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2018 Bullitt Environmental Prize Winner Announced. Congratulations to Nicola Smith.

on Tue, Sep 25, 2018 at 11:54 AM

2018 Bullitt Environmental Prize Recognizes Bahamian Marine Biologist

12th Annual Award to PhD Candidate from Simon Fraser University

SEATTLE – The Bullitt Foundation announced today the winner of the 12th Annual Bullitt Environmental Prize, which recognizes people from varied backgrounds who have demonstrated the ability to become powerful environmental leaders. The goal of the program is to help broaden and diversify the leadership of the global environmental movement.

The 2018 Bullitt Prize winner is Nicola Smith, a PhD candidate in marine biology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. Coming from the Bahamas, where turquoise waters teeming with life draw visitors from around the world and account for more than 50 percent of Gross Domestic Product due to tourism, her research focuses on invasive species, coral reef fish ecology, and data-poor tropical fisheries.

“Marine environments face multiple threats, yet 2.6 billion people depend on the ocean for their primary source of protein,” said Denis Hayes, CEO of the Bullitt Foundation and first national organizer of Earth Day in 1970. “Nicola’s research on un-reported fish catches and invasive marine species has implications far beyond her home waters in the Bahamas.”

The Bullitt Environmental Prize is awarded to people who bring new perspectives to environmental work. As the only person of Afro-Caribbean descent in her PhD program and in most other professional settings, Smith has helped organize groups on diversity and inclusion during marine biology events to overcome a sense of isolation and marginalization.

“Fishing is a way of life in the Bahamas and in many places around the world, including nearby coastal communities around the Salish Sea,” said Smith. “These places are heavily dependent on healthy marine environments for their cultural and economic survival,” she added.

Winners of the Bullitt Environmental Prize receive $100,000 over two years to advance their work. The fellowship will allow Smith to pursue post-doctoral research in marine conservation ecology, with a focus on past interactions between humans and marine environments to understand their social, ecological and economic impacts.

Past winners of the Bullitt Environmental Prize include a soil carbon researcher, wildlife conservation leader trying to reduce conflict between wolves and ranchers, veterinarian with a doctorate in public health who studies zoonotic diseases, a researcher focused on climate change adaptation, and an advocate for organic food security.

The 2018 Bullitt Prize is being presented to Smith at an awards banquet in Seattle. Danni Washington, host of “Xploration Nature Knows Best,” will offer the keynote address.