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AIMS scientist awarded Centenary Medal for contributions to marine science

AIMS scientist awarded Centenary Medal for contributions to marine science

10 June 2003 -- Dr. Eric Wolanski, FTSE, Leading Scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), has been recognized with the Australian Centenary Medal for his "distinguished service to Australian society in estuarine and coastal oceanography." The Centenary Medal is awarded by the Prime Minister to recognize those who have helped significantly to enhance the well being of Australia.

Seven years ago, IBM provided a three-year million dollar IBM Environmental Research Program grant to AIMS in support of their research into learning how to preserve the economic, recreational and environmental viability of coral reefs and mangroves. IBM’s technology has enabled Dr. Wolanski and his researchers to produce mathematical models and visualization tools that allow scientists to better understand the complex interactions among coral reefs and mangroves and to share information and work together to determine actions needed to better manage and protect these vital resources. The focus of the AIMS research is not only Australia, with its 2,600-kilometer-long Great Barrier Reef, but all of Southeast Asia, where the reefs and mangroves can be of crucial economic value to developing countries.

Dr. Wolanski has been working at the AIMS since 1978 and received his Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the Johns Hopkins University in 1972. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, chief editor of two scientific journals, and has authored three books. In addition, Dr. Wolanski is the author of more than 250 international journal publications.

Most recently, Dr. Wolanski has been researching the impacts of the disconnect between watershed-based activities and marine conservation on the survival of coral reefs. Human-induced disturbances to the coral reefs include mining, over-fishing, pesticides from river catchments, and increased nutrient concentrations and runoff of mud which have resulted in serious environmental degradation. A science-based model which can predict the impact of various land use and reef fisheries decisions can now help land and marine resources managers save coral reefs. The model indicates that human activities have already degraded reef health for a vast area of the Great Barrier Reef and will continue to do so in the future if actions are not taken to control poor land-use practices, manage fisheries through quotas and establish marine protected areas.

To learn more about the ongoing exciting research of Dr. Wolanski and AIMS, visit the AIMS Web site (link resides outside of ibm.com).