The Aleutian Islands, are a beautiful and remote place off the coast of Alaska. The islands are sandwiched between the Bering Sea and the North Pacific, and are famous for their wild weather and incredible landscapes. We are travelling to the Aleutians thanks to a grant from National Geographic Explorers in the Summer of 2016. The goal of our expedition is to discover the place of origin of invasive monkeyflowers (Mimulus guttatus), which have colonised Scotland, Europe and New Zealand from their native home in North America.

Our expedition will trace back the steps of a 19th century Prussian explorer, Gregor von Langsdorff, who first discovered this species in the Aleutians and brought it to Europe. Langsdorff was a naturalist, travelling with a Russian expedition to the wild territories of Alaska, where hunters and adventurers exploited the native population and natural resources of Alaska in their reckless search for fortune in the fur trade.

The expedition is funded by National Geographic.


Follow our Travel Blog to the Aleutians here


Exploration Team

Our exploration team is formed by three researchers with expertise in plants and evolution:

  • Mario Vallejo-Marin. Team Leader (Principal Investigator), National Geographic Explorer. University of Stirling, Scotland.
  • Joshua R. Puzey. Co-Investigator. The College of William and Mary, Virginia.
  • Steffi Ickert-Bond. Co-Investigator. University of Alaska, Fairbanks & Museum of the North.

In addition, in Unalaska, we will have the assistance of a local expert in the flora of the Aleutians, Suzi Golodoff, author of Flora of Unalaska.

We will also be joined by Jannice Friedman, an expert on North American monkeyflowers.