Austin Hagwood is a National Geographic Young Explorer, anthropologist, and incoming pre-medical student at Johns Hopkins University. With support from a National Geographic Early Career Grant and a Fulbright Scholarship, he's currently exploring the rainforests of northwest Papua New Guinea and collecting 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.
Born in California's Sierra Nevada mountains, he works at the intersection of cultures and environment, with long-term research interests in ethnobotany and medicine 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). As a student in the Johns Hopkins Post-Baccalaureate Premedical program, he plans to unify his interests in culture and medicine as a medical anthropologist and practicing surgeon.
Austin's dispatches from Papua New Guinea currently appear 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 divides his time between Montana and Papua New Guinea.