Nobel Conference 48 Profile of Ove Hoegh-Guldberg

Posted on September 25th, 2012 by

If whales are the iconic species for ocean conservation, then coral reefs are the iconic ecosystem. Coral reefs are centers of ocean biodiversity, occupying less than 0.1 percent of the ocean surface while supporting 25 percent of the world’s marine species. With the riot of color and panoply of creatures adapted to these unique environments, coral reefs also attract human attention on simple aesthetic grounds. Nobel Conference 48, “Our Global Ocean,” would not have been complete without a close look at the science of coral reefs.

Dr. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, whose research has focused on multiple facets of coral reefs, is currently the Director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland in Australia. He has frequently stepped forward to explain and illustrate coral reef science. Because his scientific work is joined with an enthusiasm for communication, Dr. Hoegh-Guldberg is a logical choice as a speaker for Nobel Conference 48, especially since he has focused on urgent threats to these vital ecosystems.

Coral reef ecosystems arise from a distinctive collaboration of biology and geology—the reef structure itself is built by anemone-like creatures that collaborate with photosynthesizing protozoans for food production, and in the process create the calcium carbonate reef formations.

Located in shallow coastal waters, and living within tight depth and water quality constraints, coral reefs are vulnerable to environmental changes of all sorts. Ocean temperature and chemistry, both changing rapidly due to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, threaten to disrupt the unique biological collaboration that creates and sustains reefs.

Dr. Hoegh-Guldberg’s formative studies at the University of Sydney and UCLA, as well as a distinguished research career first at the University of Sydney and then at the University of Queensland, have well prepared him to address this topic. In 1999 he was recognized with the Eureka Prize for his research. The Australian State of Queensland named him the Smart State Premier’s Fellow for 2008–2013.

We hope that you will be able to join us for Professor Hoegh-Guldberg’s lecture at Nobel Conference 48 on October 2 and 3.


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