UH scientist is awarded $150,000 for reef work
The coral researcher earns the prestigious Pew Fellowship
Bob Richmond, research professor at the University of Hawaii-Manoa's Kewalo Marine Laboratory, has received the premier international award in marine conservation for working to preserve Pacific coral reefs.
Renowned worldwide as a leader in coral reef conservation, Richmond is one of five scientists awarded the prestigious 2006 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation.
He will receive $150,000 to conduct a three-year conservation project, the Pew Institute for Ocean Science at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science announced.
UH oceanographer Craig Smith won a Pew Fellowship in 2004 to design marine-protected areas in international waters.
Richmond said he was surprised to be selected as a Pew Marine Conservation Fellow. "It is big competition. It is nice to be nominated, but not too many people get it," he said in an interview. "It is a great honor."
The focus of the award "really is on the issue rather than the person," he said. "I'm just delighted. It is an opportunity to move forward on some coral reef preservation efforts."
Richmond joined the Kewalo Marine Laboratory two years ago after 20 years at the University of Guam's Marine Lab, which he developed into a prominent coral reef research facility.
"In the tradition of the Pew Fellows, Dr. Richmond's quarter-century of tireless work to preserve the coral reefs of the Pacific has distinguished him as a pioneer of marine conservation, discovering new solutions for protecting and preserving our oceans worldwide," Ellen Pikitch, executive director of the Pew Institute for Ocean Science and a Pew Fellow, said in announcing the award.
Richmond said he will use the fellowship to continue work with colleagues on development of molecular biomarkers -- forensic tools to detect cellular reactions in corals triggered by stressors.
He said biomarkers in corals are proving effective in identifying physiological and cellular stress at early stages when management efforts have the greatest chance of effectiveness.
The project goal is to learn "how we can best provide adequate information upon which to make sound decisions that affect coral reef conservation," he said.
"It's kind of a shame in a way that only one person gets the fellowship," he added, explaining that his collaborators contributed significantly to his selection as a Pew Fellow.
They have been working 20 years on regional issues and coral conservation, seeking information critical to decision-makers and coral reef management, he said.
Richmond was an invited panelist for the Pew Oceans Commission and U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy hearings for coral reef issues and has held many other national and international roles as a scientific adviser and consultant on coral reef conservation.
The Pew Fellows are selected by an international committee of marine specialists based on their potential to protect ocean environments.