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  • Who are the 2023-24 Explorer Series Speakers?

Who are the 2023-24 Explorer Series Speakers?

3 Show Explorer Series Speakers

National Geographic Live! at Des Moines Per­forming Arts is now the Explorer Series! The quality and passion behind this series remain unchanged. We are delighted to welcome another dynamic season of expert scientists, adventurers, and photographers to the Civic Center Stage.

Man climbing on rock

Mike Libecki: Global Explorer

Paddling with Polar Bears

January 30, 2024 

Why should you be interested in Mike Libecki?

Mike Libecki defines himself in two ways: as an explorer obsessed with climbing the world's most remote and untouched mountains, knocking off several first ascents every year, and as a dedicated father of an adventurous daughter who wants to save the world. National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, Dell Ambassador, and Adidas Athlete, Mike has completed 90 major global expeditions with the personal goal of “100 by 100.” He has summited from Afghanistan to Antarctica, Greenland to Guyana, Siberia to Socotra, and everywhere in between, making friends and garnering world-class adventures. Mike produces, directs, and films his expeditions using the latest technologies to bring his stories to life, including virtual reality elements that transport audiences to the far-flung corners of the globe. His travels with daughter Lilliana to all 7 continents, including Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, the peaks of Nepal and Peru, and polar bear territory in the high Arctic, have all focused on her interest in humanitarian and conservation work. According to Mike: "The time is now. Why ration passion? Dream big and climb those dreams."

Instagram: @mikelibecki

NASA Technology

Kobie Boykins: NASA Engineer

Beyond Earth: The Quest for Life on and Icy Moon

March 21, 2024

Who is Kobie Boykins?

In 2013, Kobie received a NASA Exceptional Service Medal, one of the highest honors given to NASA employees and contractors. Shortly after, he began his most ambitious project to date, serving as Chief Engineer on NASA's Europa Clipper mission, slated for 2024, which will send a radiation-tolerant spacecraft into a long, looping orbit around Jupiter to perform repeated close flybys of the icy moon. During the nominal mission, the spacecraft will perform 45 flybys of Europa at closest-approach altitudes varying from 1,700 miles to 16 miles above the surface.  The key question they seek to solve is whether the surface ice holds liquid water beneath it.  Where there’s water, there’s the capacity for life. When asked another reason why we need to know this, Kobie says, “From an engineering perspective, we now know Mars had liquid water on the surface, a lot like Earth.  Planetary evolution has caused that water to disappear.  We need to understand how that happened so that we ensure it doesn’t happen here on Earth.”

Seal underwater

Cristina Mittermeier: Conservation Photographer

Aboard Sealegacy 1: Documenting our Blue Planet

May 13, 2024

What more can Cristina teach of us about the ocean?

Born in Mexico City, Cristina has been a passionate advocate for our natural world since she graduated from the University of Mexico with a degree in Biochemical Engineering and Marine Sciences. After several years of field work, Cristina noticed that what moved people the most were the stories about what she and her fellow researchers were studying—not the actual studies. She realized that images and stories help us comprehend abstract concepts better than numbers and graphs and that understanding creates empathy, and empathy drives action. In 2014, Cristina would further hone her purpose and—together with her mission and life partner, Paul Nicklen—co-found SeaLegacy, a revolutionary non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the ocean.

In 2020, on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Cristina announced the most ambitious project of her career: “Only One,” a new digital technology product that amplifies stories, campaigns, and solutions that sit at the intersection of ocean health and social justice and uses the power of media and technology to inspire individuals to take action to rebuild ocean life. A Sony Artisan of Imagery, Cristina was named one of National Geographic's Adventurers of the Year in 2018. She is also the recipient of many awards, including the Mission Award from the North American Nature Photography Association and the Smithsonian Conservation Photographer of the Year Award.

Instagram: @mitty

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