Dr. Sonia Rowley, post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, marine biologist and BSAC technical diver, has won the prestigious Sir David Attenborough Award for Fieldwork from the Systematics Association and the Linnean Society of London.
Dr. Rowley, who is the daughter of BSAC Technical group leader Mike Rowley, is only the third person to receive this award, which was given to her based on her project entitled “Exploration and Systematics of Twilight Reef Gorgonian Corals at Pakin Atoll”. Dr. Rowley uses a rebreather to conduct dives at depths of more that 150m in order to research ‘twilight zone reefs’, otherwise known as known as Mesophotic coral ecosystems or MCEs. An estimated 80% of coral reefs exist between 30-150m depth and these mostly unexplored areas are purported to be some of the most diverse marine environments on the planet.
Dr Mark Wilkinson, President of The Systematics Association said: “The David Attenborough Award is made to a recipient of the Systematics Research Fund who has conducted pioneering and inspirational scientific research through fieldwork. Sonia Rowley’s work epitomises the spirit of the award.”