The newly named National Geographic Explorers represent the next generation of influential
leaders, communicators, and innovators. Among the year’s recipients is Dr Sada Mire, a
Somaliland-born archeologist whose scholarly works have shed much light on Somali and
Horn of Africa ancient civilizations.
The National Geographic Society Announces the 2023 Wayfinder Award Recipients.
The National Geographic Society is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023
Wayfinder Awards. This year’s awardees include an Egyptologist, documentary filmmaker,
investigative journalist, biologist, urban ecologist and other innovators, and were selected
for their exemplary achievements in exploration through science, education, conservation,
technology, and storytelling.
Wayfinder Award recipients are individuals who have proven themselves to be the next
generation of influential leaders, communicators, and innovators whose critical work inspires
us to learn about, care for, and protect the wonder of our world. Their groundbreaking work
covers a vast array of impact-driven projects including connecting youth to the ocean, using
innovative technology to track insects across landscapes, investigating critical
environmental stories, and developing equitable conservation solutions for poor
“On behalf of the National Geographic Society, we’re proud to name these 15 trailblazers as
2023 Wayfinder Award recipients for their exceptional contributions on a local and global
scale,” said Alexander Moen, chief explorer engagement officer at the National Geographic
Society. “We’re thrilled to celebrate each of these individuals at Base Camp headquarters in
June for our annual Explorers Festival where we’ll recognize their remarkable achievements
that bring our mission to life.”
The Wayfinder Award recipients join the Society’s global community of National Geographic
Explorers and each receive a monetary prize to support their work.
Meet these audacious Explorers:
Dr. Sada Mire is a Somali archaeologist, art historian, science communicator, and
presenter. She fled Somalia as a refugee, becoming a Swedish citizen, and holds a Ph.D.
from University College London’s Institute of Archaeology, where she is serving as
Associate Professor of Heritage Studies.
Mire is the first Somali woman to study archaeology, and for over a decade she was the
only trained Somali archaeologist working in Somalia and Somaliland. Mire and her team
carried out and published the first and most comprehensive mapping of Somaliland’s
archaeology and is the founding director of its Department of Archaeology.
She is also a cultural theorist who believes we need culture in times of war, as articulated in
her TED Talk ‘Cultural heritage: a basic human need.’ In 2021, with her book Divine Fertility,
she became the first archaeologist of non-European descent to win the SAfA Book Prize.
Mire’s other honors include being selected by the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts for
their 30 Global Writers and Thinkers for 2017-2027 and the New Scientist magazine list of
the Most Inspiring Women in Science of All Time. She is the founding director of Horn
Heritage Foundation and its Digital Museum, working on research and conservation of
heritage across the Horn of Africa.
Mire’s work regularly appears in international broadcast media with her as a presenter,
writer, or subject, including in The Guardian, CNN, Current World Archaeology, National
Geographic, Vanity Fair Magazine, Channel 4, Futura Channel, the BBC, The Sunday
Times, and New Scientist.