Coral Reef Research Collection wins $100,000 International Science Prize

Catherine Head, University of Oxford / Zoological Society of London ©Bertarelli Foundation

A team of scientific editors has been awarded US $100,000 by Swiss open-access publisher Frontiers in recognition of an outstanding special issue research collection on coral reef science and conservation. Coral reefs are home to around 25% of all marine species and support the way of life of countless communities around the world.

“Millions of people are dependent on coral reefs for nutrition, livelihoods and coastal defence. It is essential we better manage these unique habitats before we lose their crucial ecosystem services, upon which so many depend. We have reached a major tipping point for the future of our coral reefs and we urgently need to apply creative and innovative solutions to save them,” commented topic editor, David Curnick, research associate at ZSL’s (Zoological Society of London) Institute of Zoology.

The Frontiers Spotlight Award recognizes the most innovative and impactful research published over the past year, with the winning editors receiving $100,000 to organize an international scientific conference on the theme of their successful collection.

‘Coral Reefs in the Anthropocene’, comprising of 20 articles from more than 100 contributing authors, is freely available online and has attracted more than 460,000 views to date. The carefully curated collection of research articles exposes the damage caused by overfishing, pollution, and climate change, and helps to inform coral reef restoration efforts.

Fred Fenter, executive editor at Frontiers, said: “The success of ‘Coral Reefs in the Anthropocene’ shows how Open Science can tackle real-world problems. This Research Topic format brings expert teams together around a critical theme of research and amplifies the impact and reach of this work by opening knowledge to all of society. Congratulations to the winners and runners up.”

Despite facing fierce competition from nine other finalists, including research on cannabinoid therapeutics, cancer plasticity and emerging viruses, ‘Coral Reefs in the Anthropocene’ was judged the most active, collaborative and impactful collection.

Dominic Andradi-Brown, Senior Marine Scientist at the World Wildlife Fund, said: “Global pressures like climate change and local pressures, like destructive fishing, overfishing, and pollution, are impacting coral reefs worldwide. Our collection of articles includes studies on the reefs that may survive the worst climate change impacts. The collection will directly inform coral reef conservation efforts and educational campaigns around coral reefs.”

‘Coral Reefs in the Anthropocene’ is based on the cutting-edge research presented at the European Coral Reef Symposium 2017, organized by Reef Conservation UK. The Research Topic has drawn support from Greenpeace and the confidence of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The research prize money will be used to organize a conference —planned for next year — that focuses on coral reef conservation and the science of coral reef management, bringing together the world’s leading reef scientists and managers.

Supporting Emerging Research

Every year, 10 outstanding Research Topics are selected as finalists of the Frontiers Spotlight Award. These shortlisted article collections each address a globally important field of research with the potential to drastically impact our future. They bring together the latest, cutting-edge research to advance their fields, present new solutions and foster essential, large-scale collaborations across multiple disciplines and research groups worldwide.

This year, the Spotlight Award attracted entries from more than 700 eligible open-access Research Topics from across Frontiers’ full editorial program: life sciences, health, physical sciences and engineering, humanities and social sciences, and sustainability.


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David Curnick in Saudia Arabia © Zoological Society of London

David Curnick © Zoological Society of London

**Notes to Editors:**

For more information on the Frontiers Spotlight Award, including details about all of this year’s finalists, please visit:

Reference for statistic ‘25% of all marine species’, see:

Coral Reefs in the Anthropocene’ is a Research Topic published by Frontiers. The topic editors and winners of this year’s award are:

  • Michael Sweet, University of Derby

  • Dominic Andradi-Brown, World Wildlife Fund-US

  • Christan Voolstra, Universität Konstanz

  • Catherine Head, University of Oxford / Zoological Society of London

  • David Curnick, Zoological Society of London

  • Thomas Frazer, University of Florida

  • Anastazia Banaszak, National Autonomous University of Mexico


Frontiers is an award-winning Open Science platform and leading open-access scholarly publisher. Our mission is to make high-quality, peer-reviewed research articles rapidly and freely available to everybody in the world, thereby accelerating scientific and technological innovation, societal progress and economic growth. Frontiers received the 2014 ALPSP Gold Award for Innovation in Publishing. For more information, visit

About ZSL

ZSL (Zoological Society of London) is an international conservation charity working to create a world where wildlife thrives. From investigating the health threats facing animals to helping people and wildlife live alongside each other, ZSL is committed to bringing wildlife back from the brink of extinction. Our work is realised through our ground-breaking science, our field conservation around the world and engaging millions of people through our two zoos, ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. For more information, visit

About World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

WWF is one of the world's leading conservation organizations, working in 100 countries for over half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit to learn more and follow our news conversations on Twitter @WWFNews.