Meet The Team

Joe Grabowski | Founder and Director

Joe is a science communicator, educator and scuba diver working to inspire the next generation of scientists and explorers. In 2017, he was selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and shortly after became National Geographic’s first Education Fellow. He founded National Geographic’s Explorer Classroom program and recently launched the Global Biodiversity Festival, a virtual event bringing biodiversity live to the general public in over 100 countries. Joe’s a top 50 finalist for the Global Teacher Prize and is a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Explorers Club. An avid scuba diver, he’s been around the world diving with great hammerhead sharks, German u-boats and everything in between.

Jesse Hildebrand | VP of Education

Jesse is a Science Communicator from Toronto working to connect scientists and explorers with the public through digital and live events across Canada. He is the VP of Education at Exploring By The Seat of Your Pants where he’s brought in over a hundred new speakers and hosted 600+ broadcasts since 2015. He is the founder of Science Literacy Week – a national science festival held across Canada every September and run through NSERC in the federal government. He also produced The Story Collider podcast in Toronto for three years, helping showcase the human side of science. Finally, he is a Royal Canadian Geographical Society Fellow and a member of the Explorers Club who took part in an Expedition to Madagascar in 2019.

Meet the Board

Travis Steffens

Travis has a BSc in Primatology, an MA in Anthropology from the University of Calgary, and a PhD in Evolutionary Anthropology from the University of Toronto. Travis specializes in primate conservation biogeography and applied conservation. Travis has been involved in primate research since 2002 and has conducted many research projects on endangered primates in both Belize, Central America, and Madagascar. In 2015, Travis founded Planet Madagascar to work towards building sustainable forest communities in Madagascar. He combines his research with practical conservation measures to protect lemurs and their habitat and improve the livelihoods of people who live in connection to lemurs.

Jill Heinerth

Jill is one of the world’s premier underwater explorers, and the first person to dive inside iceberg caves. According to filmmaker James Cameron, “More people have walked on the moon than have been to some of the places Jill Heinerth has gone right here on earth.” An acclaimed polar explorer, cave diver, author, speaker, filmmaker, and climate advocate, Jill is the first Explorer-in-Residence of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. She is the inaugural recipient of the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration and Canada’s Polar Medal. Jill leads expeditions into extreme environments to advance scientific and geographic knowledge. Her projects have been broadcast on the CBC, BBC, PBS, Discovery Channel, and television networks worldwide. Her bestselling book INTO THE PLANET – My Life as a Cave Diver has drawn acclaim from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and O Magazine. 

George Kourounis

George is a renowned global adventurer, storm chaser, explorer and television presenter. Based in Toronto, his efforts to document nature’s worst weather conditions have taken him all over the globe, into places most normal people are fleeing from. Whether it’s a tornado outbreak in Kansas, a monster hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, forest fires in British Columbia, or even an erupting volcano, he’s usually in the middle of the action with his camera rolling. His efforts have been seen around the world on the Discovery Channel, National Geographic Explorer, BBC-TV, CNN and of course, his own adventure TV program Angry Planet which has been broadcast in over 100 countries. George is an Explorer in Residence of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and is the Chairman of The Explorers Club Canadian Chapter. Awards include The Leif Erikson Exploration Award from the Exploration Museum in Iceland, Canadian Geographic’s list of Canada’s 45 Greatest Living Explorers and the 90 Anniversary Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

Our Advisory Board

Paul Rose

Paul is at the front line of exploration and one of the world’s most experienced divers, field science and polar experts. He helps scientists unlock and communicate global mysteries in the most remote and challenging regions of the planet. Paul is currently expedition leader for the National Geographic Pristine Seas Expeditions. Paul is an experienced television presenter and radio broadcaster. He was the Base Commander of Rothera Research Station in Antarctica, for the British Antarctic Survey for 10 years and was awarded HM The Queen’s Polar Medal. Paul is a mountain and polar guide leading Greenland Icecap crossing and mountaineering expeditions and polar science support logistics.