Leo is researching the interplay between human and ecological communities within tropical forests. He will study the impact of the Mayan Train and Mexico’s leading agroforestry policy, “Sembrando Vida” (Sowing Life), on tropical forest dynamics and local governance processes in the Yucatán Peninsula.

Chosen through a merit-based and highly competitive process, the 2023 Fulbright-National Geographic Award recipients — who were selected for Fulbright awards of an academic year in length and have been simultaneously named National Geographic Explorers — will undertake in-depth exploration of pressing global issues, including humanity’s influence on Mexico’s tropical forests, analyzing Singapore’s government-backed systems that address food access and security, investigating Japan’s clean energy, advocating for South Korea’s climate mitigation strategies, and studying Arctic seabird foraging at a lab in Poland.

These award recipients will utilize a variety of research methods and storytelling tools to carry out their projects while receiving support and mentorship from National Geographic’s global community of Explorers. These individuals will document their work through stories to be shared and amplified through National Geographic’s platforms, and act as a powerful resource in building lasting ties across cultures.

This program is an evolution of the partnership between the National Geographic Society and the U.S. Department of State that launched in 2013. Originally focused on digital storytelling, the program now supports projects across research, conservation, technology, education and storytelling.