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Dr Timothy Lamont receiving the John C. Marsden Medal

Exeter doctoral student wins prestigious medal for "extraordinary" research

A prestigious medal for the UK’s best PhD thesis in biology has been awarded to Dr Timothy Lamont, for his PhD work at the University of Exeter.

A marine biologist specialising in coral reef ecology, Dr Lamont received the John C. Marsden Medal, awarded to ‘extraordinary people’ judged to be blazing a trail in science.

The medal was presented in a ceremony at the Linnean Society of London, the world’s oldest society devoted to natural history.

Dr Lamont carried out his PhD research in Australia and Indonesia, working with a team of researchers from the University of Exeter and around the world. Their research revealed the important role that underwater sound plays in supporting the health of coral reefs. They demonstrated that coral reefs become eerily quiet when they degrade and their animals die, but also that playing the sounds of a healthy coral reef can attract fish back to degraded areas, helping to revitalise the ecosystem.

These findings have given rise to new methods for coral reef restoration, which are now being trialled at scale in restoration projects around the world.

Dr Lamont, now an 1851 Royal Commission Research Fellow at the University of Lancaster, said: “It’s an honour to receive the John C. Marsden Medal for this research.

“This work was a real team effort, and I’m very thankful to my colleagues at the University of Exeter and all over the world. We hope that our work has contributed to a clearer understanding of the way that coral reef ecosystems work, which in turn can provide new solutions for their restoration.”

Dr Sandra Knapp, President of the Linnean Society, said: “The Linnean Society’s awards and medals celebrate natural historians from inside and outside academia for their accomplishments in improving our understanding of the natural world. These extraordinary people have shown, across many branches of natural history, how in-depth study and practice can not only increase knowledge but can address some of our world’s pressing environmental problems.

“Emerging from the pandemic, we have seen how much nature means to our own health, both mental and physical. Understanding, valuing and protecting the natural world is integral to the health of both the planet and ourselves. Our winners have all shown inspirational ways forward.”

Date: 30 May 2022

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