Michael E. Field is the recipient of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) 2013 Outstanding Scientific Advancement of Knowledge award.
Michael E. Field Honored by U.S. Coral Reef Task Force
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) emeritus geologist Michael E. Field received the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) 2013 Outstanding Scientific Advancement of Knowledge award for his “outstanding leadership in developing the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program’s Pacific Coral Reef Project…to better understand the influences of natural processes and impacts of human activities on coral reef health.”
Presented November 15, 2013, at a USCRTF meeting in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the award commends Field and his team for continuing “to provide the foundational science helping to preserve and protect the biodiversity, health, and social and economic value of coral reef ecosystems.” The USCRTF, established in 1998 by former President Clinton, includes leaders of 12 Federal agencies, 7 U.S. States, Territories, Commonwealths, and 3 Freely Associated States.
The award justification details some of Field’s many accomplishments in coral reef studies:
“In 1999, following the International Year of the Reef, Dr. Michael E. Field started the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Coastal and Marine Geology Program’s Coral Reef Project to better understand the geologic and oceanographic controls on the structure and processes of our Nation’s coral reef ecosystems. Focusing its efforts to better understand the influences of natural processes and impacts of human activities on coral reef health, the Pacific Coral Reef Project has made large advances in understanding the impacts of land-based pollution—primarily terrestrial sediment run-off from high islands—on coral reef ecosystem health and sustainability.
“Since its inception, the USGS Pacific Coral Reef Project has published 65 scientific journal articles and 63 official government reports, and disseminated its scientific findings through 155 conference presentations and 63 invited talks to Federal, State, and local agencies on high-resolution mapping techniques; coastal circulation and sediment, nutrient, larval, and contaminant dynamics; records of climate and land-use change; and numerical models of present and future physical processes affecting coral reef health.
“Dr. Field brought together experts in remote sensing, geomorphology, vegetation and land-use, hydrology, coral reef ecology, and coastal circulation and sediment dynamics in the first comprehensive effort to understand how impaired watersheds impact coral reef ecosystems through the USGS ‘Ridge-to-Reef’ effort in 2003. In recognition of these achievements, the USGS presented the 2006 Western Region Innovation in Integrated Science Award to the Ridge-to-Reef team for their multidisciplinary work in the Hawaiian Islands. The USGS publication, “The Coral Reef of South Moloka‘i, Hawai‘i—Portrait of a Sediment-Threatened Fringing Reef” (USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5101), synthesizing USGS Pacific Coral Reef Project and USGS Ridge-to-Reef studies, was honored with numerous awards. The report won the Association of Earth Science Editors 2009 Outstanding Publication Award and a 2009 National Association of Government Communicators Blue Pencil Award of Excellence.
“This research inspired a multimillion-dollar American Recovery and Reinvestment Act proposal and resulted in The Encyclopedia of Modern Coral Reefs (2011) stating, ‘Recent research on the fringing reef of Moloka‘i, Hawai‘i, by the USGS has set the bar for sediment research in coral environments.’ Results from these comprehensive studies also triggered the Hawai‘i State Senate and Hawai‘i House of Representatives to issue Concurrent Resolution #2009-0916 SCR SMA-1: ‘Expressing support for the USGS Report, The Coral Reef of South Moloka‘i, Hawai‘i: Portrait of a Sediment-Threatened Fringing Reef, encouraging federal, state, and community cooperation to steward the South Moloka‘i reef. Be it further resolved that state agencies and federal agencies are encouraged to recognize and support the conclusions of the USGS report.’
“In addition to his scientific leadership in the USGS, Dr. Field provided scientific guidance and direction on land-based pollution impacts on coral reefs as a member of U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Department of State review panels. His and his team’s efforts continue to provide the foundational science helping to preserve and protect the biodiversity, health, and social and economic value of the United States’ coral reef ecosystems.”