Global Challenger

NREM prof receives Pew fellowship to advance ocean conservation

  • 8 April 2021
  • Author: Mark Berthold
  • Number of views: 2675
Global Challenger

The Pew Charitable Trusts have announced nine distinguished conservation researchers from around the world to receive a fellowship in marine conservation – and one of them is Kirsten Oleson of the Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Management.

From studying the ecological and socioeconomic benefits provided by coastal habitats to improving shark conservation and coral reef restoration practices, the new fellows will undertake a broad range of projects to deepen our knowledge of the ocean and advance the sustainable use of marine resources.  

For her part in this global endeavor, Kirsten will use natural capital accounting to evaluate the contributions of coastal ecosystems to the Hawaiian economy and inform decision-making about and management of marine resources. She will receive $150,000 over three years to address some of the most critical challenges facing the marine environment.

“We, as a society, have ignored the natural foundations that support our lives and our economies, and that make us resilient to climate change,” says Kirsten. “Our island ecosystems are degrading, in part because we see the environment as infinite and ʻfree’ – but this perspective rests on an incomplete and inaccurate accounting of our natural wealth.”

She adds, “My project will build natural capital accounts – similar to economic accounts – that highlight the benefits to society from natural processes. The hope is to catalyze transformative change in public policy and decision-making. I’m really looking forward to working with state partners at DAR and DBEDT in this effort.”


The Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation supports mid-career scientists and other experts seeking solutions to problems affecting the world’s oceans.

Read more about Kirsten’s role.

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