Through its Fellows Program in Marine Conservation, The Pew Charitable Trusts supports a community of experts working to solve some of the most pressing and complex threats to the ocean. We are proud to announce the 2023 cohort of marine fellows—seven individuals from six countries who will conduct ambitious, three-year projects to produce evidence and tools that will underpin marine conservation around the world.
Every year brings a new group of experts to the Pew marine fellows community, along with new lines of research and an ever-expanding geographic impact. Here’s how the 2023 Pew marine fellows will deepen humankind’s knowledge about the ocean, and our understanding of how to best conserve it.
Members of this year’s cohort will work to make marine conservation and management efforts more inclusive and reflective of surrounding coastal communities. For example, Emma Lee, an Aboriginal Tasmanian who is a professorial research fellow with Federation University Australia, will work alongside Aboriginal communities, research institutions, and others to construct a framework for incorporating Indigenous knowledge and practices in Tasmania’s research and conservation efforts. Lee is the first Indigenous Australian to be named a Pew fellow in marine conservation.
And in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S., Western Washington University associate professor Marco Hatch will help create a collaborative network of Indigenous community members and scientists to support equitable research partnerships and Indigenous-led restoration of ancestral sea gardens. In a technique dating back some 3,500 years, communities terrace intertidal areas to create sea gardens that extend habitats suitable for cultivating clams and other species for food. Hatch is the first member of the Samish Indian Nation to be awarded the fellowship.
Other fellows will launch projects to engage community members in marine conservation planning and decision-making. Leandra Gonçalves, an assistant professor with Federal University of São Paulo in Brazil, will explore factors to strengthen marine conservation by involving local communities near the São Paulo State Marine Protected Areas Network, which is situated in a densely populated area of the country.
Ifesinachi Okafor-Yarwood, a lecturer at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, will investigate how fisheries closures in Ghana are affecting nearby communities. She will also research fisheries management practices inspired by local ecological knowledge and will inform the development of conservation strategies that are locally appropriate and more sustainable.
Researcher Stan Shea will conduct the first in-depth analysis of a decade’s worth of data collected by citizen-scientist divers in Hong Kong to produce insights about the condition and conservation needs of the area’s diverse reef fish populations. Shea is the marine program director at both BLOOM Association Hong Kong, a marine conservation organization, and ADM Capital Foundation, a philanthropic organization with an environmental focus.
Innovations in technology
Harnessing technological advances to study marine life is a continued focus for Pew fellows. Juan Patino-Martinez—the scientific coordinator for Maio Biodiversity Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Cape Verde—plans to develop novel, low-cost tracking devices to monitor and inform efforts to protect highly mobile marine animals, such as turtles and whales. Patino-Martinez will use the new tools to study sea turtle behaviors and habitats near Cape Verde and Principe, off the west coast of Africa.
This year, the Pew marine fellows program is partnering with the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences to support the application of techniques or technologies more commonly used in biomedical science to enhance marine conservation. The inaugural recipient of this fellowship is Phillip Cleves, a researcher with Carnegie Institution for Science and John Hopkins University in Baltimore. Cleves will use cutting-edge gene editing methods to study the genetic factors that control the symbiotic relationship between certain algae and reef-building corals, as well as the genetic mechanisms that protect against coral bleaching.
About the program
The Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation awards mid-career scientists and other experts $150,000 grants over three years to pursue conservation-oriented research projects. Fellows are selected by an international committee of marine science experts following a rigorous nomination and review process. Pew has recognized 202 marine fellows from 42 countries since the start of the program.
Rebecca Goldburg is director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ environmental science programs and Nathan Fedrizzi is a principal associate with the Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation.
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