Visiting Researcher Wins Environmental Prize

Geir Wing Gabrielsen, a Bren visiting researcher from Norway, has been named winner of the Nansen Award from the Norwegian Science Academy. The honor is bestowed annually on the birthday of Fridtjof Nansen, the Norwegian explorer, scientist, and diplomat who won the 1922 Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nansen Award is given to scientists “who have yielded an outstanding contribution to research and exploration of polar areas within the fields of biology, geography, geophysics, geology or oceanography.”

"This is the first time that the Nansen Award have gone to a person working in the field of ecotoxicology," said Gabrielsen from the Arctic island of Svalbard. "The award therefore recognizes not only the work I have done, but also the field of ecotoxicology.

"Today there is a lot of focus on climate change," he continued. "The environmental problem of man-made chemicals are important and should also have a high priority within both science and management. The finding of new chemicals and the effects of these chemicals on Arctic animals and the people living in the Arctic calls for actions from industry and government agencies."  

Gabrielsen is an associate professor at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), and he leads the research program on ecotoxicology at the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI). His research is focused on how contaminants are distributed in ecosystems and their effects on organisms. He often uses seabirds in his studies, since they are on a high level in the food chain and easily accessible for studies. The research field is of high interest since many of the most harmful environmental contaminants are transported by air and ocean currents into the polar regions.

Gabrielsen has initiated and managed many studies within ecotoxicology since the late 1980s and has played a significant role in creating interdisciplinary and international cooperative efforts to conduct research on the topic. He has a background in physiology, and through his years of cooperative work with toxicologists and ecologists, he has documented several contaminants and their effects, often in combination with other factors as nutritial stress and parasite load.

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Geir Wing Gabrielsen