Austin Hagwood is a National Geographic Young Explorer, anthropologist, and seasonal fire lookout. With support from a National Geographic Early Career Grant and a Fulbright Scholarship, he recently explored the rainforests of northwest Papua New Guinea and collected culturally significant plants. In recent years his work as a writer and researcher has taken him to Papua New Guinea, Finland, Egypt, Israel, New Zealand, England, Montana, and southwest Florida.
He works at the intersection of cultures and environment, with long-term research interests in ethnobotany in Papua New Guinea. He holds a BA in English from the University of Notre Dame and an MPhil in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge.
Austin's professional experience ranges from conservation work for the Naples Botanical Garden to scribing for physicians in a pediatric ER. More recently, he spent four months living alone on an 8,000' mountain as a fire lookout for the US Forest Service. Together with botanist Tiberius Jimbo, he has made several hundred botanical collections with specimens stored at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (UK) and the National Herbarium of Lae (PNG).
Austin's dispatches from Papua New Guinea have appeared on National Geographic's Open Explorer platform and the NatGeo Voices blog; his other writings have appeared in Notre Dame Magazine and publications at the University of Oxford. Both Orvis and VisitCalifornia have shared his photos on their social media platforms.
When not in the field, he can be found fly-fishing, backpacking, climbing abandoned lookouts, and making botanical collections.
He lives in Montana.