May. 13, 24

The Eric and Wendy Schmidt Explorers Club Visionary Awardees

Introduced at ECAD in 2024 as an extension of our Annual Awards, the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Visionary Awards provide grant funding to support exceptional explorers in advancing their work in science, conservation, sustainability and exploration. Thanks to the generosity of Eric and Wendy Schmidt, the inaugural winners are…

Searching for the Source of Phosphorus at the Origin of Life

Dante Lauretta is a Regents Professor of Planetary Science at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and director of the Arizona Astrobiology Center. He is an expert in near-Earth asteroid formation and evolution and leads OSIRIS-REx, NASA’s first mission to collect and return an asteroid sample.

Return to Shackleton’s Endurance

Dr John Shears is a polar geographer and expedition leader. He has more than 30 years of experience working in both Antarctica and the Arctic, first with the British Antarctic Survey, then the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, and now running his own polar consultancy business, Shears Polar Limited. Since 2017, John has focused his work on the search for Shackleton’s ship Endurance in Antarctica. In 2019, he was the Expedition Leader for the Weddell Sea Expedition, and then in 2022 he was the Expedition Leader of Endurance22, which made the historic discovery of Endurance on 5 March 2022 at a depth of 3000m under the ice.

The Sacred Turtle Project

Callie is a leading marine conservation biologist and voice for nature who inspires and influences high-impact conservation measures using collaborative scientific research initiatives. Callie has a special focus on marine turtles and ecosystems, and works to connect indigenous and marginalized communities with government agencies to propose and achieve paramount environmental protections and advancements in the global recognition of the intrinsic Rights of Nature. 


Eric (FN’17) and Wendy Schmidt (MN’19 and 2023 President’s Award for Conservation Recipient) are proud to support the future of exploration and celebrate this year’s awardees, as they join the incredible legacy of The Explorers Club and continue to push the boundaries of exploration, on this planet and beyond.

“We believe we are living in a new era of discovery, one that is pushing us further into space, deeper into the sea, and knitting us more closely with our plant and animal kin on Earth, bringing us closer than ever to understanding the origins and nature of life itself. Eric and I are excited to see the new worlds these passionate explorers will discover.” 

Wendy Schmidt, president and co-founder, Schmidt Family Foundation and Schmidt Ocean Institute

Eric and Wendy Schmidt founded the Schmidt Family Foundation, Schmidt Ocean Institute and Schmidt Sciences. Through their philanthropy, the couple are working toward a healthy, resilient, secure world for all.

Applications are reviewed on an invitation only basis.

Header portraits taken by photographer Felix Kunze