University of Michigan senior and nature filmmaker Charlie Engelman beat out more than 700 competitors to win the National Geographic Channel's Expedition Granted contest.

Engelman will receive $50,000 to fund an expedition to forests across the United States. He plans to climb California redwoods and fly over forests in a paramotor (a motorized, steerable paraglider) while filming it all to create 20 to 30 short, science-based online videos. He will also be featured in an on-air promotion on the National Geographic Channel.

"This is absolutely amazing. The support I received from my family, friends, neighbors, classmates and professors was just incredible. Thanks to the voters and National Geographic, I can now produce the nature series of my dreams," said Engelman, 21, an ecology and evolutionary biology major with a minor in museum studies.

"The ultimate point of all this is that people will watch these videos because they're fun. And if there's educational content paired with it, then viewers are going to learn something in the process," said Engelman, who grew up in Northfield, Ill.

Launched in June, Expedition Granted received more than 700 entries via web videos that outlined proposed exploration projects in science, technology, conservation, adventure, arts and other topics. Ten finalists were selected by the National Geographic Channel on Sept. 16, based on the projects' originality, ability to make an impact on the local and/or global community, and viability.

Once the finalists were named, the public was invited to vote online for the winning proposal through Sept. 29. The winner was announced Tuesday. Engelman's winning proposal is called "Get pumped about nature!" and received the most votes among nearly 400,000 votes cast, according to the National Geographic Channel.

"This is a marvelous achievement, won against very stiff competition," said Professor Diarmaid Ó Foighil, chair of the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Read more in this Michigan News press release

The news has appeared in the University Record and, among others. Listen to the WEMU (National Public Radio) interview podcast

National Geographic Expedition Granted website, watch the winning video. 

Watch more of Engelman's WorldByCharlie videos on EEB's YouTube channel