International Antarctic prize for Steven Chown for research on climate change, invasive species

Prof Steven Chown from Stellenbosch University (SU) has been named as the inaugural recipient of the Martha T. Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica, in recognition of his outstanding work on the study of invasive alien species and the effects of climate change and human interactions in the region.

The announcement of the $100 000 (about R750 000) prize was made in Washington DC at a gala function as part of the Antarctic Treaty Summit celebrating fifty years of the Treaty.Prof Steven Chown

The Martha T. Muse Prize (www.museprize.org) is supported by the Tinker Foundation and administered by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), and is awarded to individuals who show clear potential for sustained and significant contributions that enhance our understanding of Antarctic science or policy and promote Antarctica’s preservation for future generations.

Prof Chown, director of the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology and professor in the SU Department of Botany and Zoology, is recognized as a world leader in his field of research.

He plays a significant role in the Antarctic policy arena as the representative of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) at the Antarctic Treaty’s Committee for Environmental Protection.

Prof Chown is Chief Officer of the SCAR Standing Committee on the Antarctic Treaty System. He was the first Chair of the Prince Edward Islands Management Committee which was charged with overseeing the environmental management of these sub-Antarctic islands. He was also the lead author of the revised management plans that were drawn up for the islands, which are proclaimed together as South Africa’s only Special Nature Reserve.

He has major research interests in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic biology and conservation. His leadership in Antarctic conservation provides a framework for managing the expanding human presence in the Antarctic, an issue which will remains in the forefront of Antarctic science and policy.

The scientific advances made by Prof Chown have had broad ranging implications for understanding evolutionary processes and have established a foundation for continuing research by scientists from many member nations in the Antarctic Treaty.

Prof Chown will be awarded the Prize at the Oslo International Polar Year Conference in June 2010 and will also be a guest of honour at the SCAR Open Science conference in Buenos Aires in August 2010.