American Oceanographer Sallie Watson is awarded Catalonia’s Ramon Margalef Prize in Ecology

The Catalan Government’s Ramon Margalef Prize was awarded to American oceanographer Sallie Watson for her research on marine biology. The President of the Catalan Executive, Artur Mas, praised the scientist for her discoveries, stating Watson was “the “most productive, charismatic and active searcher in the field of biologic oceanography and marine ecology”. Mas also underlined Catalonia’s growing influence on the international scientific stage, by stating that even though “it was a small country” Catalonia had transformed into an “international scientific centre of high calibre”.

Sally Watson receiving the Ramon Margalef Prize from the President of the Catalan Government (by L. Roma)
Sally Watson receiving the Ramon Margalef Prize from the President of the Catalan Government (by L. Roma) / ACN


October 22, 2013 09:31 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- American oceanographer Sallie Watson received the Ramon Margalef Prize in Ecology from the hands of President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas. This is the second most prestigious international prize bestowed by the Catalan Executive, after the Premi Internacional Catalunya. Mas described Watson as one of the “most productive, charismatic and active searcher in the field of biologic oceanography and marine ecology”. The €80,000 euro prize is awarded annually to internationally renowned ecologists. Furthermore, Mas explained that for the very first time in the scientific sphere, Catalonia was not only able to “create” highly skilled individuals but was able to build a broader scientific base that would actively contribute to international scientific production. Mas highlighted that Catalonia, despite it only accounts for 0.1% of the world population it produces 1% of the entire scientific production.

Sallie Watson is currently working for the Department of Biology and Civil Engineering at the Massachussets Institute of technology (MIT). She is also working in close collaboration with the Department of Biology of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. As the jury pointed it out, Sallie Watson Chisholm “has written a fundamental piece in uncovering and understanding the mechanisms of dominant photosynthetic organisms in the ocean, and her efforts in this matter have culminated in a new and revolutionary way of studying microbiology of the oceans”, adding that “her work will enable the scientific community to have a better understanding of the ocean.”

To be more specific, Watson has been instrumental in demonstrating the negative effects of ocean fertilization through the addition of iron, a method that removes the carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. She defended the theory that such a method could significantly alter the marine cartography and biochemical cycles.

Throughout her career, Watson had already received numerous prizes, notably the National Medal of Science of the United States, which she received from the hands of President Obama himself earlier this year.

During the prize ceremony, which took place on Monday evening in Barcelona, the President of the Catalan Government highlighted the role played by Catalonia on the international scientific stage. Indeed, he explained that “Catalonia was a small country” which represented 0, 1 % of the world population but developed 1% of international scientific production. Furthermore, he highlighted the idea that for the very first time, not only did Catalonia “create” individuals who could excel in the scientific world, but it was also able to build “a broader scientific base”. According to him, Catalonia has the ability to be a model in this respect and to become “an international scientific centre of high calibre”.

Furthermore, the Catalan President noted that it was the first time the prize was awarded to a woman and he expressed his desire that “it would create a precedent as traditionally in the scientific world, there had been no recognition of equivalence”. Mas also reaffirmed the Government’s intention to fight against the climatic change. In this regard, he stated that the Catalan Executive was currently working on the approval of a new bill about environmental protection and that it would “transform Catalonia into a model in this respect”.

Artur Mas underlined Watson’s skills to spread information in an easy-to-understand way. He mentioned the two books she had written for a non-scientific audience, with the objective to divulge and share fundamental scientific knowledge with the whole of society. To conclude, Mas referred to the scientific Ramon Margalef, who was “one of the most consistent and well-known figures” in the field of ecology in the last decades.

The Ramon Margalef Prize in Ecology was created in 2004 by the Catalan Government in order to distinguish environmental scientists from all parts of the world who had excelled in their field of study. The award was named after Professor Ramon Margalef (1919-2004), who carried out intellectual and scientific work in the field of Modern Ecology, to the point of being recognized as one of the world’s leading figures in this field. In addition, the Ramon Margalef Prize is the first international award exclusively dedicated to Biology.