The Society for Freshwater Science has awarded postdoctoral scholar in the Global Water Center Aaron Koning with the Hynes Award for New Investigators. The award is one of just two Career Awards the society granted this year.
“Our Career Awards recognize the best among us for their contributions to freshwater research and environmental policy,” Steve Thomas, president of the Society, said. “The work of our recipients advances freshwater science and lead to actions that improve environmental justice across the globe.”
The Hynes Award for New Investigators is awarded to a freshwater scientist who was senior author of an outstanding primary publication that appeared in print in the last three years. The recipient must have received a terminal post-graduate degree within the last five years and cannot currently be enrolled in a degree program. Koning is a postdoctoral research fellow working on the Wonders of the Mekong Project based in the Global Water Center and Department of Biology. Koning is also a National Geographic Young Explorer. He is a freshwater conservation ecologist interested in understanding the impacts of harvest on aquatic animal communities and ecosystem function, and how conservation interventions can improve outcomes that sustain aquatic diversity and human needs.
“Dr. Koning’s efforts are key to providing a sciences-based path forward for protecting freshwater ecosystems and their biodiversity," Sudeep Chandra, director of the Global Water Center, said. "His efforts highlight the importance of communities and people in protecting fresh waters. We are able to take lessons, learned from his experiences, and apply them to our Wonders of the Mekong cooperative project with USAID and the University’s Global Water Center.”
During his research as a Ph.D. student at University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Limnology and as a Cornell Atkinson Sustainability Postdoctoral Fellow, Koning had the privilege of living with and learning from ethnic Karen (P’gan’yaw) communities in northern Thailand. He focused on the ecological effects of both intensive subsistence fisheries and freshwater reserve protection by these communities. The research presented in the Hynes-award winning publication (“A network of grassroots reserves protects tropical river fish diversity” published in Nature, 2020) translates into the language of conservation scientists what these communities have recognized over the past three decades—that small reserves can have profound effects on entire riverine ecosystems. Koning continues to seek effective models of place-based protection for fish and fisheries around the world, with an emphasis on Southeast Asia.
The recognition of Koning’s impact is reflective of the high-impact global research mission of the University and the Department of Biology.
“The department is thrilled to be celebrating this exciting accolade with Dr. Koning,” Alexander van der Linden, Chair of the Department of Biology, said. “His work and this recognition further solidify the University’s place in the areas of global water ecosystems research and conservation. We look forward to him joining the Department of Biology next year.”