Natacha Pisarenko, a photojournalist who has covered major news and sports events across Latin America and around the world, has been named chief photographer for The Associated Press for the Southern Cone countries of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile.

The appointment was announced Monday by Enric Marti, AP's regional photo editor for Latin America.

"Pisarenko is a great all-around photographer and has excelled at covering sports and producing poignant photo essays," said Marti. "She has proven herself to be a capable leader as well, and I am pleased she will be assuming this new role."

Based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pisarenko will lead a team of photographers while working closely with videographers, reporters and editors across the four countries. She has been acting chief photographer for the region since late last year.

"I'm delighted by Natacha's promotion," said Victor Caivano, the AP's news director for the Southern Cone. "Her new leadership role in the Southern Cone team will elevate our report and keep us ahead with fascinating images and photo-driven stories."

Pisarenko, 40, joined the AP in Buenos Aires in 2002 and has covered Olympics in Sochi, Beijing and London, the Argentina-Chile Dakar Rally, Carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, the rescue of 33 miners in Chile in 2010 and a devastating earthquake in Chile that same year. She went to Afghanistan on assignment in 2003.

Pisarenko also shoots video, and the vast amount of photos and video footage she produced from a rare visit with scientists to Antarctica early this year were widely used by news outlets worldwide.

Last year, she came up with the idea for a powerful project looking at links that Argentines have made between their health problems and agrochemicals. Her photographs and story with then-Southern Cone Bureau Chief Michael Warren won an award from The Deadline Club, the New York City Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, in the category for science, technology, medical or environmental reporting.

She also won a first place award from the Press Club of Atlantic City in the sports photography category for magazines, news services or syndicates for an image from last year's World Cup semifinal soccer match between Brazil and Germany.

Born in Buenos Aires, Pisarenko studied photography at the city's School of Photographic Arts and began her photojournalism career at La Nacion, one of Argentina's largest newspapers.