Renowned biologist discusses "Caribbean Coral Reefs: The Kentucky Connection"
RELEASED: November 27, 2008
DANVILLE, KY—Why should Kentuckians care about coral reefs? What do these marine formations have to do with a land-locked state? In recognition of the International Year of the Reef (IYOR), Dr. Isabelle Côté, one of the world's most respected coral reef biologists, discussed these questions at Centre College during her talk, "Caribbean Coral Reefs: The Kentucky Connection," on Monday.
"The International Year of the Reef has been designated to promote awareness of the importance of coral reefs worldwide," says Dr. Paul Sikkel, Centre visiting assistant professor of biology and marine biologist. "Because Kentucky used to have extensive coral reefs and because Centre College is recognized as a leader in raising global awareness within the state, we felt it was important to bring IYOR to Kentucky through Centre."
Côté's talk is co-sponsored by the non-profit group Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) and the Kentucky Girls STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) Collaborative Project (KGCP).
Says Sikkel: "In recognition of the new STEM initiative in which Centre is participating, we also want to raise awareness of marine science as a career possibility for young women by bringing a prominent female scientist to campus. Isabelle is the perfect person to deliver both messages. She's not only one of the most prominent female coral reef scientists, but she's also one of the best in the business, period."
Sikkel says that no matter where we live, we depend on, and our lives are connected to, the ocean. This is the point Côté will make during her talk. Most of the biological diversity in the ocean is associated with coral reefs, and the people who live in tropical coastal areas and islands depend directly on the reef. Yet, much of the damage to reefs is due to activities that occur away from these areas, such as the burning of fossil fuels.
"From the oxygen we breathe to the food we eat, to the medicines we use, the oceans are vital to our existence," Sikkel says.
Côté is a professor of tropical marine ecology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. She and the members of her tropical marine ecology lab carry out research that ranges from pure behavioral ecology to applied ecology and conservation. Most of her work focuses on organisms living in or issues pertaining to tropical coastal ecosystems, particularly coral reefs.
Before coming to Simon Fraser, Côté taught at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. She also is former secretary of the International Society for Reef Studies, has studied coral reef ecology throughout the Caribbean and Indonesia, and has been published in top scientific journals.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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