Image: Abram Powell © Australian Museum

At the Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation 50th Anniversary dinner, Dr Anne Hoggett AM and Dr Lyle Vail AM were awarded the 2023 Australian Museum Research Institute Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of their tireless work in advancing our understanding of coral reef biology.

Always a highlight of the year – Wednesday night’s annual Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation (LIRRF) dinner was a particularly special evening. Not only celebrating 50 years of scientific research and discovery undertaken at Lizard Island Research Station (LIRS), but also recognising the life-long contribution of Directors, Anne and Lyle, in developing LIRS into the powerhouse it is today. We were delighted to recognise their legacy with this award.

Established in 2014, the award recognises eminent researchers and science communicators who have made an outstanding contribution to science and biodiversity conservation. Anne and Lyle have been awarded the 2023 award in recognition of their significant, life-long contribution to coral reef science and committed management of the Australian Museum’s Lizard Island Research Station over 33 years. Since 1990, when they became joint Directors, Anne and Lyle have comprehensively redeveloped LIRS and welcomed thousands of researchers, students and fellows, greatly increasing its scientific productivity and impact. Their extensive knowledge of coral reefs, expertise in the systematics and ecology of marine invertebrates, passion for mentoring early career scientists, and their remarkable management, stewardship, and vision have made LIRS what it is today.

Held at the Australian Museum, the evening was a celebration of the inspiring work conducted by the scientists at LIRS, and by what Anne and Lyle have achieved in their 33 years at the station. Joined by four marine scientists – Dr Pat Hutchings, Dr Jeffrey Leis, Dr Alison Green and Professor Andrew Hoey – whose research at LIRS collectively spanned the past five decades, the scientists shared their insights as to how the Station has contributed to our understanding of reef science.

The evening also included a silent auction, raising funds for two important additions to LIRS – a new air-conditioned laboratory, to accommodate up to 8 researchers and their equipment, and additional staff accommodation, to facilitate the growing visitor base (now up to 8000) per year.

Founded in 1973 by former AM Director, Professor Frank Talbot AM, LIRS is widely recognised as one of the world’s best tropical marine field research stations, with research at LIRS covering virtually every aspect of understanding and managing the coral reef marine environment.

Previous recipients of the AMRI Lifetime Achievement Award have included Professor Tim Flannery, Mr Robyn Williams AM, Professor Frank Talbot AM, the 1971 Lord Howe Island Environmental Survey Group, Catherine Livingstone AO, Professor Lesley Hughes, Dr Val Attenbrow, Professor William Sherwin and Mr Brian Sherman AM.

Originally published by Meagan Warwick, AMRI & External Partnerships Coordinator, Australian Museum.

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