media release

Ecologist nets international recognition

October 07, 2013
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Contact:
Anne Salomon, 778.782.8739, 778.866.1646 (cell), anne.salomon@sfu.ca
Carol Thorbes, PAMR, 778.782.3035, cthorbes@sfu.ca

Photos: http://at.sfu.ca/xeQFMd

Simon Fraser University researcher Anne Salomon, recently awarded the International Recognition of Professional Excellence Prize (IRPE) by East Europe’s International Ecology Institute (ECI) in Oldendorf, Germany, is still dumbfounded by the recognition.

What really floored the Faculty of Environment ecologist was the institute’s raising of a Canadian flag at its award ceremony in her honour.

“I felt like I’d won an Olympic medal,” says the Vancouver resident who is already internationally recognized for her research on how human- and nature-driven changes combine to alter coastal marine ecosystems.

The ECI is a non-profit organization of highly cited international research ecologists. They are dedicated to advancing environmental sciences and bridging the gap between ecological sciences and its application to decision-making for human benefit. The organization publishes six high-profile, peer-reviewed journals in the fields of ecology, limnology, climate change and endangered species research.

Its annual IRPE Prize goes to an ecologist, 40 years of age or under, who “has published uniquely independent, original and/or challenging research representing an important scientific breakthrough, and/or must work under particularly difficult conditions.” It carries with it an endowment worth $4,000 CDN.

Salomon’s research explores the surf-swept, rocky reefs of Alaska, California, New Zealand and most recently coastal British Columbia. In praising her work, the IRPE jury highlighted Salomon’s investigation of how human and natural forces are triggering profound shifts in coastal B.C.’s forest ecosystems, economies and cultures.

“These studies require collaboration with native groups and other stakeholders, with the goal of balancing conservation and resource use,” says a jury statement. “The jury emphasizes the broad approach in her work and her ability to combine concern for conservation with good science.”

Salomon consults broadly with a variety of stakeholders in seeking to design marine policies that better balance the needs of people and nature.

“I fundamentally believe that humans are an integral part of ecosystems, and have been for millennia,” says Salomon. “In order to understand, conserve and manage ecosystems we need to understand human interactions and involve coastal communities in our research as informed collaborators.”

Salomon and her students are studying how fish and shellfish harvesting by humans combine with the expiration and recovery of predators, such as sea otters, to trigger a cascade of effects across kelp-forest food webs. Her lab is documenting how these effects cause coastal ecosystems to breach tipping points and shift into fundamentally different states, ultimately altering ecosystem processes on which humans depend.

Drawing on techniques in many different disciplines, Salomon combines data from ecological field surveys, experiments, satellite remote sensing, ecosystem modeling, historical records, traditional knowledge and archaeological data to help devise solutions to coastal conservation problems.

Simon Fraser University is Canada's top-ranked comprehensive university and one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 120,000 alumni in 130 countries.

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Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities

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