Founder, SoarOcean Conservation Drones
2016 MCAF Fellow
Shah is an engineer, conservation technologist, and National Geographic Explorer and Fellow that works with communities, NGOs, and developing countries to identify and deploy technologies that can help with their greatest conservation challenges. This includes low-cost observation platforms (conservation drones, acoustic sensors, open source sensors, satellite imagery, etc) and better methods to share and manage the data gathered (using mobile technologies, crowdsourcing, the internet). His projects have integrated crowdsourcing, smartphone apps, drones, satellite data, and sensors to address such conservation issues as illegal poaching and the monitoring of protected areas.
He founded the world’s first conservation technology makerspace and prototyping lab, Conservify, which uses open source technology to empower local communities to change our planet’s future. Through that, he has built and deployed low-cost conservation drones for coastal monitoring, open source glacial monitoring sensor networks in the Banff National Park, acoustic monitoring buoys in the Pacific, and more. This work has been honored as a 2011 Buckminster Fuller Challenge Semi-Finalist, a 2011 Ocean Exchange Gulfstream Navigator Finalist, 2011 Katerva Award Nominee, 2013 National Geographic Society Explorer Award, 2016 Rolex Award Finalist. He is principal investigator for SoarOcean, a grant from National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions to use low cost conservation drones for coastal monitoring. From 2014-2017, he was project engineer/technologist for the Okavango Wilderness Project, an ambitious effort to create an open source environmental monitoring mesh network to monitor Botswana’s pristine Okavango Delta. He has provided comprehensive conservation technology strategy for Pew Environment Group, Waitt Institute, Center for Ocean Solutions, XPrize, New England Aquarium and a number of other smaller organizations with specialized projects or focus on a specific part of the world. He also traveled to Palau with Stanford University to help the government build environmental technology startups to protect their pristine waters.
Selbe is a National Geographic Society Fellow, New England Aquarium Ocean Conservation Fellow, and PopTech Social Innovation Fellow. He is developing an open source hardware and web open science platform called FieldKit (fieldkit.org) that will help researchers, students, and explorers share live environmental and field data on an interactive site. He is building an extensive library of open source sensor systems that can be used in science and conservation research. Before becoming a conservation technologist, Selbe spent 10 years as a rocket scientist building and launching satellites with Boeing.
Emerging Technologies; Technology Prototyping and Development; Drones; Conservation Leadership; Social Media; Public Speaking; Conservation in Developing Countries; Advocacy; Education
- 2019 Forbes Magazine: How Do You Revolutionize Environmental Science? Cheap Sensors!
- Wall Street Journal: The Rocket Science Environmentalist
- UCR: Outstanding Young Alumnus (video)
- HackSpace: Open Source Hardware for Nature Conservation
- WGBH Forum—Shah Selbe: Using Technology to Save the World
- National Geographic: Shah Selbe
- Nat Geo: Engineer and Conservation Technologist
- Maekan: Conservation Technology with Shah Selbe
- National Geographic: An Explorers Festival Conversation with Shah Selbe and Joe Grabowski
Awards and Fellowships
2019 Hackaday Grand prize; Fieldkit
2017 XPrize Ocean Mapping Judge
2016 National Geographic Fellow
2016 Rolex Award Finalist
2013 National Geographic Explorer
2015 PopTech Social InnovationFellow
2014 UCR Outstanding Young Alumni Award
2011 Buckminster Fuller Challenge Semi-Finalist
2011 Ocean Exchange Gulfstream Navigator Finalist