WAMSI coral researcher a Student Scientist of the Year finalist

Marine scientist Josh Bonesso said he was honoured to be a ‘Student Scientist of the Year’ finalist in the Premier’s Science Awards and hoped it shone a light on the impact of climate change on coral reefs.

Josh is a PhD student at The University of Western Australia’s Oceans Institute and works part time at the Western Australian Marine Science Institution. The Premier’s Science Awards winners were announced at a ceremony in Perth on 11 September.

Josh was named as a finalist for his work developing ways to rapidly assess the sensitivity of coral islands to climate change.

“I hope being a finalist helps draw attention to the impacts of climate change and the vulnerability of the world’s coral reefs and their islands,” Josh said.

“Coral reef-islands are the landform most threatened by the effects of climate change such as rising sea levels and ocean warming,” Josh said. “But much of our knowledge of changes to these islands has come from two-dimensional satellite images. My research, using three-dimensional mapping technology, captured the largest regional-scale group of islands globally, here in WA’s Pilbara.”

“This led me to develop a unique tool to rapidly assess changes to key features which could act as a crucial warning of imminent threats to the islands.”

He said he was thrilled for the winner, medical researcher Denby Evans, from Telethon Kids Institute and Curtin University.

The awards recognise remarkable achievement and innovation of scientists and science students in the state.

WAMSI CEO Dr Luke Twomey said Josh was an innovative scientist with a passion for educating and inspiring people about marine science and he congratulated him on being an award finalist.

“Josh’s research, which has now been published in a leading scientific journal, has broad ranging benefits worldwide,” Dr Twomey said.

“Josh’s ability to think laterally has established opportunities to lead and collaborate across government and scientific institutions to better safeguard WA’s marine assets.”

“Josh has been a regular speaker with WAMSI’s Thinking Blue outreach program and is always happy to share his knowledge about coral reefs and islands. He does terrific work communicating marine science within the community.”