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University of California Santa Barbara
Academic Senate Awards

2018-19 Recipients

Harold J. Plous Award

Douglas J. McCauley - Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology

We are very pleased to announce that Douglas McCauley has been selected for the 2018-2019 Harold J. Plous Memorial Award. Since arriving at UCSB in 2014, Professor McCauley of the Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology Department, has published or has in press over 40 publications with nine of them appearing in Science and Nature. He has been funded by numerous granting agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF) and The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC). In addition, Professor McCauley has received the meritorious Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship, one of the most sought-after fellowships available to early-career scholars.

Professor McCauley’s research also has wide interdisciplinary and general audience appeal. He has given talks at numerous academic institutions and private foundations and was invited twice to speak in Davos at the World Economic Forum. He has presented at Secretary of State John Kerry’s Ocean conference in Washington DC and to the US Senate, the Executive Office of the President, the House Ocean Caucus, the Congressional Research Service, the US Department of State and the US Department of Treasury. In fact, his research on marine biodiversity is the subject of a new museum exhibit at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, a venue that receives over one million visitors annually.

In January 2015, Professor McCauley published a paper in Science, entitled “Marine Defaunation: Animal Loss in the Global Ocean.” In that paper, Professor McCauley and his coauthors described the loss of species in the oceans and proposed possible solutions. The paper was highly cited in media around the world. The paper became the most read paper published in Science that year. As a result of his work, Marc and Lynne Benioff gifted $10.24 million to UCSB to form the Benioff Ocean Initiative (BOI). Led by Professor McCauley, the BOI crowdsources ideas about identifying and solving problems in the world’s oceans. The BOI has funded a project to study the effect of noise on whale migration in the Santa Barbara Channel.

Professor McCauley also excels at teaching. One comment is representative of those offered by his students: “This class changed the way I think about conservation. . . . It was extremely valuable.” Intrigued by his enthusiasm and the content of his classes, 53 undergraduate students have volunteered to join him in his research. To date, Professor McCauley has 15 publications authored, or co-authored, by undergraduate student mentees.

In light of his contributions to the intellectual life of the UCSB community through his exceptional achievement in research, teaching and service, we are delighted to present the 2018-2019 Harold J. Plous Memorial Award to Professor Douglas McCauley.