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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. 

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