Dr Sangeeta Mangubhai, the Wildlife Conservation Society Fiji Program Director, has been awarded the International Society for Reef Studies – World Reef Award.

She was recognised for her outstanding scientific work and conservation achievements, making her the first Pacific Islander to receive this award.

The prestigious award was presented to her during the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium in Honolulu on 22 June 2016.

Sangeeta attributed her passion for conservation and her parents support to her career success.

“I feel so honoured to be receiving this award from such a prestigious organisation, like the International Society for Reef Studies,” she said.

“My father on the other hand is very proud and has told everyone he knows on Facebook and through email about the good news!”

Sangeeta believes there is great need in the Pacific to create awareness on science that matters and doing science that really makes a difference to the people, rather than just being for academic purposes.

“I think in countries like Fiji when it comes to our environment, the emphasis needs to be on practical science that contributes to better decisions on how we both protect and use our natural resources.”

She hopes to inspire young people in the Pacific especially women who want to work in the field of science or conservation to find positive ways to contribute to their communities and to Fiji.

“I think this award will help get the work that we do in Fiji recognised at the international level, and open more doors for collaboration. It demonstrates there is much that the international community can learn about the science we do in Fiji, as well as conservation,” she added.

Sangeeta was highly recommended by three other scientists for this award and was chosen following a strict assessment by the International Society for Reef Studies against other candidates from around the world putting Fiji, a tiny country in the Pacific, in the world’s arena of science and conservation.