UP MSI’s Rene Abesamis is Granted a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation for Work on Coral Reef Protection

Rene Abesamis, Ph.D., an Associate Professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman – Marine Science Institute, is a recipient of the 2024 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Over the 3-year fellowship, Abesamis will receive $150,000 to support his work on enhancing local capacity to identify and protect climate-resilient coral reefs in the central Philippines.

Abesamis is one of the six international researchers who will enter the fellows program this year. Joining the ranks of the earliest Marine Fellows in 1990, Abesamis is among only three other Filipinos who have entered the program, two of which are national scientists: National Scientist Angel C. Alcala (1999), National Scientist and UP MSI Founder Edgardo D. Gomez (2001), and Academician Jurgenne H. Primavera (2005).

Recognizing the importance of coral reefs to coastal communities, Abesamis will engage local and national stakeholders to strengthen the protection of climate-resilient reefs. “Identifying and protecting coral reefs in the Philippines that are more resilient to the impacts of climate change is crucial because coastal communities in this region are highly dependent on coral reefs for food and livelihood,” the Pew Fellow said.

Working in two MPA networks in the South Negros Marine Key Biodiversity Area (SNMKBA), Abesamis will train citizen scientists to survey and assess reefs as well as streamline processes for sharing information with environmental managers. He will also map resilient reef sites in the region by developing indicators like coral diversity and reef fish abundance. These efforts will be made possible through collaboration with local researchers, leading scientists, and other Pew Fellows. Being deeply inspired by community members who tirelessly strive to manage coral reefs despite the challenges, he will put stakeholders at the heart of his work and inform them with the best available science.

Emphasizing the key role of local stakeholders, the insights gained in Abesamis’s project will be used to inform the Philippines’ National Coral Reef Strategy and to work towards the goal of protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030. “I hope that this work will clearly demonstrate how local stakeholders from various backgrounds and occupations can meaningfully contribute to identifying and protecting climate-resilient reefs. I also hope that the experiences from this research will be useful to policymakers at the national level,” Abesamis said.

The program, with more than 200 Fellows from 42 countries, supports mid-career scientists and experts looking for solutions to the problems affecting the oceans. The fellows are selected by an international committee of marine science experts and undergo a rigorous nomination and review process.

The Pew Charitable Trusts is a global research and public policy organization with programs dedicated to environmental initiatives, including support for marine research.

Access Dr. Abesamis’s Directory Page here: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/projects/marine-fellows/fellows-directory/2024/rene-abesamis

For media inquiries, please contact:

Communications Team
UP Marine Science Institute
Email: content@msi.upd.edu.ph