The Seymour Center at Long Marine Laboratory honored Ocean Conservancy president and UCSC alumnus Andreas Merkl at the Global Oceans Awards Gala on March 8. Merkl was recognized for his organization's work advocating for a healthy ocean by supporting sustainable solutions informed by science.

The Global Oceans Awards were established in 2004 to recognize outstanding individuals who are making a difference for the world's oceans. In addition to Merkl, many of the past honorees were on hand for the 10th anniversary of the annual awards gala organized by the Friends of Long Marine Laboratory as a benefit for the Seymour Marine Discovery Center.

Merkl, who has a background in environmental science, resource economics, and business, is particularly interested in the challenge of how to meet the enormous resource demands of a rapidly growing global population without destroying the natural systems that sustain us. The Ocean Conservancy educates and empowers citizens to take action on behalf of the ocean. The organization guides policy and engages people in protecting the ocean and its wildlife for future generations. Merkl earned a bachelor's degree in environmental studies at UCSC, a master's in regional planning and natural resource analysis at UC Berkeley, and an MBA at Harvard University.

At the March 8 event, the Seymour Center also honored the top two recipients of the Student Research and Education Awards, graduate students Christopher Law and Christie Hegermiller. They received the top scores from among the 16 awardees in the Seymour Center's annual scholarship competition.

Previous recipients of the Global Oceans Award who attended this year's event were former UCSC Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood; photographer and conservationist Frans Lanting; Julie Packard, director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium; Bruce McPherson, former California Secretary of State; Richard Harris, science correspondent for National Public Radio; Marcia McNutt,  editor-in-chief of the Science; and Brent Constantz, CEO of DeepWater Desal. Unable to attend were Leon Panetta, chair of the Pew Oceans Commission (and former CIA director and Secretary of Defense); Stephen Palumbi, director of Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station; and NOAA administrator Kathryn Sullivan.

Global Oceans Award winners Global Oceans Award winners at the 10th anniversary event. Back row, left to right: Julie Packard, Richard Harris, Andreas Merkl, Brent Constantz; front row, left to right: Frans Lanting, M.R.C. Greenwood, Marcia McNutt, Bruce McPherson. (Photo by Rachel Leonard)