Every Thursday at 11 AM, the grant program officers in my department present the past week’s worth of field reports, media coverage, and updates on grantees to representatives from all of our media groups. This meeting is the heart-and-soul of NatGeo – original NGS-funded research, conservation, and exploration being revealed to our extensive media network for possible coverage. People fight for seats at this meeting every week, and the program officers work Mon-Weds to put together a catchy presentation to “sell” their grantee’s results, photographs, videos, and other “media assets” to the audience. It’s an interesting gig – being the “agent” for scientists, conservationists, and explorers – but it’s always great to help promote someone’s hard work and passion.
One of the things I love about NatGeo is that having a PhD immediately makes you a person of respect around here. NatGeo is an NGO full of nerds and nerd-wanna-bes, and as a PhD, I am nerd-royalty! Well, my nerd-status might not be only because of the PhD, but I like to convince myself of that. I’ve heard that in certain companies and NGOs, having a PhD is sort of a curiosity – like finding out that a person has webbed toes or a third nipple – and can actually be the cause of gentle ribbing. Not here! Man, you tell people here that you have a PhD, or that you are actually a field researcher yourself, and they get all star-struck. It’s pretty hilarious! By my count, there are about 7-8 PhDs on staff here (not counting Explorers, Fellows, et al.)… but I’ve heard rumors of other hidden PhDs lying around.
In the afternoon I had a really interesting meeting with three colleagues of mine from outside NGS who specialize in the fight to save antiquities and archaeological sites from looting. I had asked them to come to NGS in order to pick their brains about who the major players are in this arena, and how NGS might get involved in this important struggle. It was great to engage with these brilliant thinkers and learn from them. Hopefully in the future you’ll hear more about NatGeo’s fight to save cultural heritage, but for now, this conversation is strictly “embargoed.” (See my fluent use of media-speak? It’s very catchy.)