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David Maxwell Braun

of National Geographic Society

Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media.

Assignments in 80 countries/territories included visits to a secret rebel base in Angola, Sahrawi camps in Algeria, and Wayana villages in the remote Amazon. Braun traveled with Nelson Mandela on the liberation leader's Freedom Tour of North America, accompanied President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton to their foundation's projects in four African countries and Mexico, covered African peace talks chaired by Fidel Castro in Havana and Boutros Boutros-Ghali in Cairo, and collaborated with Angelina Jolie at World Refugee Day events in Washington, D.C. As a member of the National Geographic Expeditions Council, and media representative to the Society's Committee for Research and Exploration, he joined researchers on field inspections in many parts of the world.

Braun has been a longtime member/executive of journalist guilds, press clubs, and professional groups, including the National Press Club (Washington) and editorial committee of the Online Publishers Association. He served as WMA Magazine of the Year Awards judge (2010-2012), advisory board member of Children's Eyes On Earth International Youth Photography Contest (2012), and multimedia/communications affiliate of the International League of Conservation Photographers (2015-2016).

National Geographic Career (1997-Present)

David Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.

He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 10,000 conversations have been posted, eliciting more than 50,000 moderated comments from readers.

Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship. Now in its fourth year, the Fellowship has drawn hundreds of applications from Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience.

Braun's earlier career at National Geographic included two years as Public Affairs Editor and 14 years as founding editor of National Geographic News. As Vice President and Editor in Chief of Digital Media (2007-2014), he was responsible for news, science, environment, home page, editorial services, blogging, newsletters, daily app, and sponsored content. He was the principal digital executive for planning and managing consolidation of digital media with the magazine in 2012.

He served on the National Geographic Expeditions Council, Editorial Council, and as a media representative to the Committee for Research and Exploration, Conservation Trust, and Big Cats Initiative. He was the senior editor responsible for the Great Energy Challenge (2011-2015). He edited the best-seller “Tales of the Weird: Unbelievable True Stories” (NG Books, Oct. 2012). He was a National Geographic Bee preliminary final round moderator for six years and a regular guest on the Nat Geo Weekend radio show.

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Uniting Against Organized Wildlife Crime

Law enforcement agencies, NGOs, and business leaders gathered from across the world in Washington this week to share information and expertise and organize a concerted strategy to combat the global scourge of wildlife trafficking.

The unprecedented collaboration was heralded at the National Geographic Society’s headquarters on Tuesday, at an event held against the backdrop of recent news of a catastrophic plunge in the last wild populations of African elephants and other species. The meeting also set the stage for CITES CoP17, a conference in Johannesburg at the end of this month that will bring more than a hundred governments together to review the planet’s biggest wildlife challenges and opportunities.

Catastrophic Declines in Earth’s Wilderness Areas Over the Last 20 Years, Study Finds

Researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology show catastrophic declines in wilderness areas around the world over the last 20 years, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said today.

“They demonstrate alarming losses comprising a tenth of global wilderness since the 1990s – an area twice the size of Alaska and half the size of the Amazon. The Amazon and Central Africa have been hardest hit,” the New York-based WCS added in a statement released at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii.

International Community Uniting for Wildlife, NGOs Say

All eyes are on government delegates attending the forthcoming 17th meeting of the Conference of Parties (CoP17), to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), opening on September 24 in Johannesburg. Many of the issues raised in motions at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii this week relate to illegal and unsustainable trade and to the impact of parallel legal markets for body parts of endangered species.

Tiny Spider Found Only in Azores Island Lava Tubes Assessed Urgently as ‘Critically Endangered’

In yet another example of a species well on its way to extinction almost before it is identified and studied, scientists and conservationists have hurried to assess a little-known underground-dwelling spider on the Azores as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species — at extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

Booming Seaweed Farming Exposes Producers and Environment to Risks, Experts Warn

The booming, multi-billion dollar seaweed farming industry could easily and needlessly drop into expensive pitfalls experienced previously in both agriculture and fish farming, the United Nations University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health, and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (a UNU affiliate institute), warned at the IUCN World Congress in Hawaii today.

Row as One to Save our One Planet, Obama Says at Start of IUCN Congress (video)

President Obama addresses the leaders of the Pacific Islands and representatives of the IUCN Congress on climate change, his expansion of the Papahanaumokuakea National Monument and other protected areas in the U.S., and his administration’s focus on clean energy. “We’ve got to ‘unite to move forward,’” he said, quoting a traditional Polynesian saying. “We have to row as one. If we do, we might just save the one planet that we’ve got.”

Great Elephant Census “Tells us we Must act, and Now”

The UN Environment Program (UNEP) deputy head Ibrahim Thiaw released the following statement in reaction to the results of the Great Elephant Census, which showed African savanna elephant populations declined by 30 per cent (144,000 elephants) between 2007 and 2014: “The findings of the Great Elephant Census show clearly that poaching is still decimating elephant…

Industrial Chemicals Accumulating in America’s Alligators and Africa’s Crocodiles

The latest warning light from the environment: Long-lived industrial and household chemical compounds associated with liver toxicity and reduced fertility have been found at detectable levels in the blood of both American alligators and South African crocodiles populating waterways a third of the globe apart. Two studies are first-of-their-kind examinations of PFAA levels in these “sentinel” reptile species, which the researchers say are especially useful for investigating the impacts of long-lived chemicals in the environment. PFAAs (perfluorinated alkyl acids) have been used in products that include water-repellent clothes, stain repellents, waxes, nonstick pans and fire-suppressing foams.

Is the Craving for Coffee Embedded in our Genes?

European researchers find a gene that appears to curb coffee consumption. This means that a person with the genetic variation would not need to consume as much coffee to get the same caffeine hit. “The results of our study add to existing research suggesting that our drive to drink coffee may be embedded in our genes,” says Dr Nicola Pirastu, of the University of Edinburgh.

Plant-Munching Weevil Helps Botswana Contain Weeds Threatening to Overwhelm the Okavango

Three decades after the first reports of the arrival in Botswana of Salvinia molesta–a free-floating, mat-forming water fern native to Brazil– scientists from the southern African country’s Department of Water Affairs say they are at last prevailing in the struggle against a weed that has come close to threatening the entire Okavango, Africa’s largest wetlands that is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to some of the world’s most endangered species.

Reprogramming Memory May Reduce Life-Long Fear of Spiders

Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden have shown how the effect of exposure therapy can be improved by disrupting the recreation of fear-memories in people with arachnophobia (the extreme fear or loathing of spiders).

How Lobsters Eat Jellyfish Without Harm From Venomous Stingers

Hiroshima University scientists examined lobster feces to discover that the crustaceans surround their servings of jellyfish in protective membranes that prevent the stingers from injecting their venom. The results inform aquaculture efforts to sustainably farm lobsters for diners around the world, the university said in a news statement.

Rainbows Reveal What’s Really Going on in the Sky, Researchers Say

Scientific understanding of rainbows highlights many practical applications of their interaction between light, liquid and gas.

Sunflowers Track the Sun, Like Solar Panels; Then Turn Toward the East at Night for Next Sunrise

Growing sunflowers begin the day with their heads facing east, swing west as they follow the sun through the day, and turn back to the east at night. “The plant anticipates the timing and the direction of dawn, and to me that looks like a reason to have a connection between the clock and the growth pathway,” says Stacey Harmer, a plant biologist at UC Davis.

Humans Projected to Number Ten Billion by 2050s; Half of us Will Be Living in Asia

The world population will reach 9.9 billion in 2050, up 33 percent from an estimated 7.4 billion now, according to projections included in the latest World Population Data Sheet from the Population Reference Bureau (PRB). While Africa will see a doubling in population density in that period, several countries will experience a decline. There will be fewer people in Europe than there are today.