AsianScientist (Apr. 5, 2021) – Four scientists from Asia were recently named 2021 Pew Fellows in Marine Conversation by the US-based non-government organization Pew Charitable Trusts. The newest crop of Pew Marine Fellows was officially announced on March 31, 2021.
While scientists worldwide have been valiantly leading the fight against COVID-19, others have been busy protecting another vital resource—our oceans. With nearly three billion people directly dependent on them for their livelihoods, protecting them is practically synonymous with protecting human life. Given the need to address the ocean’s most critical challenges, the Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation was initiated by Pew Charitable Trust in 1990.
Each year, outstanding researchers working on ocean conservation are nominated for the fellowship. After a rigorous selection process by an international committee of marine science experts, each Pew Fellow is then given US$150,000 over three years to enact his or her project of choice. This year, nine new fellows were named, with four of them coming from Asia.
The 2021 Pew Marine Fellows are: Dr. Gakushi Ishimura, Associate Professor at Japan’s Iwate University; Dr. Neo Mei Lin, Senior Research Fellow at the National University of Singapore; Dr. Tries Blandine Razak, Research Fellow at Indonesia’s IPB University and Mr. Wang Songlin, President and founder of China’s Qingdao Marine Conservation Society.
The topics tackled by each fellow focus on one aspect of ocean protection or sustainability. For example, Ishimura will investigate how fisheries react to extreme events and how to use this knowledge to promote socioeconomic resilience and sustainability. He was inspired to pursue this topic by the recent industry response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the effects of the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake on the people of Honshu island.
Southeast Asia is one of the few regions in the world with a high diversity of giant clam species, and yet populations of these invertebrates are steadily decreasing. Alarmed by the threat of human consumption of giant clams, Neo will study key drivers of their decline in the region. She intends to turn these findings into actionable recommendations for giant clam conservation.
Similarly, Razak will use a combination of data science and laboratory work to study the approaches and conditions that promote long-term coral reef restoration in Indonesia. She will use these findings to create a spatialization plan that governments can use to determine ideal restoration sites.
Lastly, Wang will work with different stakeholders in China to create an effective management strategy for the Bohai Grass Eelgrass Bed. Discovered in 2015, the nearly 20-square mile eelgrass bed is the largest in the country and a known ‘natural carbon sink’ but has no existing legal protection or conservation plan to this day.
Other recipients of the grant hail from the United States, Panama, Canada and France. Since the start of the project, Pew has recognized over 189 fellows from more than 40 countries.
“We are honored to welcome the newest cohort of experts to the active community of Pew marine fellows,” said Dr. Rebecca Goldburg, director of environmental research and science at The Pew Charitable Trusts. “These individuals are undertaking exciting new research projects that will directly address ocean conservation and management needs around the world. I look forward to working with them over the coming years.”
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts; Photo: Unsplash.
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