Shackleton Medal // The Longlist

Shackleton is incredibly proud to confirm the longlist of extraordinary nominees for the first Shackleton Medal for the Protection of the Polar Regions. There can only be one winner, but every one of our thirty-six entrants has displayed passion, determination and ingenuity in their dedication to the Arctic and Antarctic. The range is huge – from the pioneer in observing whales from space to the mother of triplets who became the first woman to ski to the North and South Poles, from the endurance swimmer who’s negotiated with the Kremlin to the man who tracks climate change through plankton. Some are at the early stages of their careers and others are household names. We want to celebrate each and every one of them; the future of the world is in their hands.

Today our Board of Judges, chaired by Sunday Times bestselling author, Professor Lewis Dartnell, will decide on a shortlist of nine in a meeting at the Royal Geographical Society. The shortlist will celebrate those who, like the Boss, put the greater good before themselves, who persist in adversity and who inspire others to do likewise. You will have the chance to find out more about the work our finalists are doing on this website over the course of the next month. The winner will be selected on April 5. As well as receiving our specially commissioned medal, they will be given prize money of £10,000 to contribute to their ongoing work at the Poles.

Since launching the medal on January 5th:

  • We've had 43 nominations, resulting in 36 nominees.
  • They come from 17 countries including Alaska and the Russian Far East.
  • Two thirds of them are women.
  • Five of them are indigenous to the Arctic

The names are as follows:

1. Hannah Cubaynes, Canadian

‘Whales from Space’ programme.

2. Hyoung Sul La, Korean

Pioneering use of acoustics to study marine ecosystems.

3. Elin Darelius, Norwegian

Oceanographer who uses Lego Ninja figure to communicate her research.

4. Charlotte Havermans, Belgian

Leading scientist investigating jellyfish and their impact under climate change. Co-founder of Women In Polar Science network

5. Robert Swan, British

Lifelong campaigner for the Antarctic. Has led 22 trips to Antarctica with 5,000 participants from 84 countries.

6. Lewis Pugh, British/South African 

Endurance swimmer, maritime lawyer, UN Patron of Oceans. Persuaded Russia to agree to the establishment of the Ross Sea MPA.

7. Preet Chandi, British/South Asian 

British officer who reached the South Pole unassisted after 700 miles and 40 days. Encourages women of colour in polar exploration and science.

8. Heidi Sevestre, French

Glaciologist who does pioneering education and policy work.

9. Alastair HumphreysBritish  

Adventurer, whose journeys include working as a photographer and filmmaker in the Arctic.

10. Asmara Lehrmann, American/Indonesian

Expert in sea level rise Also campaigns for minorities in polar science as a co-organiser of Polar Impact.

11. Ann Daniels, British  

Single mother of triplets who overcame the odds to be an explorer.

12. Morven Muilwijk, Norwegian

Oceanographer who presentsTV show dedicated to making families reduce their carbon footprint. Went on MOSAiC expedition; is now writing a Lego cartoon-style graphic novel to present his findings.

13. Birgit Njåstad, Norwegian

Leads the Antarctic Programme at the Norwegian Polar Institute. Impressive track record in scientific research and diplomacy to protect the poles.

14. Anna Jones, British

Researcher into the polar atmosphere. Runs a laboratory at the Halley station for British Antarctic Survey.

15. Martin R Hartley, British

Pioneering photographer who has spent more than 400 days in the Arctic and Antarctic on more than 20 polar expeditions and assignments

16. Peter Wadhams, British

Emeritus professor of Ocean Physics at Cambridge. Has researched the Arctic for 50 years and has done much to raise awareness of vanishing sea ice.

17. Tatiana Degai, Itelmen Russian Far East

Lifelong campaigner to protect the Itelmen of the Arctic and defend their right to maintain their livelihoods and culture.

18. Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Canadian Inuit

Senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance who has campaigned extensively on environmental and social issues affecting the Inuit.

19. Jannie Staffansson, Swedish Sami 

Renowned Indigenous climate change expert. Works with reindeer; has done important research on black carbon and methane and persistent organic pollutants

20. Shari Fox, Canadian

Research Scientist at University of Colorado, coordinating scientific research of key ice-free area of the ocean between Canada and Greenland

21. Victoria Buschman, Alaskan (Inuit) 

Inuit conservation biologist who specialises in conservation of lands, waters and species across Arctic Indigenous homelands

22. Camilla Brattland, Norwegian Sami

Important work mapping coastal Sami communities in a way that empowers the indigenous population

23. Donald Lamont, British

Chairman of the Falkland Islands Maritime Heritage Trust that oversees the search for the wreck of the Endurance

24. Bathsheba Demuth, Canadian

Pioneering environmental historian; made waves with her book Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait.

25. Geoff Green, Canadian

Inspirational expedition leader and campaigner.

26. Ariel Waldman, American

Extraordinary communicator who has been commended by NASA and Obama among others for her work on microbiology in the Antarctic.

27. Jane Francis, British

Director of the British Antarctic Survey.

28. Nirmal Purja, Nepalese

Astonishing mountaineer who now leads expeditions in the Antarctic.



29. Arctic Angels, International

Co-ordinated by Emma Grace Wilkinson. A collective of 28 young women from around the globe who are committed to raising awareness of climate change at the poles.

30. Polar Impact, British

Led by Premdeep Singh, this organisation promotes diversity in science at the poles. Singh himself is also spearheading a project to integrate the sounds and imagery of Antarctica’s seals to produce Grime music and a VR experience.

31. Team WeTwo, British

Remarkable organisation set up by Phoebe Smith and Dwayne Fields, who have both come from under-privileged backgrounds and have led an impressive campaign to take an expedition to Antarctica.

32. Sunniva Sorby and Hilde Fålun Strøm, Norwegian  

First women in history to overwinter in the Arctic without men. Worked as citizen scientists to raise awareness of environmental issues.



33. David Attenborough, British

One of the greatest ever communicators about the natural world; an increasingly vocal campaigner on climate change.

34. Leonardo di Caprio, American

UN Climate Ambassador. Produced and narrated the documentary Ice On Fire to raise awareness of what’s happening at the poles.

35. Chris Packham, British

Passionate advocate for the natural world; has used his profile as a TV presenter to raise awareness of what’s happening at the poles.

36. Greta Thunberg, Swedish

Her crystal-clear vision and refusal to let any obstacles get in her way has transformed the narrative around climate-change.