2016 Women of Discovery from Left to Right: Beate Liepert, Sheila Ochugboju, Kristen Marhaver, Juliana Machado Ferreira, Marla Spivak, Hope Jahren

2016 Women of Discovery from Left to Right: Beate Liepert, Sheila Ochugboju, Kristen Marhaver, Juliana Machado Ferreira, Marla Spivak, Hope Jahren

The WINGS WorldQuest Women of Discovery Awards were established in 2003 to recognize extraordinary women making significant contributions to world knowledge and science through exploration. 

On October 25, 2016, six intrepid explorers were honored and inducted as WINGS WorldQuest Fellows at the Women of Discovery Awards Gala at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers.  Seventy-nine pioneering women have received this honor and over $550,000 in grants since 2003. 



Ophira Eisenberg is a comedian, writer, and host of NPR’s hit trivia comedy show, Ask Me Another, where she has interviewed and played silly games with the likes of Peter Sarsgaard, Uzo Aduba, George Takei, Sir Patrick Stewart, Ethan Hawke, David Cross, Dr Ruth, Lewis Black, Hannibal Buress and more. She has appeared on Girls, The Nightly Show, Fox’s Red Eye, MSNBC, The Late Late Show, The Today Show, Comedy Central, and VH-1. Selected as one of New York Magazine’s Top 10 Comics that Funny People Find Funny, and featured in the New York Times as a skilled comedian and storyteller with a “bleakly stylish” sense of humor, Ophira’s debut memoir, Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy was optioned for a feature film with Zucker Productions. She has appeared as a panelist on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and is also a regular host and teller with The Moth and has appeared on their award-winning podcast, radio show, and Audience Favorites compilation. She also released her second comedy album BANGS! on Comedy Dynamics.


juliana machado ferreira, COURAGE AWARD

Dr. Juliana Machado Ferreira founded and serves as Executive Director of FREELAND Brasil, whose mission is to conserve biodiversity by ending wildlife trafficking.  She designs and implements projects with three major focuses: (1) reducing demand for wild pets and wildlife parts and products through educational efforts and awareness actions; (2) supporting law enforcement against wildlife trafficking, international articulation and facilitation for the development of a regional wildlife enforcement network; and (3) developing scientific research to produce tools for law enforcement use. Ferreira’s ultimate goal is to establish an independent wildlife forensics laboratory in Brazil that will develop dedicated research and perform high quality forensic analyses on wildlife crime evidence for all South American countries. Ferreira is a TED Senior Fellow and received her Ph.D. in Conservation Genetics from Sao Paulo University. 


A. Hope JahrenLeadership AWARD

Hope Jahren is the “New York Times Best Seller” author of Lab Girl, a memoir about a woman in science and a lifelong love and study of plants. Dr. Jahren is a geochemist and geobiologist at the University of Oslo where she studies living and fossil organisms and how they are chemically linked to the global environment. In her blog, #hopejahrensurecanwrite, she shares anecdotes and thoughts about the interactions between women and men in academia. She is a creative advocate in lifting negative stereotypes of women and girls in science, and started a social media campaign that encouraged girls to tweet photos of their hands conducting science experiments. Dr. Jahren received her Ph.D. in soil science from the University of California, Berkeley. She has won many prestigious awards in the field, including the James B. Macelwane Medal of the American Geophysical Union. In 2016, Time Magazine named her one of the world’s “100 Most Influential People.”


beate G. liepert, EARTH AWARD

Dr. Beate G. Liepert discovered during her graduate work at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich that declines in solar energy reaching Earth’s surface were equivalent to the predicted global warming signal. Despite great skepticism of her theorem, she received her Ph.D. with this thesis, and her discovery was eventually recognized as a worldwide phenomenon coined “global dimming” and cited in the first report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  From early on Liepert suspected that global dimming could be used as a “Rosetta stone” in explaining previously unsolved climate puzzles.  Liepert went on to explore global dimming further using hot air balloons. Her story was featured in the BBC documentary “Dimming the Sun,” and her hot air balloon flights became a New Yorker “The Talk of the Town” story.  Now that global dimming is widely accepted, Liepert focuses her research and development on solar energy optimization.


kristen marhaverSEA AWARD

Dr. Kristen Marhaver, a marine biologist, recently completed her NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship studying the ecology, reproduction, and juvenile behavior of Caribbean reef corals at the CARMABI Research Station in Curaçao. To help restore the damaged signals and factors that corals need to survive, she developed new settlement surfaces, bacterial probiotic tools, and rearing strategies for juvenile corals, including for threatened species. Marhaver’s research has been covered by hundreds of national and international media outlets including NPR, BBC, The Atlantic, and Popular Science. Her honors include five fellowships and grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation, numerous awards for science communication, and recognition as a TED Senior Fellow and a World Economic Forum Young Scientist. Marhaver earned her Ph.D. from the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. 


sheila ochugboju, HUMANITY AWARD

Dr. Sheila Ochugboju is committed to developing impactful African science, technology and innovation projects.  She is currently the Lead Consultant for the Global State of Urban Youth Report for The United Nations Human Settlements Program. Ochugboju was recently appointed as one of the Global Roving Ambassadors for the County Government of Kisumu, Kenya, holding the portfolio of Transformative Science & Urban Resilience. As Chief Communications Officer for the African Center for Economic Development, she led the Rockefeller Foundation’s Informal City Dialogues for Accra in 2013, building the capacity of slum dwellers associations, street hawkers and several citizen activist groups to work with the Mayor’s Office and win a $1 million grant as one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities. Ochugboju is a TED Fellow and co-curator of the flagship event TEDxNairobi. Ochugboju is a biochemist, and was awarded the Daphne Jackson Trust Post-Doctoral Fellowship based at St. Hilda’s College, University of Oxford, to work on molecular genetics, microbiology and virology.


marLa spivakConservation award

Dr. Marla Spivak is a leading entomologist in the movement to protect and enhance the health and diversity of the world’s declining honey bee population.  Essential to healthy ecosystems and to the agricultural industry as pollinators of a third of the United States’ food supply, honey bees have been disappearing at alarming rates in recent years due to the accumulated effects of parasitic mites, viral and bacterial diseases, and exposure to pesticides.  Her current research projects include breeding honey bees for their natural defenses against diseases and parasites, exploring the benefits of plant resins to honey bee social immunity, and propagating floral-rich and pesticide-free landscapes to support all pollinators. Spivak is a MacArthur Fellow and McKnight Distinguished Professor in Entomology at the University of Minnesota.  She received a B.A. from Humboldt State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.