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Professor Ellen Pikitch Named 2024 NYSMEA Research Award Winner

Ellen Pikitch

The award honors scientists or educators who have contributed greatly to the knowledge of marine environments

STONY BROOK, NY – April 22, 2024 – Ellen Pikitch, PhD, Endowed Professor of Ocean Conservation Science in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) at Stony Brook University, has received the 2024 Hugo and Anita Freudenthal Research Award for her significant contributions to furthering scientists’ understanding of the marine environment.

Ellen Pikitch
Ellen Pikitch, PhD, in her Stony Brook University SoMAS office. Credit: Tyler Mooney

Presented by the New York State Marine Education Association (NYSMEA), the award is given to standout marine scientists or educators. Pikitch is the third recipient of the Hugo and Anita Freudenthal Research Award. It was presented to her via a NYSMEA zoom event on April 20.

The award is named after two pioneering marine science researcher and educators in New York State. Hugo Freudenthal was the first to recognize the symbiotic relationship between algae and corals in the 1950s and developed the first space toilet for NASA. Anita Freudenthal was the first, and only, marine biologist for Nassau County decades ago. Both taught marine sciences at C.W. Post College.

“It is especially appropriate that Dr. Pikitch be awarded the Hugo and Anita Freudenthal Research Award, as both she and the Freudenthals worked both globally and locally,” said Lou Siegel, Director of NYSMEA. “The New York State Marine Education Association appreciates Ellen’s commitment to explaining her research to local educators and to the general public through presentations, including one for NYSMEA.”

Siegel has long followed Pikitch’s career. Their connection began when she was growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was her marine biology teacher at John Dewey High School in Coney Island.

In addition to her faculty position at SoMAS, Pikitch is Executive Director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science, an academically-based institute with a mission to advance ocean conservation through science, outreach, and action.  It has been based at Stony Brook University and led by Pikitch since she began her Stony Brook tenure in 2008.

“I am honored to receive the Freudenthal Award, named after two research pioneers who made important scientific contributions spanning ocean waters to space, and from local to global regions of the Earth. I am also so pleased to have this award bestowed upon me by an organization in my home state, whose founders played a pivotal role in launching my career,” says Pikitch.

Throughout her career, Pikitch has been involved in marine research activities both nationally and internationally. Much of her research focuses on ocean conservation science, with emphasis on marine protected areas (MPAs), fish conservation and fisheries sustainability, ecosystem-based fishery management, and endangered fishes.

Before coming to Stony Brook, Pikitch served for seven years in various roles at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). During this time, she built a program to encompass field research operations in 18 countries spanning four ocean basins and spearheaded several successful ocean policy campaigns for the organization.

Pikitch has been the recipient of a number of global, regional and national awards and distinctions, including the Hope Spot Champion Award, the Oscar E. Sette Award, the Ocean Hero Award, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), The Explorers Club, and the Pew Marine Fellows program.  She also serves on the advisory boards of several international organizations.

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