Nature Conservancy Scientist Michael Beck Awarded 2012 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation

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Project to Support Coastal Protection with Green Infrastructure

Mike Beck

Mike Beck (c) Steve Kurtz

With the support of the Pew Marine Fellowship, I will be able to show...that ecosystem restoration is an effective option for hazard mitigation & climate adaptation.

Michael W. Beck, Ph.D., lead scientist of the Global Marine Team at The Nature Conservancy, has been awarded a 2012 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation. His project seeks to promote ‘green infrastructure’ as a strategy for adapting to climate change and to support ecosystem recovery to help make communities less vulnerable to current coastal hazards.

“With the support of the Pew Marine Fellowship, I will be able to show through research and tools that ecosystem restoration is an effective option for hazard mitigation and climate adaptation,” said Beck. “I hope that my project will increase decision makers’ awareness and managers use of coastal habitats to protect against climate change impacts.”

The Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation is a prestigious program that gives recipients US$150,000 for a three-year scientific research or conservation project designed to address critical challenges facing our oceans. The fellowship will allow Beck to pursue the advantages of green infrastructure, such as wetlands and coral reefs, over traditional or ‘grey infrastructure,’ such as sea walls and jetties. His work will include developing tools to help decision makers address coastal risks from climate change and directing resources toward green infrastructure solutions with a specific focus on tropical nations.

Coastal development and climate change threaten near shore ecosystems. Increasingly, governments are allocating funds for the development of grey infrastructure that attempt to stop sea level rise or storm surges. These structures harm many of the same coastal systems that provide protection. Beck’s project will advance ecosystem-based adaptation, both to shield coastal communities and conserve the natural environment.

“Dr. Beck’s project is designed to demonstrate that the planet’s own defenses often provide shorelines with better protection against natural disasters than man-made structures,” said Joshua S. Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group. “His research should lead to better management decisions for the long-term security and well-being of coastal habitats and communities.”

Beck earned a B.A. and M.S. from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in biological sciences from Florida State University. He was a Fulbright Fellow and an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Sydney.

Currently, Beck’s work at The Nature Conservancy focuses on marine spatial planning in the U.S. and internationally, restoration following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the use of ecosystems for hazard mitigation and climate adaptation in the U.S., Caribbean and Micronesia. In addition, Beck is a research associate in the Institute for Marine Science at the University of California Santa Cruz. He presently serves on advisory committees for the National Academy of Science and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Science Advisory Board.

The Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation has awarded 125 fellowships to individuals from 32 countries. The Pew Marine Fellowships fund science and other projects that address critical challenges in the conservation of the oceans. Through a rigorous nomination and review process, a committee of marine specialists from around the world selects Pew Marine Fellows based on the strengths of their proposed projects, including their potential to protect ocean environments. Unique and timely projects led by outstanding professionals in their fields are chosen annually, targeting individuals who are mid-career. The program is managed by the Pew Environment Group, based in Washington, D.C.

More information about each of the 2012 Pew Marine Fellows, including photographs and a video about the recipients, is available at

The Pew Environment Group is the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-governmental organization that works globally to establish pragmatic, science-based policies that protect our oceans, preserve our wildlands, and promote clean energy.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide.


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