Dr Rick Stuart-Smith

University of Tasmania
Research Field: Marine Biodiversity
Tasmanian Young Tall Poppy of the Year

Dr Rick Stuart-Smith investigates how humans are affecting marine life. His research includes identifying the impacts of pollution near major cities and understanding changes in fish communities where fishing is prohibited. One of his overarching goals is to report changes in marine life to not only managers, but also online to the Australian public. This will allow people to make more informed decisions when it comes to things like voting on matters that affect the marine environment, and help reduce public misinformation on marine issues.

In 2007 Rick co-founded the highly successful Reef Life Survey (RLS) program. RLS is a community-based marine monitoring and conservation program. Rick has personally organised and led the training of over 160 volunteer divers in scientific survey methods, which has since generated over 4000 reef surveys in more than 30 countries.

The RLS dataset now represents one of the most valuable standardised marine biodiversity data sets in the world. Using data he has collected on sub-tidal marine biodiversity and those generated through the RLS program, Rick has been able to assess how patterns in marine biodiversity relate to major human impacts.