Professor Steve Simpson's research on underwater acoustics has been recently featured on Blue Planet II and Blue Planet Live

Exeter marine expert awarded prestigious medal for scientific contribution

One of the world’s foremost experts in fish ecology and bioacoustics has been awarded a prestigious prize from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

Steve Simpson, Associate Professor in Marine Biology & Global Change at the University of Exeter, has been bestowed with the 2019 ZSL Scientific Medal, ‘in acknowledgement of his outstanding research’.

The award is given to zoologists with less than 15 years postdoctoral experience, in recognition of scientific merit.

Professor Simpson, who is part of Exeter’s Biosciences department, leads a dynamic group of researchers focussing on two main themes: Bioacoustics and impacts of anthropogenic noise on marine ecosystems; and Effects of warming seas on commercial fisheries.

His research on underwater acoustics has been recently featured on Blue Planet II and Blue Planet Live, and includes understanding communication in fish, exploring marine soundscapes to understand ecosystem heath, and assessing impacts of underwater noise pollution to develop management strategies for maritime industries and conservation.

Steve’s research on climate change and fish ecology has led to new understanding of how European fisheries are changing as seas warm, and is now helping to inform the development of a sustainability accreditation scheme for small-scale fisheries with his partners at Sole of Discretion.Professor Simpson said: “I am delighted that the work of my research group and I has caught the eye of the ZSL panel, and am humbled to join the esteemed list of past winners. This job is a great privilege, both living in two worlds above and below the waves, and also creating new knowledge and supporting the early careers of young scientists.”

Despite working on impacts of global change on marine ecosystems, Steve remains hopeful for the future: “It would be easy to get downhearted as we study coral reefs dying and fisheries declining, but we now know what is needed to tackle climate change, restore fisheries and reduce impacts of noise and other pollutants. Marine ecosystems are wonderfully diverse, and display remarkable resilience in recovering from past impacts. I believe that we, and future generations, still have the gift to restore our oceans to their former glory through coherent management underpinned by scientific understanding.”

Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity whose mission is to promote and achieve the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. 

Professor Simpson will receive his Medal on June 11 at the ZSL Stamford Raffles Lecture.

Date: 2 April 2019

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