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ECSA Awards: Previous Award Winners

ECSA Lifetime Achievement Award

James Cook University’s Professor Eric Wolanski has been awarded the first Estuarine & Coastal Sciences Association (ECSA) Lifetime Achievement Award.

Professor Wolanski is an Adjunct Professor in JCU’s School of Marine and Tropical Biology and Principal Research Officer in the Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research.

Professor Wolanski was presented with the award in front of almost 600 scientists from 54 countries at a gala dinner in Mestre, near Venice, during ECSA’s 50th international conference in the Italian city earlier this month.

This is the first time a Lifetime Achievement Award has been granted by ECSA.

The award reflects Professor Wolanski’s achievements in marine science over his lifetime, including seven books, his 12-volume Treatise on Estuarine and Coastal Science, and 350 publications in estuarine and coastal science with co-workers in 13 countries.

Professor Wolanksi said it was a “complete surprise” to receive the award.

“The announcement was made during the dinner of the conference while the President of ECSA was about to make an announcement,” he said.

“I was listening, but not that carefully. We were enjoying drinks and meals and talking amongst colleagues, then the speakers started to talk about estuaries and then reefs. I was a bit confused.

“Then they announced my name. I was so surprised. One of the people on my table said ‘you are red’.”  Professor Wolanski described the accolade as a “wonderful thing”.

“I was really thrilled. I was there in this restaurant in the country surrounded by manicured gardens in a beautiful old converted farmhouse on the outskirts of Venice.

“It was such a beautiful setting, and everyone was cheering for me. Several people were coming up to congratulate me. It was kind of magic.”  Professor Wolanksi said it was particularly humbling that it was the first award since the organisation’s beginnings.

“When I looked at the prominent scientists in that crowd there, I thought ‘I really don’t think I’m that good’ and I know I blushed.”

Professor Wolanksi said he was at the event as an invited plenary lecturer and as the representative of two international scientific societies - Japan's International Centre for Environmental Management of Enclosed Coastal Seas (EMECS) and Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ), of which he is a board member of both.  Earlier this year Professor Wolanski published what is believed to be the world’s most comprehensive work on estuarine and coastal science.

The collection of 12 books - “The Treatise on Estuarine and Coastal Science” – has more than 350 authors from across the world and runs to about 6000 pages

The volumes took about four years to complete. Professor Wolanski also officially launched The Treatise at the conference.