Feb. 15, 24

Since 1914, The Explorers Club has recognized the world’s greatest explorers with exploration’s highest honors.

Greely, Amundsen, Nansen — Piccard, Armstrong, Heyerdahl — Goodall, Leakey, Hillary — Roosevelt, Sullivan, Walsh — the history of this Club is written in the legacy of the giants whom we celebrate.

Join us as we write this newest class of awardees into the history of human exploration, and honor them at our 120th Annual Dinner – April 20, 2024 in New York City.


The Explorers Club Medal

Rita Colwell

Dr. Rita Colwell has spent her career working on life-saving field research based around global infectious diseases, water, and health—particularly on cholera, elucidating its transmission dynamics and developing innovative approaches for its control. Colwell’s work has not only advanced our understanding of microbial ecology but also paved the way for practical solutions in public health, such as the development of rapid diagnostic tests and novel treatment strategies. This includes an international network that has brought attention to the emergence of new infectious diseases in drinking and bathing water, pertaining mostly to its role on the developing world.

Dr. Colwell’s multifaceted contributions include service as the 11th Director of the National Science Foundation, and her work has earned her numerous accolades—but it is her unwavering commitment to field science and her ability to leverage that determination to save millions of lives which has cemented her legacy as a champion for scientific advancement and social equity. 


The Citation of Merit

OSIRIS-REx

Dante Lauretta, Principal Investigator

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. On Sept. 24, 2023, the team’s spacecraft successfully delivered rocks and dust picked up from the asteroid Bennu to a landing site in the Utah desert. The sample includes pristine material from the earliest days of solar system formation.


The Citation of Merit

Endurance22 Expedition Team

John Shears, Expedition Leader

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.

Nico Vincent, Expedition Sub-Sea Manager

Nico Vincent is a subsea engineer, surveyor, and underwater vehicle manager with more than 30 years of experience on deep-sea projects, including the discovery and survey of many significant shipwrecks. He served as Expedition Sub-Sea Manager on the Endurance22 expedition. After finding the elusive Endurance, Vincent noted that “this has been the most complex subsea project ever undertaken, with several world records achieved to ensure the safe detection of the ship”.


The New Explorer Award

Callie Veelenturf

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.


The Sweeney Medal

Lynn Danaher

Captain Lynn Danaher has been a National Fellow of The Explorers Club for nearly two decades, since 2005. A lifelong mariner and intrepid explorer, Lynn has guided expeditions across seven continents, mastering the waves from Polynesia to the Arctic Circle. As a dedicated Explorers Club member, Lynn has led nine Flag Expeditions over the past 20 years, in which time she also chaired the Pacific Northwest Chapter, served on the board of Directors for six years, and led the Building Restoration Committee, responsible for the restoration and historic modernization of our beloved New York City Headquarters. Now, her passion for historic preservation drives her to renovate historic buildings in Hawaii and Washington State, adding new chapters to her the adventurous tale of her life.


The Buzz Aldrin Award

Frank Culbertson

Frank Culbertson is a NASA astronaut, esteemed Naval aviator, and seasoned private pilot. His illustrious career spans commanding groundbreaking missions aboard both shuttles and the International Space Station (ISS), totaling three awe-inspiring journeys beyond Earth’s bounds. Culbertson’s influence extends into industry leadership, where he has spearheaded the advancement of pivotal commercial and governmental space transportation systems. As an aerospace and safety advisor, his expertise continues to shape the trajectory of space exploration for generations to come. With an unwavering passion for space exploration and STEM advocacy, Culbertson continues to shape the future by sharing his extraordinary odyssey and invaluable insights with audiences worldwide, to inspire all humanity to reach for the stars.

The Buzz Aldrin Award

Daniel S. Goldin

Daniel S. Goldin is a pioneer of both entrepreneurship and scientific innovation. Holding the esteemed title of NASA’s longest-serving Administrator, from April 1992 to November 2001, he navigated the agency through a transformative era, earning accolades from three U.S. Presidents along the way.

Goldin’s tenure marked a renaissance for NASA, expertly steering its course post-Cold War. Through adept diplomacy, he forged groundbreaking partnerships that spanned continents, breathing new life into international collaboration. His stewardship was instrumental in the ambitious redesign, construction, and successful launch of the monumental $120 billion International Space Station, a testament to human ingenuity in the cosmos.But Goldin’s vision extended beyond Earth’s orbit. He played a pivotal role in shaping the blueprint for the James Webb Space Telescope as well, laying the groundwork for a revolutionary tool in our exploration of the universe’s mysteries. In the annals of space exploration, Daniel S. Goldin stands as a true luminary, his legacy etched in the stars as a testament to the boundless possibilities of human endeavor.


The Legendary Explorer Award

Rusty Schweickart

Russell Schweickart, affectionately known as Rusty, is a true luminary of space exploration. As the lunar module pilot for Apollo 9 in 1969, Schweickart’s valor and expertise earned him the esteemed NASA Distinguished Service Medal. Transitioning from his astronautic endeavors, he excelled as a retired business and government executive.

Driven by a fervent passion for space, Schweickart co-founded the B612 Foundation, dedicated to protecting Earth from celestial threats. His pioneering spirit also led to the establishment of initiatives like Asteroid Day and the Association of Space Explorers. Russell Schweickart’s living legacy is a testament to human ingenuity and a relentless pursuit of knowledge beyond the stars.