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U Bird Researcher Named National Geographic Risk Taker

University of Utah ornithologist Çağan Şekercioğlu releases a Eurasian roller after banding it at Turkey's Aras River wetlands.

Çağan Şekercioğlu, an assistant professor of biology, has been named a National Geographic Risk Taker, a new honor or from the group that made him a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2011.

In its May 2013 issue, National Geographic magazine included Şekercioğlu – an ornithologist, conservation ecologist and director of the Turkish environmental organization KuzeyDoga – in the first article in its year-long series, “Risk Takers,” which profiles “explorers who press the limits.”

In its profile and interview with Şekercioğlu, the magazine cites him for his work “to document and prevent bird extinctions,” his criticism of government environmental policies in his native Turkey and the physical risks of his work.

“While surveying birds, I have been charged by a grizzly bear in Alaska and an elephant in Tanzania,” says Şekercioğlu (pronounced Shay-care-gee-oh-loo). “I’ve tangled with a poisonous puff adder in Uganda. I’ve been caught between the military and terrorists, mistaken for a spy, held at gunpoint, carjacked in Ethiopia and attacked by a machete-wielding mob in Costa Rica. Honestly, I’m often more afraid of people and traffic than I am of wildlife.”