[Coral-List] What can scientists do: ARE YOU READY?

Robert Miller rjmiller1 at gmail.com
Fri Jan 11 16:03:13 EST 2008

Hi List,
Of course we should all be doing more.  However, there's a big problem with
the oncologist reference.  It's money.  The top research oncologists are MD
PhD's typically, and don't work with patients, at least not many.  They work
with genes and tissue.  And they most certainly are concerned with impact
factors.  It is the MDs in the hospital that are the "top oncologists" you
mean, and for the most part, they don't do research (other than to run
studies testing the results of more basic research), they rely on published
results to treat patients.  They actually do read at least some of those
high-impact papers.  They are also backed up by a skilled staff (MDs don't
need to build their own heart monitor, for example, or even know how it
works).  The corresponding person at this point would be a reef manager,
which is a scarce position that is usually paid badly and typically requires
a BS or maybe MS.   Even if a PhD wanted to apply for most of these
positions they would be looked at askance.  We should do more, but we should
also fight for much higher fiscal priority of marine research and
"treatment" at all levels, basic research to management and outreach.  One
person can't do it all, and they don't in oncology either.  The lack of
money in basic ecology and biology should get people fired up, because it
drives many of the problems Sarah is describing.  In the US, at least, this
could be changed: look at NASA for an example.  2007 Ocean Sciences budget:
~300 million.  Nasa: 16.25 billion. OS/Nasa = .02
Bob Miller

On Jan 10, 2008 4:24 PM, shashank Keshavmurthy <iamshanky15 at yahoo.com>

> Hello ListersI agree with Sarah viewpoint....
> >From past couple of weeks I have been enjoying the discussion on this
> list on "What Scientists Can Do?"
> We do research, write papers, always trying to get funding for future
> research (this depends on the number of papers that we publish and their
> impact factors), the same applies when we apply for a job as well...
> The irony is that at the speed in which coral reefs are disappearing, we
> still want some publications to come out of it, we still want to do some
> projects, we still want to get coral samples and do whatever we are
> doing........and we know that the research that we are doing and with all
> those resulting publications, the status of  coral  reefs are not going to
> change (I am aware that there are researchers on the on the other side of
> this aspect, those researchers who are trying to find solutions to save
> corals (transplantation, coral propagation etc.) until and unless the
> results of our research is applied to the field and is made use by
> stakeholders at the grassroots level.
> Let me tell you all a story of a small atoll in West Indian coast of
> Laccadives Island (this was when I used to work there on the research
> project 5 years ago)
> Each atoll is managed by a government body called "Laccadives".....All the
> people working here are locals.  Their work is to take tourists around the
> reef (glass bottom boats, snorkelling and sometimes diving).....
> I particularly want to mention 2 persons here, P. Koya and Shaukat
> Ali....they are not scientists, they have not got any phD degree, they are
> not bothered in publishing any papers...but they were and are more efficient
> than many of us here in looking after the coral reef, making tourists aware
> of the fact that corals are important and how climate change and behaviour
> of people are affecting corals.  The beaches of atoll are plastic free,
> trash free, these two people used to give a small awareness talk to tourists
> before they even started their adventure on the atoll.......
> This is how habitats can be saved, people taking action at grassroots
> level, and we scientists as a knowledge base need to become more and more
> involved with such people, make them aware of new developments and help them
> to manage their own reefs.
> On such Islands, where scientific resources are very less the only way to
> make a difference is by practicing right methods.
> Looking at the nature of work that I was doing then, I was always being
> asked..."How your research will help save the corals and coral reefs?"...by
> those two people....
> That question still haunts me...and I have to admit here that it will just
> help me to get a degree, publish more papers, get a job, then publish more
> papers, write proposals for grants, do more research...and one fine
> day...and I pray that day will never come...I will be left with nothing to
> do my research on!!
> Every one of us should ask the above question to
> ourselves.................
> I am not saying that we all should stop research......that is not the
> solution.....but we all need to give some of our time to work with the
> stakeholders, help them in their job of making themselves and those numerous
> tourists that visit their islands to become aware of the need of better
> practices.
> We need to stop what we are doing now...but need to change the way we look
> at things, incorporate new awareness in ourselves and become involved at
> grassroots level.....
> I hope I can do this....
> I also again emphasize here about the importance of
> aquarists..........before the aquarium business was just means of
> entertaining people, of the colorful reef inhabitants...but now...it is one
> of the solutions to learn methods of coral propagation....
> (I know there are many scientists and researchers here on the list who do
> not care much about publications, their impact factors and etc....and still
> involved in coral reef conservation....and it will be nice if this number
> increases)
> Just a thought from my side...
> Regards
> shashank
> "Role of Infinitely Small in Nature is Infinitely Large" - Louis Pasteur
> ====================================
> Keshavmurthy Shashank
> Research Student, Graduate School of Kuroshio Science
> Laboratory of Environmental Conservation
> Kochi University, Monobe Campus, B 200
> Nankoku, Kochi, 783-8502, Japan
> Mobile: 81 08039253889
> My WebPage: http://web.mac.com/coralresearch/iWeb/shashank/Welcome.html
>  ____________________________________________________________________________________
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Robert J. Miller
Santa Barbara Coastal LTER
Marine Science Institute
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara CA 93106-6150
(805) 893-7295

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