Dr. Roberto Arrigoni awarded Benazzi Lentati prize

Dr. Roberto Arrigoni, a research scientist in the University's Red Sea Research Center, won the prize 'Benazzi Lentati' in zoology by L'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei recently in Rome. Image courtesy of Roberto Arrigoni.

Dr. Roberto Arrigoni, a research scientist in the University's Red Sea Research Center (RSRC), has been awarded the international prize "Benazzi Lentati" in zoology by L'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei at a recent ceremony in Rome.

"It is a great honor to receive this prize...I am deeply grateful to my P.I. Professor Michael L. Berumen for his continuous efforts and stimulating discussions and to KAUST for constantly supporting my research activities," Arrigoni said.

The biennial international "Benazzi Lentati" prize is dedicated to young researchers under 35 years of age in the field of organismic evolutionary zoology. The prize is named after Giuseppina Benazzi Lentati and Mario Benazzi, two important Italian zoologists, as well as former members of L'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei—the oldest scientific association in the world—which was founded in 1603 by Federico Cesi.

Arrigoni has been awarded the prize for his research in the subject of the ongoing threats to the coral reef ecosystem in several biogeographic areas of the Indo-Pacific, in which he studies different aspects like ecology, systematics, evolution and genetic diversity. In particular, he focused his attention on scleractinian corals (Cnidaria, Anthozoa and Scleractinia), which are the most important reef builders worldwide. Arrigoni used both molecular and morphological methods that led him to discover and describe new species and their evolutionary relationships.

Arrigoni received the prize during the closing ceremony of the academy's academic year, which took place at the Palazzo Corsini in Rome with both Sergio Mattarella, president of the Italian Republic, and Sergio Costa, minister of the environment, in attendance.

Arrigoni joined KAUST in March 2015 as a postdoctoral fellow in the Reef Ecology Lab and is currently a research scientist in the same group. His main studies address systematics, phylogeny and biogeography of scleractinian corals from the Indo-Pacific, with a particular focus on the Red Sea coral fauna. He is interested in the integration of genetics and morphology to evaluate coral biodiversity and to enhance the field of coral taxonomy.

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