Martina Panisi
Break during night surveys in the desert Author: Diogo Ferreira

Martina Panisi

Conservation Biologist

Invertebrate Illuminator

meet martina

Martina Panisi, an Italian conservation biologist with a Ph.D. and a fervent environmental educator, devotes her life to scientific exploration and species conservation. Her work spans remote tropical forests and deserts in Africa, Europe, and the Arabian Peninsula. Driven by a passion for less conventionally charismatic animals and their ecological significance, Martina’s scientific pursuits aim to illuminate the often-overlooked species, including spiders and giant snails, while advocating for the crucial role individuals of all ages play in safeguarding their habitats. As a recognized National Geographic explorer and a member of IUCN Specialist groups, Martina has earned support through grants and accolades, including the Terre de Femmes award (Italian edition). She has shared her insights with diverse audiences on prominent platforms like Expo Dubai 2020, the National Geographic Summit, and TEDx

Invertebrate Illuminator
Nominated by: Joe Grabowski, FI'18
Class of 2024 Location Portugal
Follow martina's work:
Team travelling to a different sampling point
Team travelling to a different sampling point Author: Jaime Sousa

Diversity is the heartbeat that sustains our planet. I consider myself an Explorer because, through both my personal and professional journeys, I am dedicated to learning a new word of the planet’s language every day. My role is that of a translator, striving to bring together diverse people, wildlife, and places under the common roof of Earth. Living and working between forests, deserts, and human communities, I have discovered that each place, person, or species carries its unique story. However, many of these valuable stories and knowledge are vanishing, with potential devastating consequences for our planet.

Upon realizing the impact of biodiversity and environmental knowledge loss, I made a commitment to dedicate my life to preserving these stories, species, and places. Recognizing that protection begins with awareness, I left my birth country a decade ago to become a conservationist, with a focus on shedding light on often-overlooked invertebrate species.

“My aim is, therefore, to facilitate the connection between threatened species and people. This generally starts with ‘What does this species mean to you?'”

- Martina Panisi
Focus group discussion during the Nature Ambassadors project (2023) developed in the Morogoro and Pwani regions, Tanzania
Focus group discussion during the Nature Ambassadors project (2023) developed in the Morogoro and Pwani regions, Tanzania Author: Eliya Lawrence Uzia

Throughout my explorations, I’ve come to understand that each new environment harbors unique living beings and intricate relationships with the people inhabiting its surroundings. My mission is to facilitate connections between threatened species and people, often starting with the question, “What does this species mean to you?” In central Africa, I concentrated on conserving the native forests of São Tomé and Príncipe by narrating the tale of threatened giant snails. In the Arabian Peninsula, I collaborate with an international team of biologists to compile the first inventory of fauna in an underappreciated desert region. In Tanzania, I join forces with a team of National Geographic explorers to empower teachers to advocate for local biodiversity protection.

Biodiversity loss is a global challenge, and my future goal is to build bridges across people and places, sharing stories worldwide and fostering collaboration for a united front against this shared threat.

never stop exploring