Heather J. Lynch, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the first Endowed Chair for Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University’s Institute for Advanced Computational Science (IACS), has been named by The Pew Charitable Trusts as a recipient of the 2022 Pew fellowship in marine conservation.
Lynch is one of six international researchers awarded the fellowship this year. Each recipient will receive $150,000 over three years to conduct their research related to marine conservation. Previous Stony Brook University faculty named Pew fellows in marine conservation are Carl Safina and Ellen Pikitch of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS).
The Pew Charitable Trusts supports extensive work and research in ocean conservation. Lynch joins Pew’s global community of nearly 200 marine fellows from 41 countries all working to expand knowledge of the ocean and advance the sustainable use of marine resources.
Lynch’s work centers on studying species health in Antarctic penguins and forecast risks to Antarctica’s penguin populations. She has received international recognition for this work with colleagues around the world. At Stony Brook, the Lynch Lab, uses quantitative ecology to address pressing issues and questions related to wildlife in Antarctica in the face of climate change and human activity.
“Everyone wants to protect Antarctica’s wildlife for the next generation, but there are no easy answers when it comes to what should be protected and why,” says Lynch. “Even for Antarctica’s most charismatic species – its iconic penguins – we don’t know which breeding locations we should be tracking most closely.”
Her project related to the Pew fellowship will build on recent advances in penguin monitoring. She says the idea is to step back and take a “portfolio” approach to penguin conservation using tools most commonly used for assessing financial risks.
Lynch will focus on identifying patterns of health among king and macaroni penguins in Antarctica. Lynch’s findings will augment an existing database that informs krill fishing near penguin populations in Antarctica. Her research will also be used to develop a penguin-focused version of the Living Planet Index, a tool that enables users to track trends in vertebrate abundance around the globe, to better inform conservation efforts.
Lynch holds a doctorate in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University. She holds a master’s in physics from Harvard University and a bachelor of arts in physics from Princeton University.
For 26 years, the Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation has supported mid-career scientists and other experts seeking solutions to challenges affecting the world’s oceans. Fellows are selected by an international committee of marine science experts with a range of expertise following a rigorous nomination and review process.