2003 UH Hilo alumna receives marine conservation fellowship

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Date: Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

A University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo graduate was recently awarded the Marine Conservation Fellowship from PEW Charitable Trust. The PEW Fellows Program in Marine Conservation funds projects that address critical challenges in ocean conservation. Each year, five marine fellows are selected based on the strengths of their proposed projects, including the benefit their research will provide in protecting ocean environments.

Louisa Shobhini Ponnampalam, Ph.D., a 2003 UH Hilo marine science graduate and a research fellow at the Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was awarded $150,000 to conduct a three-year study on dugongs, a large coastal marine mammal that resembles the manatee. Ponnampalam will gather scientific data on Malaysia’s dugong population and their habitat to explore the distribution, relative abundance, movement, and patterns of habitat use utilizing visual, acoustic, and underwater surveys. Her research will also assist other scientists working to protect dugongs worldwide.

Ponnampalam is co-founder of the grassroots NGO, Malaysia’s first non-profit organization dedicated to research, conservation, and increasing public awareness of marine animals. Known for her passionate dedication to helping marine mammals, she is also vice-chair of the International Consortium for Marine Conservation and serves as a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission’s Cetacean and Sirenian Specialist Groups.


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