KAUST Professor Awarded Catalonia’s Highest Honor in Ecology

A Professor of Marine Science at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) has received the 2019 Ramon Margalef Prize in Ecology from the Generalitat of Catalonia.

The international jury of the Ramon Margalef Prize has distinguished Professor Carlos Duarte as a world leader in marine ecology and biological oceanography, for his research into 'blue carbon.' His findings have been adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and are considered a fundamental contribution to mitigate the effects of Global Warming on our planet.

On receiving the award Professor Duarte said, "I am deeply honored to have my research contributions and scientific discoveries in the fields of marine ecology and biological oceanography recognized by an award that celebrates my mentor Prof. Ramon Margalef. I am grateful to my collaborators who helped to make these achievements possible and to KAUST's Vice President of Research, Prof. Donal Bradley, along with colleagues in the KAUST Research Office, who prepared the highlights in my nomination."

The prize is one of the most significant awards granted by the Catalan administration in the field of ecology. The award will be presented by the president of the Generalitat, Quim Torra on November 18 of this year in Barcelona and includes an endowment of 80,000 euros.

In the fifteenth edition of this award, the jury has valued Duarte as an "ecologist deeply committed to communicating scientific discoveries to a wider audience and emphasizing ocean solutions to some of the most important environmental problems of this century."

Among many scientific discoveries and advances, Professor Duarte has demonstrated the global importance of marine ecosystems in shallow water, as well as the significance of the "hidden forests of the biosphere" and its valuable ecosystems, such as its seagrasses that sequester large amounts of carbon.

Underpinning his research Professor Duarte stresses that protection, maintenance and improvement are key to allowing the underwater environment to continue to flourish.

Professor Duarte and his colleagues have shown that vegetated coastal ecosystems act as carbon sinks and how carbon is buried in coastal sediments. He coined the discovery 'blue carbon' and it is becoming increasingly influential in climate change strategies and negotiations.

He has also organized and directed the Malaspina Circumnavigation Expedition to assess the state of the world ocean, with the participation of more than 400 scientists from around the world, who made key discoveries about the functioning and biodiversity of the dark ocean, in addition to providing data and unprecedented samples for further research.

Professor Duarte continues his ground-breaking research in the Red Sea Research Center and Computational Bioscience Research Centers of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia, where he is currently investigating carbon flow and genomics of marine ecosystems and the role of marine biota in biogeochemical flows.