Award recognises contribution to marine science
University of Waikato scientist Professor Conrad Pilditch is the 2018 winner of the New Zealand Marine Sciences Society Award. The Award recognises his continued and outstanding contribution to marine science in New Zealand.
Professor Pilditch, a Programme Leader for the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge, works on a diverse range of topics from mangroves to macrofauna, oceanography to shellfish feeding, and intertidal flats to the deep ocean. He specialises in the processes that influence the structure and function of soft-sediment communities on the seafloor.
As a biological scientist, his research seeks to understand how the major stressors in coastal environments – nutrient and sediment inputs from land – are affecting the biodiversity of soft bottom ecosystems in estuarine and coastal habitats.
His research aims to answer the question of why biodiversity matters, how to preserve it, and what the exact limits of biodiversity change are.
“We have had a lot of land use change in New Zealand, so we need to understand the implications of increasing, multiple stressors on coastal and ocean environments, and the levels of change they’re bringing about in order to adapt our actions accordingly.”
Professor Pilditch is an independent expert advisor for several regional council-led working groups and government agencies, and a regular reviewer for leading marine ecology research journals. He is renowned as an excellent teacher and science communicator and has supervised more than 30 postgraduate students in the last three years.
The Award, a bronze sculpture in the form of the internal spire of a gastropod shell (designed and manufactured by Wellington artist Nick Dryden), was presented at the New Zealand Marine Science Society’s annual conference in Napier in early July. Recipients are also given lifetime membership of the Society, and must continue to promote marine science in New Zealand by giving two or more public lectures.