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UVic prof receives fellowship for marine conservation protection research

Program sees recipients relieved of teaching duties while devoting time to research
UVic professor and researcher Natalie Ban won a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada fellowship for her dedication to finding real-world solutions for marine issues. (Photo courtesy of the University of Victoria)

Natalie Ban, associate professor of environmental studies at the University of Victoria, received the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship on Nov. 17 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Every year, the council awards up to six Steacie fellowships, and recipients are relieved of teaching and administrative duties so they can devote all their energy to research. The fellowships are offered to faculty at Canadian universities or affiliated research institutions.

Ban plans to study how changing environmental patterns affect marine conservation, leading to the improvement of climate change considerations in planning around marine protected areas.

“On the one hand, there is so little known about the ocean compared to land – we sort of think of it as out of sight, out of mind – but it’s actually very closely entwined with humanity and culture,” said Ban. “Ensuring the protection of biodiversity for all the creatures in the ocean is so important.”

She has previously collaborated on research projects with the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance, which has studied the decline in Dungeness crab and yelloweye rockfish populations along B.C.’s central coast.

The hope is that merging Indigenous knowledge and western science will help address modern fishery problems and inequities in fisheries management, Ban said.

Ban told Black Press Media that she is honoured to have received this award, but wanted to highlight that her work and research is a team effort. “Collaborations with post-doctoral researchers, Indigenous communities and other coastal communities, and the trust they put in me just means so much.”

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