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Nature + Progress

Blueprint: Nature + Progress focuses on reconciling the natural world with the inevitability of human progress. Humans have exploited ecosystems to support growing societal demands. While beneficial in the short term, these disruptions have led to a widespread degradation of ecosystem services, the often overlooked things nature does for us.

Consider, for example…

    • the deterioration of urban air quality by deforestation and fossil fuel use
    • the cost of artificial pollination due to the honeybee crisis
    • the damage from tropical storms no longer tempered by barrier reefs

This year’s event aims to inspire actionable blueprints for sustainable and regenerative technologies that address and reverse degradation by humans in order to prevent the exponentially growing costs of replacing these ecosystem services.


*Track details and event workshops to be announced soon



Eric Berkenpas

Senior Director of Exploration Technology, National Geographic Society

Eric Berkenpas leads a highly focused technology group at National Geographic called Remote Imaging. Remote Imaging is tasked with developing and deploying specialized equipment to help NG media groups, collaborating researchers, and explorers meet their technology needs in the field. Projects include a camera and instrument package for obtaining environmental data and imagery from the perspective of marine animals called Crittercam, a one year time-lapse of the demolition of old Yankee Stadium, a small portable stable aerial camera platform for capturing aerial shots in difficult to reach regions, a camera system which has captured imagery from the deepest locations in the ocean, and the most powerful omnidirectional deep ocean light for its size ever made. His work has taken him around the world in support of National Geographic initiatives.

Kasper Kubica

Co-Founder, Carpe Lotion

Kasper Kubica is co-founder of Carpe Lotion, a startup that has grown rapidly as it expands into the retail realm. Kasper has been involved several startups in the past. He has pitched his Carpe Lotion startup on TV shows and has been published on Business Insider. Kasper studied computer science and physics at Duke, where he was a Robertson Scholar and a member of the Cube entrepreneurship SLG. He enjoys building and delivering products and experiences that people love. In his free time, he enjoys scuba diving, taking flying lessons, and learning to play the piano.

Meaghan Parker

Science Officer, Forest Legality Initiative, World Resources Institute

As WRI’s technology associate for the Forest Legality Team, Meaghan leads the strategic plan on how best to incorporate innovative technologies to combat illegal logging. She partners with academic, government and private sector labs along with timber industry experts to identify where and when different technologies are applied most appropriately, enabling the private and public sector to raise the bar on ‘due diligence’.

Meaghan comes to WRI from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History where she was heavily involved in a multitude of different DNA barcoding projects such as the Moorea Biocode Project and most recently, the Barcode of Wildlife Project.

Meaghan’s education and career have focused on applying genetic methods to address questions in conservation and biodiversity. Meaghan received a Bachelors degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Masters degree from San Francisco State University.

Will Travers

President, Born Free

Will Travers is an internationally-renowned wildlife expert who has dedicated his life to wildlife issues, since he lived in Kenya with his parents, Virginia McKenna and the late Bill Travers, who starred in the film Born Free (1966). In 1984, he and his parents co-founded the wildlife charitable organisation now known as The Born Free Foundation, which works to stop individual wild animal suffering, protect threatened species worldwide, and keep wildlife in the wild.

Will has been involved in rescuing elephants, tigers, lions, and dolphins, and is always willing to share his experience and knowledge to further Born Free's vision for a more compassionate future.

Will is also a Board Member of Born Free USA, which he co-founded, and is President of the Species Survival Network (SSN), an international coalition of more than 100 organizations committed to the promotion, enhancement, and strict enforcement of CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). He also advises the United Kingdom Government on matters relating to zoos, the use of wild animals in circuses, and international wildlife trade.

Will has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows, speaking out against canned hunting of lions highlighted in the documentary, Blood Lions, the international ivory trade and the trade in chimps as exotic pets.



Check back soon for more details!

Hotel Info

Flight Info

Participant Travel

Blueprint has reserved a block of rooms at preferential rates with our exlusive hotel partner, the 21c Museum Hotel in downtown Durham, NC.

The conference can provide hotel accommodations for some mentors and offer rooms at negotiated rates to others. Please contact to learn more.

Delta Air Lines is the exclusive air travel provider of the 2018 Blueprint Nature + Progress conference.

Please contact to reserve air travel to the event.

Blueprint will arrange buses to a number of Universities to make it easier for students to attend. An exact list of bus routes and stops will be shared very soon. Please contact with questions.

For students coming from Universities that will not be serviced by a bus, Blueprint can offer up to $50 per participant in reimbursements for travel expenses. These reimbursements will be offered until our funds are exhausted.