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Date [ 2014-06-02, 05:08 ]

Marine scientist is rewarded for her conservation work.

Dr Ponnampalam receives her award from PM Najib.

(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress)  Nancy Joseph = University of Malaya research fellow, Dr. Louisa Ponnampalam, is the first Malaysian to win the prestigious 2014 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation. It aims to provide outstanding individuals the opportunity to make a difference for marine conservation. This achievement, along with her other efforts earned her this year’s National Youth Premier Award – Special Category.

A research fellow at the Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences, University of Malaya, Dr Ponnampalam is a marine biologist specializing in dolphin, whale and dugong ecology and conservation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Marine Science from the University of Hawai'i at Hilo, and a PhD from the University of London's University Marine Biological Station Millport in Scotland. Her research career on these charismatic marine mammals spans 10 years across various seas, including the Arabian, Red, Bering Seas, Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea.

In Malaysia, Dr Ponnampalam heads dolphin ecological research projects in Langkawi and Matang, while overseeing dugong research and conservation efforts in the Johor east coast islands. She is one of the founding members of the National Marine Mammal Stranding Network and has contributed content to various national policy documents concerning Malaysia’s marine biodiversity and environment. These include the National Oceans Policy, Dugong National Plan of Action, and Country Reports to the Convention on Biological Diversity. One of her career goals is to raise the profile of marine mammals and their scientific research in Malaysia, and build local research and conservation capacity as well as awareness for these animals and their fragile marine environment.

Dr Ponnampalam currently serves as a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission’s Cetacean and Sirenia Specialist groups. In 2012, she co-founded the MareCet Research Organization, a local NGO dedicated to the study and conservation of marine mammals in Malaysia and the larger Southeast Asian region. She was appointed an Honorary Research Fellow at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak from 2012-2015, and is the current Vice-Chair of the International Consortium for Marine Conservation.
As a result of this and other achievements, Dr Ponnampalam was handpicked by the Minister ofYouth and Sports, YB En. Khairy Jamaluddin, to receive this year's National Youth Premier Award (Special Category). The award was presented to her in Putrajaya recently by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, in conjunction with National Youth Day celebrations held on May 25, 2014.

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