After childhood summers in the Bahamas, a graduate school trip to Belize, and a 16-month PhD stint on Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles, Meg Burke expected her 2006 Academy expedition to the Philippines’ Verde Island Passage to feel like familiar territory. “My first dive was absolutely mind-boggling,” says Burke, who still marvels at the region’s matchless biodiversity during each annual expedition. “It was a watershed moment in my life—all I could think about was the importance of preserving these rich reefs for generations to come.”
With unique expertise that spans both science and education, Burke pushes Academy expedition participants to reimagine the ways in which Western natural history institutions explore and help sustain the less-developed world. Year after year, the Academy works with an expanding list of Filipino partners to exchange information, collaborate on projects, build capacity, and target forward-thinking conservation plans in the face of significant environmental threats.