SES Award Winners and Presenters 2014

The Awards are sponsored by Swiss watch maker Zenith, International removal company Cadogan Tate, the Rivers Foundation, the Rowan Bentall Charitable Trust and the SES Trustees. Outstanding applications were received from around the world, and winners’ projects include expeditions to the Arctic, Peruvian Amazon, coral reefs of Belize, Northern India, the Ethiopian Highlands and Nepal.

John Blashford-Snell was joined by some of the leading explorers of today including Neil Laughton, Andrew Mitchell, Pen Hadow and Rosie Stancer on 30th April at the Park Tower Hotel in Knightsbridge for the presentation of the SES Explorer Awards 2014.


Edward Cooper
An award of £8,500, a Zenith El Primero 36 000 VpH watch, and the exclusive title 'SES Zenith Explorer 2014' was presented by Col John Blashford-Snell OBE, to Edward Cooper, leader of The Haig Thomas Expedition 2015.

The Haig Thomas Expedition 2015
Recently a member of the Operations team behind The Coldest Journey, Edward Cooper is a qualified Remote Medic and member of the British Army Reserve. In leading this expedition Edward combines his previous expedition experience (Engelandvaarder 2011) with his two great interests of economics and human endeavour. The highly driven team (which includes David Haig-Thomas’ great nephew) have undertaken meticulous planning in preparation for this challenging Arctic expedition which retraces the steps of the Haig-Thomas Expedition of 1938. They have worked with local collaborators and UK based leading experts in Inuit Anthropology to ensure that the comparative studies carried out during this expedition produce valuable results.

Zenith El Primero 36 000 VpH watch
John Blashford-Snell has proudly worn a Zenith el Primero chronograph watch for over 40 years, proving the capabilities of the watch through the most testing of conditions. Zenith has always been about ‘Entrepreneurial spirit’, in its ability to come up with new ideas, and be a world leader in their technical development. Zenith watches have been associated with some of the world’s greatest adventurers, Roald Amundsen, Mahatma Gandhi, Prince Albert I of Monaco, Louis Leriot, John F Kennedy and most recently Felix Baumgartner.


Alejandra Bussalleu Cavero
An award of £5,000 and the exclusive title 'SES Rivers Foundation Explorer 2014, kindly sponsored by the Rivers Foundation, was presented by Neil Laughton to Alejandra Bussalleu Cavero, leader of The Shawi Expedition 2014.

The Shawi Expedition 2014
Peruvian Biology graduate Alejandra is a project co-ordinator at Fundacion Cayetano Heredia in Lima, where she is working on the Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate Change project. Alejandra has conducted field work using qualitative methodologies such as Photo Voice, interviews and participatory observation in order to characterize the factors influencing the vulnerability of remote populations to the adverse effects of climate change, and analyzed how formal and indigenous medical systems work and coexist. She will be presenting her work in different conferences in Canada and the United States. With an international team assisted by student volunteers, Alejandra’s project is to identify the main medicinal plants used by two Shawi communities, with whom she has already spent much time and established a mutually trusting relationship. She will build a medicinal plant community garden and ‘pharmacy’, as well as record the use of these plants in medical practices which will assist community members in the preservation and passing of knowledge to further generations, as well as to indigenous interest organisations.

The Rivers Foundation has for many years provided support for children and young adults, both in the UK and internationally. It particularly focuses on the education, social development and medical well being of young people. Alan Rivers, chairman of The Rivers Foundation is a long time friend and supporter of John Blashford-Snell and the SES, and has generously donated money to purchase and school books to be distributed by John during his expeditions as well as medical equipment and supplies. The Rivers Foundation also has an interest in development of the arts, culture and music, and would love to hear about projects involving development of these areas within their expedition.


Awards of £1,000 and £500 and the exclusive title 'SES Cadogan Tate Explorers 2014', kindly sponsored by Cadogan Tate, were presented by Rosie Stancer to Matthew Jasinski, leader of The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef Expedition 2014; and Olivia Taylor, leader of The Cambridge Zanskar Expedition 2014.

Matt Jasinski
Matthew’s 2014 expedition to carry out a detailed study of spatial scale dependence of biodiversity for the conservation of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef in Belize forms a major part of his PhD (University of Portsmouth). Matthew’s passion is in coral reef ecology. In 2008 he moved to Belize to set up, establish and secure ongoing funding for a Marine Field Station, from where Matthew has just returned having led a university field trip in Tropical Watershed and Marine Ecology. The research from this expedition will not only have a long-lasting impact on the future direction of MPA and coral reef management in the region, but also on understanding coral reef ecology and conservation throughout the globe.

Aiming for a career in climate change mitigation, CUEX president Olivia will be combining her love of ‘high places’ and interplay of physical processes and human spheres by leading this ambitious and multi-disciplinary research expedition which intends to learn about the social narratives of climate change in the Zanskar Valley, Ladakh. The expedition is made up of a team of 4 undergraduate students at Cambridge University, each from different subject areas and each therefore carrying out their own study unified by the theme of the social narratives of climate change.

Global removal company Cadogan Tate has been enormously helpful to the SES for many years, having moved stores to expedition equipment to destinations throughout the world. They have built a loyal following amongst individuals and organisations who expect the highest level of service and expertise.

Olivia Taylor


Jamie Forsyth
An Award of £500, and the title ‘SES Rowan Bentall Charitable Trust Explorer 2014’, kindly sponsored by the Rowan Bentall Charitable Trust, was awarded by Andrew Mitchell to Jamie Forsyth, for his research into 'Too Much and Too Little' - A study of Himalayan Hydrology 2014.

'Why does a country with one of the highest rainfalls in the world experience frequent drought whilst also suffering from periods of devastating flooding? The problem of too much and too little water in Nepal at different times in the year is getting more pronounced and less well understood with climate change. Working with experts and engaging students from Kathmandu University, Jamie’s expedition aims to produce a clearer picture of how Himalayan hydrology is changing in our changing climate by looking at how differing land-uses store and release water and how this affects water as a resource and as a hazard through flooding. This study will provide insight into the value of using different land-covers for creating 1. sustainable water resources and 2. sustainable flood management using natural rather than manmade options. By involving students in his expedition/study, Jamie’s belief is that changes in well-being can and often do materialise through empowering, educating and enthusing young Nepalis to effect environmental, economic and social development.'


An Award of £500 and the title ‘SES Explorer 2014’, kindly sponsored by the Trustees of the Scientific Exploration Society, was awarded by Andrew Mitchell to Ryan Burke for his research on Gelada Monkeys in the Ethiopian Highlands.

Gelada Monkeys - Keystone Species?

Ryan Burke
Canadian born Ryan is a 1st year DPhil Candidate at Oxford, with his research focussing on the relationships between anthropogenic impacts, plant and animal communities and landscape processes to give a deeper understanding of the ecology of understudied or changing regions. Toward this goal, in his second study of the Gelada monkey in the Ethiopian highlands, Ryan and colleagues will carry out a detailed study to establish their potential role as a keystone species in the Afroalpine ecosystem, the results of which will be crucial for the species and for the development of conservation and restoration strategies in this region. Much of these highlands have not been rigorously surveyed in decades, a situation which ratchets up the importance of this expedition in a region of high susceptibility to changing climate patterns and increasing human population. Ryan and his team will explore the iconic cliffs, plateaus and gorges of Ethiopia by car, foot, and the occasional donkey.


Ranulph Fiennes
Ranulph Fiennes - The organisers of London 2012 sought to 'inspire a generation', and this vision is echoed by the SES in the launch of their Explorer Awards. With support and backing from the SES, the rising stars of the exploration world can discover so much that is yet unknown, and inspire others to join their quest for knowledge.

Monty Halls
Monty Halls - It is a commonly held misconception that the days of the great exploratory expeditions are over. Programmes such as the SES Explorer Awards are vital to fuel the efforts of young explorers, to facilitate the projects of the next generation of expedition leaders, and to continue the long and proud British tradition of stepping off the map.

Neil Laughton
Neil Laughton - JBS and the SES were instrumental in supporting my desire to travel and explore the world. As a direct result my life has been tremendously exciting, culminating in my achieving the Explorers Grand Slam. This is a wonderful opportunity for young and aspiring adventurers of the next generation.

Rosie Stancer
Rosie Stancer - The SES is to be applauded in its initiative for throwing open the gates to plucky young explorers, to go out into the unknown, meet fresh challenges whilst inspiring others through their own achievements. Such opportunities will yield a rich legacy of learning and continue to uphold our proud heritage of exploration.

John Blashford-Snell - Exploration today is all about advancement; we aim to give people the opportunity to explore their particular areas of interest first hand, to discover what is happening and to gain the knowledge and understanding to do something to help.
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