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First Anthropologist Wins Premier Ocean Award

For immediate release

7 February 2005


For the first time in its fifteen-year history, the world's most prestigious award in marine conservation has been given to an anthropologist.

Dr. Shankar Aswani, an honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at The University of Auckland, will use his Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation to continue his work with communities in the western Pacific's Solomon Islands.

"Dr. Aswani's work on Marine Protected Areas in the South Pacific will no doubt make an important contribution to environmental health and food security in the region, adding to the growing conservation legacy of the Pew Fellows," says Dr. Ellen Pikitch, Executive Director of the Pew Institute for Ocean Science at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School, and a Pew Fellow herself.

Each Pew Fellow receives $150,000 to conduct a three-year project, and they join the world's premier network for ocean science and conservation. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation has selected 89 Pew Fellows who have completed projects across the globe. Fellowships are funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by the Pew Institute for Ocean Science.

Through education and collaboration, Aswani aims over the next three years to establish a network of Marine Protected Areas designed to preserve vital resources and vulnerable species such as coconut crabs, sea turtles, and dugongs (sea cows) in the Solomon Islands, which are located east of Papua New Guinea.

One of only five international awardees this year, Aswani is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and in the Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Born in Spain, Aswani is the second Spanish national to earn a Pew Fellowship. He speaks six languages, including two languages native to the Solomon Islands. Aswani holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a B.A. in Marine Affairs and Anthropology from the University of Miami.

An international committee of marine specialists selected the 2005 Pew Fellows in Marine Conservation based on their potential to protect ocean environments. The other 2005 Pew Fellows are: Miriam Fernandez, Chile; Sarah Fowler, United Kingdom; Laurence McCook, Australia; and Jurgenne Primavera, Philippines.

Photographs and more information about each of the 2005 Pew Fellows are available by request. Detailed information about all 89 Pew Fellows in Marine Conservation is available at


The Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation is part of the Pew Institute for Ocean Science, in partnership with the University of Miami. The Pew Institute for Ocean Science strives to undertake, sponsor, and promote world-class scientific activity aimed at protecting the world's oceans and the species that inhabit them.

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