Natalie T. Schmitt
Natalie sailing past a large iceburg Author: Kylie Owen
2022

Natalie T. Schmitt

Ecologist/Geneticist

Species Detection on

meet natalie

Natalie Schmitt is an empathetic ecologist, a conservation geneticist, and a documentarian. She is deeply passionate about protecting biodiversity using hard science, public education and community empowerment. Studying elusive, endangered species, including snow leopards and antarctic whales, she has empowered grassroots conservation. Natalie is developing WildTechdna, a leading-edge technology to detect DNA from minute biological samples in real time, error-free, and at low cost with ease of use. It will revolutionize the way that customs, law enforcement, field monitoring, citizen science, and locally based conservation, are conducted around the world.

Species Detection on
Nominated by: Rodrigo Medelin FI'21
Class of 2022 Location USA
Natalie at sea
Natalie at sea Author: Mike Double

As a documentary presenter, I am humbled and always surprised to have such an impact. I am continually heartened by the messages that I’ve received from people inspired by my work with Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Nat Geo Wild, to pursue their own careers in biodiversity conservation. I have encouraged snow leopard community-based conservation through local leadership in Nepal and have helped to inform Antarctic conservation practices and whale management, including the Australian government, the International Whaling Commission, and others.

These have catapulted me to a bigger dream: to democratize conservation through the development of a more inclusive technology for species detection. I now have an incredibly skilled team of geneticists, conservationists, communicators, business partners and institutions working together. Our innovative species detection technology will empower citizens to monitor, study and protect endangered species in a way that is completely unique. My hope is to involve more people globally in conservation initiatives.

“Kids are always interested in technology. It sparks their imaginations and makes them feel that they are just as important as scientists, in doing wonderful things for conservation, locally and globally!”

- Natalie T. Schmitt
Natalie standing on a distant mountain peak
Natalie standing on a distant mountain peak Author: Dibesh Karmacharya

Our species detection technology is simple, and inexpensive enough for lay people, including children, to use, and this contributes to conservation in a meaningful way. In Nepal, I’ve seen just how powerful youth education can be to build passion and intrigue in the animals that inhabit the local ecosystem. This, in turn, inspires the adults. Kids are always interested in technology. It sparks their imaginations and makes them feel that they are just as important as scientists, in doing wonderful things for conservation, locally and globally! The ultimate goal is to generate a greater sense of ownership and the motivation to protect biodiversity.

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