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 UWC Marine Biologist Prof Mark Gibbons awarded top honours for contributions to marine science in Southern Africa

UWC Marine Biologist Prof Mark Gibbons awarded top honours for contributions to marine science in Southern Africa


Held every three years, the Southern African Marine Science Symposium (SAMSS) attempts to bring together marine scientists from across southern Africa to present their research to the broader marine science community.   At the conference banquet, awards are presented in various categories to those individuals who have made huge contributions to the study of marine science for the sub-continent.  Of these awards, the Gilchrist Memorial Medal (in honour of John D.F. Gilchrist, considered the father of South African marine science) is the highest honour that can be bestowed on any individual.


The Gilchrist Memorial Medal was established in 1987 by the old South African National Committee for Oceanographic Research (SANCOR) in association with the South African Marine Corporation Limited (Safmarine) to be awarded to distinguished marine scientists.  The Medal serves as recognition of the recipients’ contributions to marine science, to further stimulate excellence in South African marine science, and to focus attention on South Africa’s marine and coastal environments.  At the 15th SAMSS (15-18 July 2014), Prof Mark Gibbons, departmental chairperson of the Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology at our University, was one of two recipients of this prestigious award.


In addition, and completely independent of the award, Prof Gibbons delivered the final plenary keynote address of the conference.  Prof Gibbons’ topic, How can we, as a southern African marine science community, improve our ability to understand SEACHANGE? An illustrative case study, presented a strong argument for how much more productive collaborative research, notably from ‘outside interventions’, can be.  Prof Gibbons went on to present some thought-provoking statistics (on who we are as a community of marine biologists) and concluded by challenging South African marine scientists and institutions to be more collaborative rather than competitive in these fast changing times.  Prof Gibbons is well deserving of the award (a sentiment echoed by internationally renowned marine biologist Prof George Branch) and is one of the youngest marine scientists yet to have had it bestowed on them.


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