Coral researchers recognized for significant contributions to field

coral reef in Australia

Iliana Baums and her research team were recognized by members of the coral reef community as making significant contributions to coral reef research. Image: Jayne Jenkins/Coral Reef Image Bank

Iliana Baums, professor of biology in the Eberly College of Science, and her research team were recognized as one of the top 15 coral reef research contributors by members of the coral reef community. The survey was done by Environment Coastal & Offshore (ECO) Magazine. The team’s paper, “Considerations for Maximizing the Adaptive Potential of Restored Coral Populations in The Western Atlantic,” was listed in ECO’s 2020 coral reef special issue for its specific guidelines on coral restoration.

“The Caribbean has experienced tremendous coral loss over the last few decades and coral restoration has become an urgent issue in the region,” said Baums, who also is a faculty member in Penn State’s Ecology Institute. “Our group came together to provide concrete guidelines for restoring coral populations, using the best available data.”

Baums said that translating basic science into concrete actions takes courage because there are often gaps in current knowledge. However, at the rate of coral loss, it is important to act now.

“We are happy that the coral community appreciated our efforts,” she said. “It’s a wonderful honor to receive.”

Erica Smithwick, director of the Ecology Institute, said Penn State has expansive research capacity in the area of resilience and adaptation, one of the core interdisciplinary research themes of the institute.

“Dr. Baum’s research team, and this special recognition, epitomize this strength through her ground-breaking research on coral resilience and restoration,” Smithwick said. “It’s wonderful to see her recognized for these ongoing accomplishments by the coral reef community.”

In addition to Baums, the research team was made up of three researchers from Penn State: Sheila Kitchen, Todd LaJeunesse and Andrew Shantz. It also included Andrew Baker, University of Miami; Sarah Davies, Boston University; Andréa Grottoli, Ohio State University; Carly Kenkel, University of Southern California; Ilsa Kuffner, U.S Geological Survey; Mikhail Matz, University of Texas at Austin; and Margaret Miller and John Parkinson, SECORE International.

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