Parcak named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer

Anthropologist Sarah Parcak wrote the first methods book on satellite archaeology.

Sarah Parcak, Ph.D., associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has been named to the 2012 class of National Geographic Emerging Explorers.


The program recognizes “uniquely gifted and inspiring adventurers, scientists and storytellers, who are pushing the boundaries of discovery, adventure and global problem-solving while still early in their careers,” according to the National Geographic website.

Each explorer receives a $10,000 award to assist with research and aid further exploration. The class will be featured in the June 2012 issue of National Geographic magazine and online at

“It is a huge honor,” Parcak says. “I am an enormous fan of National Geographic and all it does for exploration, education and outreach, so I am very excited about the opportunity.”

Parcak made international headlines for becoming the first Egyptologist to use infrared satellite imaging to identify previously unknown archaeological sites. She works from her UAB Laboratory for Global Observation to uncover — from space — lost Egyptian pyramids, tombs and even cities. She then travels to Egypt to confirm her discoveries through excavations on the ground. So far, she has discovered 17 potential new pyramids, more than 1,000 tombs and more than 3,000 ancient settlements.

National Geographic’s mission is to inspire people to care about the planet, and our Emerging Explorers are outstanding young leaders whose endeavors further this mission,” says Terry Garcia, executive vice president for Mission Programs. “We are pleased to support them as they set out on promising careers. They are innovators in their respective fields and represent tomorrow’s Edmund Hillarys, Jacques Cousteaus and Dian Fosseys.”

Parcak, who penned the first methods book on satellite archaeology, plans to use the funds to further her work in Egypt, where she will return for survey and excavation later this year.

The 14 other class members are U.S. cyborg anthropologist Amber Case; U.K. digital storyteller and zoologist Lucy Cooke; U.K. behavioral ecologist Iain Couzin; Mexican underwater archaeologist Guillermo de Anda; chemist Yu-Guo Guo of China; conservationist Osvel Hinojosa Huerta of Mexico; U.S. pilot and educator Barrington Irving; conservation biologist Krithi Karanth of India; Swiss crisis-mapper Patrick Meier; U.S. data scientist Jake Porway; U.K. guerrilla geographer Daniel Raven-Ellison; U.S. archaeologist Jeffrey Rose; engineer and renewable energy advocate Ibrahim Togola of Mali; and archaeologist Daniel Torres Etayo of Cuba.