Simone Cousteau Research Grant recipient, Megan Conkling


Women Divers Hall of Fame and Scotch & Soda
announce recipient of the Simone Melchior Cousteau $5,000 Research Grant

Megan Conkling is a 2nd year Ph.D. student at Florida Atlantic University. Her research, which is just getting underway, focuses on the sustainability of coral reef ecosystems. Healthy coral reefs provide habitat and shelter for many marine organisms, are a source of essential nutrients for marine food webs, protect coastlines from damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms, contribute to local economies through tourism and jobs, and are an important source of new medicines. However, scientists estimate that 70 to 90% of all coral reefs will be lost by 2040 at current rates. Megan will develop quantitative methods to validate benthic habitat maps; determine if Florida reef sponges can sustain changing environmental conditions related to climate change, and use novel modelling approaches to predict population distributions of corals, sponges, and algae. The results of her research will support efforts by state and federal resource managers to study, manage, expand, and even establish new marine protected areas.

This grant is made possible by a donation from Dutch fashion brand Scotch & Soda, as a tribute to the French sea explorer and WDHOF Member Simone Melchior Cousteau for her numerous achievements in underwater exploration.

Inspired by Simone Melchior Cousteau , the brand’s Summer 2021 collection celebrates the explorer’s love for the oceans through the use of sea life-inspired prints and nods to her South of France coastal upbringing.

By contributing to this grant, the brand supports the WDHOF’s environmental efforts, whilst honoring the life and work of Simone Melchior Cousteau as a driving force that challenged the expectations of her gender and time to become the one of the world’s first female scuba divers and a pioneer of marine conservation.