By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Sep 24, 2020 at 1:01 PM Photography: Chris Millbern/National Geographic

On Tuesday, National Geographic named the nine winners of the its annual awards and one of them was a Milwaukeean. (One was also Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but that’s another story.)

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Corey Jaskolski is a member of the Milwaukee Public Museum Board of Directors. He has won the 2020 Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year Award.

Each year, the award goes to someone whose actions, achievements, and spirit personify leadership in exploration and storytelling, according to MPM’s Jenni Tetzlaff, who adds that, “a key project that led to Corey receiving this award was his artificial intelligence (AI) system that helps detect and prevent elephant and rhino poaching.”

According to the awards website:

“Engineer Corey Jaskolski is receiving the Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year award for his groundbreaking work creating imaging techniques that have helped redefine exploration and conservation. A National Geographic Fellow, engineer, inventor and MIT graduate, Jaskolski designs, builds and deploys technologies for exploration and conservation missions in some of the world’s most unique and unforgiving environments.

“From venturing deep inside flooded caves to digitize Maya human sacrifice victims and Ice Age bear skeletons, to visiting the Democratic Republic of the Congo during an Ebola outbreak to perform important anti-poaching aerial 3D scanning and AI data collection, Jaskolski shows his steadfast commitment to exploring and protecting the planet. In addition to working with the National Geographic Society’s Labs team, Jaskolski is co-founder and chief technology officer of Virtual Wonders, which shares and protects the world’s special places, and Synthetaic, which uses innovative machine learning methods to tackle some of the world’s toughest AI problems.”

“Corey was born and raised here, and he credits MPM with instilling his wanderlust and curiosity about nature and culture,” says Tetzlaff.

“We are so excited for Corey and honored that MPM had a hand in inspiring his important life work.”


Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.