The Constantine S. Niarchos Expeditions at the American Museum of Natural History

Whether it’s expeditions into polar waters, among the foothills of the Himalayas, or beneath the ground of Svalbard, the intellectual journey of scientific discovery sometimes requires a physical journey as well. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation is proud to support the Constantine S. Niarchos Scientific Expeditions and the American Museum of Natural History in making these journeys of exploration.

Since 1869, the American Museum of Natural History, one of the largest museums in the world, has discovered, interpreted, and disseminated scientific research and knowledge about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe. The Museum advances the research of its scholars through scientific expeditions around the globe, and scientists, curators, fellows, and students participate in over 100 field expeditions each year to study fish, birds, insects, mammals, and humans.

Climate Change in the Marshall Islands (2017)

The Constantine S. Niarchos Expedition grant contributes to this important work by funding multiple international research expeditions each year across all of the American Museum of Natural History’s scientific disciplines. The Expeditions honor the adventurous spirit of their namesake, Constantine S. Niarchos, who was the first Greek person to climb Mount Everest.

Surveying Tropical Birds in Vanuatu (2015)

In adding to the depth and breadth of its collection, the Museum’s expeditions are also adding to the breadth and depth of human knowledge. A 2001-2002 expedition focusing on terrestrial leeches in Madagascar, for instance, led to the discovery of a new species of Malagabdella leeches by Dr. Mark Siddall’s team. That knowledge encompasses not only research results, but also the methodologies that achieve them. On a 2015 expedition in the forests of Cambodia, researchers on Dr. Siddall’s team explored a new method of tracking endangered animals through leeches. By collecting samples of leeches from different areas and sequencing the DNA found in their gut content, scientists can learn about what other species are found locally. This is an important tool to help scientists monitor diversity and species’ movement within an area.

Documenting an Ancient Kingdom In Sudan (2014)

The biofluorescent fish of the Arctic Ocean, nocturnal arachnids of Pakistan, or Trilobite fossils of Spitsbergen that are the objects of study for expedition researchers are just part of the story, though. Just as important are the human connections formed and investigated through these expeditions. In collaboration with longtime partners in Vietnam, Dr. Mary Blair explored the complexities of international trade in wildlife by looking at local patterns of human interaction with animals’ habitat. In the Marshall Islands, Dr. Jennifer Newell sought to learn about how communities there are responding to the existential threats posed by the effects of climate change.

Mapping Wasps and Their Plant Hosts in Australia (2014)

The questions closest to home—the ones that inform our understanding of the world and how we relate to one another—are sometimes only answered by travelling to far corners of the world. The Constantine S. Niarchos Expeditions support this expansive quest for fundamental knowledge.