Collaboration to amplify voices of underrepresented scientists and storytellers and provide leadership opportunities

LISBON, Portugal  — A new collaboration between Schmidt Ocean Institute and the National Geographic Society to advance diversity and equity among ocean scientists was announced today at the UN Ocean Conference. The partnership will provide seagoing opportunities to underrepresented, historically marginalized and local scientists and National Geographic Explorers.

The collaboration aims to strengthen project leadership, encourage career development, and amplify diverse perspectives in ocean-related work. This partnership aligns with both organizations’ commitments to provide equitable access to resources and career opportunities. Both Schmidt Ocean Institute and National Geographic Society have extensive expertise and years of investment in ocean sciences and exploration.

“We are proud to work with Schmidt Ocean Institute, which shares our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusivity, so that we can provide crucial resources to make ocean sciences research more accessible and foster a diverse coalition of ocean Explorers,” said Jill Tiefenthaler, CEO of the National Geographic Society. “The ocean science community, like other communities, is stronger when it is made up of a diversity of people who contribute their unique perspectives, new ideas, and innovative solutions.”

As part of the collaboration, National Geographic Society and Schmidt Ocean Institute will identify scientists and National Geographic Explorers representing different countries and identities and invite them to begin expeditions on the newly refitted state-of-the-art research vessel, Falkor (too). Opportunities will also be available for global participants through Schmidt Ocean Institute’s Artist-at-Sea and Berths of Opportunity programs.

Through this new initiative, the two organizations will provide participants with support and resources to strengthen their leadership in ocean-related work.  The organizations will focus on diverse early- and mid-career ocean scientists and Explorers to develop a forward-thinking, inclusive, and equitable community of researchers.

“As in the practice of so many sciences, the study of marine ecosystems has been missing the perspectives of researchers from communities of color and countries in the Global South,” said Wendy Schmidt, co-founder with her husband Eric, of Schmidt Ocean Institute and president of the Schmidt Family Foundation. “We look forward to joining the National Geographic Society in welcoming all aboard in the essential and deeply collaborative work of exploring and understanding our ocean.” 

The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development launched in 2021, and focuses on strengthening scientific research and innovative technologies, as well as engaging different stakeholders. The collaboration between National Geographic Society  and Schmidt Ocean Institute I addresses this exact goal, and the two organizations will work together to increase capacities and representation of diverse scientists and storytellers by providing opportunities that encourage career growth.

“The ocean is critical to life on this planet and to understand it and maintain its health, we need knowledgeable scientists from all countries. We are delighted to partner with the National Geographic Society to enhance that critical international capacity in the ocean sciences, and also address the goals of the UN Decade of Ocean Science,” said Dr. Jyotika Virmani, executive director of Schmidt Ocean Institute. ”We look forward to providing an opportunity for scientists and Explorers from around the world to access the ocean through our new state-of-the-art research vessel, Falkor (too) to explore and understand our vast and global ocean.” 


Schmidt Ocean Institute was established in 2009 by Eric and Wendy Schmidt to advance oceanographic research through the development of innovative technologies, open sharing of information, and broad communication about ocean health. It operates Falkor (too), the only year-round philanthropic research vessel in the world that is made available to the international science community at no cost. For more information, visit


The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 15,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit or follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.