You might think, with every inch of the earth’s surface meticulously charted and the whole store of human knowledge available on the internet, that there is no place in the 21st century for explorers. Scientist and TV host Ella Al-Shamahi, who was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2015, thinks otherwise—she feels we simply need to update our understanding of what it means to be an explorer today. Al-Shamahi specializes in archaeological digs across the world’s most politically unstable and hostile territories, where scientific institutions often fear to tread. These regions include pivotal sites of early human history. By ignoring them, Al-Shamahi believes we’re missing a huge part of our own story. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty-Five Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 48 Kathryn Sullivan The astronaut turned deep-sea explorer on the highest highs and lowest lows. Arts & Culture Garden Issue 45 Piet Oudolf The Dutch designer bringing life—and death—to traditional gardens. Arts & Culture Issue 45 Thomas MacDonell The conservationist transforming the Highlands. Arts & Culture Issue 45 Cara Marie Piazza The New Yorker wringing color from the city's waste and weeds. Arts & Culture Issue 45 Ayana Omilade Flewellen A scholar at one with the elements. Arts & Culture Issue 45 Gabe Verduzco A microscopic tour of California’s beetles and botanicals.