2016/01/20/squishy-robot-fingers-aid-deep-sea-exploration/

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WASHINGTON (Jan. 20, 2016)—During a 2014 talk on his exploration of deep-sea coral reefs, Baruch College marine biologist David Gruber showed a video of clunky robotic hands collecting fragile specimens of coral and sponges from the ocean floor. Harvard engineer and roboticist Robert J. Wood was in the audience — the two scientists were being recognized as Emerging Explorers by the National Geographic Society — and a lightbulb went off.

“They were using rigid Jaws of Life-type grippers designed for the oil and gas industry that were totally overpowered and were destroying things,” Wood recalls. “It immediately clicked that there was a soft robotics solution that may be viable.”

In the months that followed, the pair collaborated to design, fabricate and test soft robotic grippers for deep-sea collection of fragile biological specimens. Their recent expedition to Israel’s Gulf of Eilat in the northern Red Sea — a unique marine ecosystem that houses one of the world’s largest and most diverse coral reefs — marked the first use of soft robotics for the non-destructive sampling of fauna from the ocean floor.

The new technology could enhance researchers’ ability to collect samples from largely unexplored habitats thousands of feet beneath the ocean surface, areas that scientists believe are biodiversity hotspots teeming with unknown life. The soft grippers also could be useful in underwater archeology.

As described in a paper published today in the journal Soft Robotics, the team successfully developed two types of grippers and, in the process, demonstrated a new fabrication technique that allows for the rapid creation of soft actuators. Gruber and Wood funded their research with a 2015 National Geographic Innovation Challenge Grant. The Innovation Challenge Grants are designed to foster collaboration between two or more National Geographic Society Explorers.

Gruber, associate professor of biology and environmental science at Baruch College of the City University of New York and research associate with the American Museum of Natural History, explores deep-ocean ecosystems with a particular focus on organisms that display bioluminescent and biofluorescent traits. (Bioluminescent animals produce their own light; biofluorescent animals absorb light and re-emit it as a different color.)

When he wants to visit a coral reef below the maximum depth that human divers can tolerate, Gruber must rely on a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). But there’s a problem: The standard-issue robotic “hands” of underwater ROVs are ill-suited to collecting delicate coral, sponge and other samples. That’s because the equipment was designed for undersea construction and to install and repair submerged pipelines.

Manipulating and grasping fragile organisms from the sea floor requires something that can mimic the dexterity and soft touch of a human diver’s hand. Wood, Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and founding core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, recognized that soft robotics is tailor-made for the task.

Design, fabrication and grasping vegetables

Wood and Wyss Institute mechanical engineer Kevin Galloway set about designing two types of hands to replace the ROV’s factory-furnished metal gripper, each capable of gently recovering objects of different sizes and shapes. One, inspired by the coiling action of a boa constrictor, can access tight spaces and clutch small and irregular-shaped objects. The other, a bellows-style model, features opposing pairs of bending actuators.

To facilitate rapid in-field modification and repair, the team emphasized simple construction, inexpensive materials and a modular design. This meant they could try multiple configurations and make them in quantity. Harvard’s Office of Technology Development has filed a patent application on the team’s method for the manufacture of bellows-type soft actuators. The method is scalable, opening up a wide range of commercial, biomedical and industrial applications for this type of actuator.

The biggest design challenge, Wood said, was a lack of precise specifications. They weren’t designing a robotic arm to repetitively attach doors to car bodies in an auto assembly plant. The team had no way of knowing the size, shape or stiffness of the objects they would be sampling on the ocean floor. To approximate likely specimens, they visited the produce aisle and brought back an assortment of vegetables — celery, radishes, carrots and bok choy — tied them to a metal grate and dropped them into a test tank at the University of Rhode Island. After exhaustive tank tests, the devices were put through their paces at depths greater than 800 meters off the Rhode Island coast.

Field testing took the team to the Gulf of Eilat in May 2015. There they conducted more than a dozen dives ranging from 100 to 170 meters (558 feet, or as deep as the Washington Monument is tall). Most dives involved “catch-and-release” maneuvers to test system performance. But they did manipulate the grippers to retrieve samples of delicate (and relatively abundant) red soft coral as well as difficult-to-snag coral whips, bringing them to the surface undamaged in the ROV’s cargo tray.

Next steps

Simply collecting hard-to-harvest samples isn’t the end game. Researchers like Gruber hope to apply these techniques to conduct in situ measurement of organisms and, eventually, gene expression and transcriptomic analysis. Conducting this work on the seabed floor rather than bringing samples to the surface means that organisms are not exposed to stress from changes in temperature, pressure and light, and there is less disturbance to the reef system.

On the robotics side, Wood has a list of performance enhancements he hopes to pursue. Current-generation ROVs rely exclusively on visual feedback — a live video feed from an onboard camera — but he’d like to add tactile feedback, applying his lab’s expertise in soft sensors to let an operator actually “feel” what the gripper is touching. He is also interested in experimenting with bilateral rather than single-arm manipulation to achieve improved dexterity. Finally, the team wants to go deeper — literally. During the Red Sea dives, the system operated at depths under 200 meters. They envision conducting fieldwork in unexplored worlds 6,000 meters below the surface.

Along with Gruber and Wood, coauthors of the paper include Galloway, Harvard SEAS graduate student Kaitlyn Becker, University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography students Brennan Phillips and Jordan Kirby, University of Rhode Island Assistant Professor of Ocean Engineering Stephen Licht and Dan Tchernov, marine biology department head at the University of Haifa.

Funding for the research was provided by a National Geographic Innovation Challenge Grant and by the National Science Foundation (10400321).

About the National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization driven by a passionate belief in the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to change the world. The Society funds hundreds of research and conservation projects around the globe each year and works to inspire, illuminate and teach through scientific expeditions, award-winning journalism and education initiatives. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.org and find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

NOTE: For photos and video related to the National Geographic Society/Squishy Robot Fingers announcement, please contact Claire Gwatkin Jones at cgjones@ngs.org.

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Awesome African Safari News and Information http://press.nationalgeographic.com/2016/01/20/national-geographic-partners-claudia-malley-chief-marketing-brand-officer/

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NEW YORK (Jan. 20, 2016)—Claudia Malley has been named Chief Marketing and Brand Officer (CMBO), National Geographic Partners, heading Brand Marketing, Membership and Market Research. Her appointment was announced by Declan Moore, National Geographic Partners CEO, to whom Malley reports. John Campbell has been appointed Senior Vice President, National Geographic Partners, overseeing all advertising and partnership opportunities across all digital and print platforms. Campbell will report to Ward Platt, Chief Operating Officer, National Geographic Partners.

“Claudia’s energetic leadership and proven track record working with our marketing partners globally — combined with her grasp and knowledge of what makes National Geographic unique — gives me great confidence in her ability to extend our reach and boost our brand power, connecting with consumers and commercial partners in innovative and engaging ways,” Moore said.

Malley was previously Executive Vice President, Global Corporate Partnerships, National Geographic Society, overseeing all global corporate partnerships and sponsorships. Through custom integrated programs and larger Society partnerships, Malley has worked to provide both consumers and corporate partners with new ways to interact with National Geographic. Platforms created include New Age of Exploration and Great Energy Challenge. She joined National Geographic in 2003 as Associate Publisher of National Geographic magazine. She became Vice President and U.S. publisher of National Geographic magazine in 2004 and Executive Vice President and Worldwide Publisher in 2010.

Malley has more than 25 years of experience in media brand management, sales and marketing, working across media disciplines including print, television and digital. She began her career at WNET/PBS NY, moved to Ziff-Davis and then to Rodale, where she was publisher of Runner’s World magazine from 1999 to 2003.

As Senior Vice President Global Media, Campbell will be responsible for revenue and partnership opportunities across all National Geographic print, digital and social platforms and events including National Geographic magazine, National Geographic Traveler, National Geographic Kids and nationalgeographic.com. He will work closely with Malley and Fox Network Group (FNG) Sales to build custom integrated programs and partnerships for like-minded brands and create new revenue opportunities across the portfolio. Campbell will oversee both domestic and international sales teams, ad operations and planning, working with FNG offices globally.

Campbell joined the National Geographic Society in 2007 as a sales executive at National Geographic Traveler, quickly rising to Vice President, Global Partnerships and U.S. Publisher of National Geographic magazine and digital. Prior to joining the Society, Campbell was at Bonnier Corporation as an Integrated Account Executive and before that, a Planning Supervisor on the Strategy Team at MindShare North America.

Both Malley and Campbell work and reside in New York.

About National Geographic Partners LLC

National Geographic Partners LLC, a joint venture between National Geographic Society and 21st Century Fox, combines National Geographic television channels with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic Studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, location-based entertainment, archival sales, catalog, licensing and e-commerce businesses. A portion of the proceeds from National Geographic Partners LLC will be used to fund science, exploration, conservation and education through significant ongoing contributions to the work of the National Geographic Society.

For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com and find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

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