Festival Founders


Joe Grabowski is a science communicator and scuba diver working to inspire the next generation of scientists and explorers. He is the founder of the nonprofit Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants, which brings science, exploration, adventure, and conservation into classrooms across North America through virtual speakers and field trips. Since 2015, he’s hosted well over 2,500 live events connecting over a half a million students with leading scientists and explorers from over 85 countries. Joe is using technology to open the most remote corners of the planet to classrooms, sending textbook-sized satellite units into the field with explorers so they can live broadcast into classrooms from the most remote regions on the planet. In 2017, he was selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and shortly after became National Geographic’s first Education Fellow were he founded National Geographic’s Explorer Classroom program. Joe is a top 50 finalist for the Global Teacher Prize and is a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Explorers Club. An avid scuba diver for the past decade, he's always looking for an excuse to sink beneath the waves.


Paul Rose is a man at the front line of exploration and one of the world’s most experienced divers, field science and polar experts, Paul Rose helps scientists unlock and communicate global mysteries in the most remote and challenging regions of the planet. He is an experienced television presenter and radio broadcaster. With a proven track record in business engagements, Paul is a sought-after speaker, chairman, host and moderator for industry, government and NGO events. A Former Vice President of the Royal Geographical Society(link is external) and Chair of the Expeditions and Fieldwork Division, Paul is currently Expedition Leader for the National Geographic Pristine Seas Expeditions(link is external). He was the Base Commander of Rothera Research Station(link is external), Antarctica, for the British Antarctic Survey for 10 years and was awarded HM The Queen's Polar Medal. For his work with NASA and the Mars Lander project on Mt Erebus, Antarctica, he received the US Polar Medal. His professional diving work includes science support diving in Antarctica as the British Antarctic Survey's Institute Diving Officer. He ran the US Navy diver training programme at Great Lakes Naval Training Centre and trained many emergency response dive teams including the Police, Fire Department and Underwater Recovery Teams. He remains a current and active PADI Dive Instructor.

Production Guru

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Wes Della Volla is founder of the strategic storytelling and immersive experience innovation collaborative, Meridian Treehouse, an Emmy-award winning multi-platform non-fiction producer, as well as a Webby-award winning immersive experience innovator and designer, and recipient of the National Press Photographers Association’s 2021 Best of Photojournalism “Innovation” 1st Prize Award for his work on the Rolex and National Geographic Perpetual Planet VR series about the 2019 Chomolungma (Mt. Everest) expedition. He’s also a Board Member for the ocean science literacy nonprofit The Hydrous, an adjunct lecturer in Georgetown University’s Environmental Studies Department, and a Resident Immersive Experience Innovator at the Harvard University Innovation Lab. His company, Meridian Treehouse, which was launched earlier this year, has already partnered with Instagram and Brightest Young Things—an online magazine and event production and marketing agency—to produce a virtual community fundraising festival that showcased over 30 small businesses and creatives. It was responsible for executing the digital experience for Do The WERQ—a non-profit platform for unlocking the potential of the LGBTQIA+ in the advertising and marketing industry. Meridian Treehouse was also recently announced as an official creative partner for the launch of the LenovoEDU Community—a leisure learning platform. A hallmark of his career was the conceptualization and implementation of the world’s largest permanent virtual reality theater that transformed the outdated 400-seat Grosvenor Auditorium at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC into an industry-changing technical first, and his “VR Explorations” experience sold out three seasons in a row. 

Big Data Guy

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Dan Klein is an avid explorer, sailor, scuba diver and conservationist. He has been working with the UN Big Data team over the last few years to bring all the global environmental data together in one place. He lives in north west Scotland.

Your Hosts


Jesse Hildebrand is a Science Communicator from Toronto working to connect scientists and explorers with the public through digital and live events across Canada. He is the VP of Education at Exploring By The Seat of Your Pants where he's brought in over a hundred new speakers and hosted 600+ broadcasts since 2015. He is the founder of Science Literacy Week - a national science festival held across Canada every September and run through NSERC in the federal government. He also produced The Story Collider podcast in Toronto for three years, helping showcase the human side of science. Finally, he is a Royal Canadian Geographical Society Fellow and a member of the Explorers Club who took part in an Expedition to Madagascar in 2019.


Eleanor Drinkwater is an expedition leader and entomologist with a love of rainforests. Her work on invertebrates has taken her from French Guiana  where she led a project studying the largest beetles of the planet, to Honduras to look for the elusive jewel scarab beetle, and back to the UK where she recently competed a PhD on invertebrate personalities. In addition to her work on invertebrates Eleanor is also passionate about investigating and raising awareness about wildlife trade issues.

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Maynard Okereke, better known as the Hip Hop M.D.,  graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Civil Engineering.  He is an award winning Science Communicator, having received both the Asteroid Award for "Best Streaming Content" and the People of Change Award for his community outreach efforts.  His passion for science and entertainment, along with his curiosity for new innovation has taken him through an incredible life journey.

Noticing a lack of minority involvement in the S.T.E.M. fields, he created Hip Hop Science with the goal of encouraging minorities and youth to pursue more advanced career paths.  His background in engineering, acting, business, and credible work within the music industry as an artist, make him uniquely qualified to engage on a wide variety of topics from an entertaining perspective.  This is highly reflected in his weekly vlogs and daily social media posts which provide both humorous and informative #SciComm content.


Brianna Rowe is an adventurer, educator, digital storyteller. After fieldwork in the Arctic, East Africa and East Asia, she developed two online environmental education curriculum for K-12 students: Disappearing Ice and Disappearing Elephants. Currently, Brianna is a Director at the global education nonprofit Reach the World and an expedition leader at National Geographic Student Expeditions. She serves on the Boards of the New York WILD Film Festival and The Explores Club. 

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For the past decade Lizzie Rosenberger has worked in the field of education.  Her work has included teaching in the formal classroom in both private and public schools, at the Central Park Zoo as a conservation educator, as well as while on expedition in the rainforests and reefs of Australia and Belize; the glaciers and mountains of Iceland and Alaska; and the villages of Fiji and Botswana. Lizzie has designed STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) interdisciplinary units and curriculum for toddlers through 12th grade students as well as family programming. She has designed and led international experiential education programs and expeditions for middle, high school and college level students for National Geographic Student Expeditions, Avenues: The World School and The School for Field Studies. Lizzie is a NASA airborne astronomy ambassador for the SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy), a National Geographic Certified Educator, a member of The Explorers Club  and the head of education programming at Illuminarium Experiences. She currently teaches science at Buckingham, Browne and Nichols School in Cambridge, MA.

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It all began for Peter Ong when Dr Jane Goodall visited Malaysia in 2017 and asked the question “How are Malaysia’s primates doing?” Apart from the Orangutan, very little is still known of the 25 primate species we have in Malaysia. Peter began digging and became more aware of the threats Malaysian primates faced, he asked himself and some researchers what could be done to help as his background is actually in theatre, although he's always had a passion for photography.  It turns out, that’s what was needed now: good hi-res photos and more outreach work to be done. Many Malaysians have no idea how much biodiversity they have and most have never seen any other primate except for the Orangutan and the Long- tailed Macaque. That’s how Project Monyet (‘Monyet’ means ‘Monkey’ in Malay) came about. These images are used by researchers to help with their outreach work and publications. Malaysian youths are also engaged via the Roots & Shoots Malaysia Award to volunteer and help spread awareness of primates, as well as to introduce them to the wealth of Malaysia’s biodiversity.


Cayte Bosler is an environmental journalist, a conservationist, and a graduate of Columbia University where she earned her master’s of science to tackle complex and pressing environmental challenges.  Throughout her career she has researched ecology and wildlife in the Bolivian Amazon and Cuba; trekked to an extreme altitude ecosystem in the Peruvian Andes, and boated through the mangrove-filled estuaries of Guatemala — all to chronicle solutions to protect wildlife.


Stacia, who holds an MPA Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University’s SIPA, is a wildlife conservation policy specialist. She is passionate about utilizing policy solutions to tackle the illegal wildlife trade and better regulate the legal trade. Stacia currently serves on The Explorer’s Club Conservation Council and previously served on Wildlife Conservation Society’s Young Patrons Steering Committee. Stacia truly believes that the way we save our wildlife is through inclusive cooperation and collaboration. 

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Sylvia is the Online Community Manager for LenovoEDU AU, based in Sydney, Australia. Sylvia studied a Bachelor of Business at the University of Technology, Sydney and has dabbled in the world of Media & Advertising prior to joining Lenovo. Outside of work, lockdown has recently reignited her interest in reading and can be found holed up with her Kindle. Sylvia is also a big fan of Sir David Attenborough and places attending one of his live shows as one of her most cherished memories.

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Olga Lapina is the Russian Geographical Society International Affairs Coordinator. Her first encounter with explorers and advocates for nature happened at the Lomonosov Moscow State University where she holds two degrees from and she immediately started active cooperation with them to support and develop their wonderful initiatives on international level. Two years she worked in Europe and then joined the team of the Russian Geographical Society. Being the “diplomat for scientists”, she is passionate about running environmental scientific and educational projects and never misses a chance to connect and create new opportunities for inspiring people and making this world a better place.  

Behind the Scenes

Production Crew

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