National Geographic Award Grant to Four Projects

Four innovative research projects have been selected to receive the inaugural National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants, established to support exploratory field work that may lead to breakthroughs in the natural and social sciences. The NGS/Waitt Grants Program, a collaboration between the National Geographic Society and the Waitt Institute for Discovery, is made possible by a grant from the Waitt Family Foundation.

The first NGS/Waitt grants have been awarded for a project to measure how two predator-prey species, ocelots and coatis, detect each other; for underwater research in the Sea of Cortez to identify clues into early human migration; for a study, using remote sensors, of the mating behavior of honeybees in Puerto Rico; and for a cave-diving exploration to map and protect Mexico’s underground rivers.

The NGS/Waitt Grants Program supports cutting-edge research projects in the initial search and exploration phase, when funding is most difficult to secure. Approximately 100 grants of $5,000 to $15,000 will be made annually to explorers and scientists in research fields such as biology, anthropology and the geosciences, who are working across disciplines and responding quickly to potential discoveries. Applications will be processed as they are received, and grants will be awarded promptly to help researchers take advantage of immediate opportunities.

“National Geographic has a rich history of grant-making that dates back to the Society’s earliest days. The NGS/Waitt Grants Program will allow the Society to support nascent initiatives and untested concepts,” said Terry Garcia, National Geographic’s executive vice president for Mission Programs. “It is our intent that when time is short and the stakes are high, NGS/Waitt Grants will ensure that opportunities for discovery are pursued.”

“We hope NGS/Waitt Grants will get intrepid and resourceful investigators out into the field where they will make exciting discoveries that otherwise would not have been possible,” said Ted Waitt, founder of the Waitt Family Foundation.

Part of the Waitt Family Foundation, the Waitt Institute for Discovery helps facilitate major discoveries that will improve understanding of humanity’s past, provide better opportunities for people in the present and enhance the promise of the future. By supporting leading scientists and communicating the progress and process of discovery, the Waitt Institute for Discovery educates and motivates a wide audience to work together to promote a better future. The foundation’s commitment to science and exploration also has included support of the Society’s Genographic Project.

Since 1890, the National Geographic Society has supported more than 8,800 projects and expeditions worldwide, including conservationist Mike Fay’s current transect through the California redwoods and the Enduring Voices Project to document and preserve the planet’s endangered languages. The National Geographic Society funds projects in a broad range of disciplines and fields of exploration — from archaeology to zoology — through its Committee for Research and Exploration, Expeditions Council, Conservation Trust and Young Explorers Grants. Information about National Geographic’s grant programs is available at

The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 300 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and five other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; music; radio; films; books; DVDs; maps; school publishing programs; interactive media; and merchandise. National Geographic also supports an education program combating geographic illiteracy.

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