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Scientific Diving Lifetime Achievement Award

The 2013 Scientific Diving Lifetime Achievement Award has been bestowed upon Dr. Alina Szmant, University of North Carolina at Wilmington.This award is presented annually to an individual from the scientific diving community who has made a significant contribution in advancing underwater science and technology.  

Dr. Szmant is among the pioneers in the study of the reproductive ecology and larval biology of Caribbean reef corals.  Her other areas of expertise include the calcification and nutritional physiology of reef corals, ecological interactions central to coral reef function, and nutrient dynamics of coral reef ecosystems. Topics of current emphasis are the larval biology and early life history of reef corals, factors that affect coral recruitment success, and in collaboration with others, the application of genomic tools to the study of coral symbiosis, development and stress reactions.  Her research group is conducting experiments to study the effects of elevated seawater temperature and reduced pH on both larval and adult corals.  She is active in conservation issues regarding coral reefs, particularly with regard to the impact of over-fishing on coral reef ecosystem health.  She was a member of the Scientific Technical Advisory Committee to the Water Quality Plan for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary from 1994 to 2004, and has participated in numerous regional, national and international workshops organized to consider nutrients and other environmental issues affecting coral reef ecosystems.  In addition to research, Alina teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Coral Reef Ecology at UNCW, including study abroad field trips in the Caribbean, and short week-long field trips to give students firsthand experience seeing and working on coral reefs.

Before joining UNCW in 1999, Szmant was at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science where she was on the faculty from 1983 to 1999.  Before that she was on the research faculty at Florida State University and on the staff of the University of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Nuclear Center. She also worked for Raytheon's Environmental Sciences Division, Newport RI, for one year.   

Alina obtained a B.S. in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico in 1966, a M.S. in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1970, and a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island in 1980.  In between degrees she worked for Raytheon's Environmental Services Laboratory in Newport, RI.  She was a member of the first all-female team of aquanauts to live and conduct scientific research in an underwater habitat, during the Tektite II Program in 1970.

Outside interests include a love of classical music, tennis, gardening, photography and travel. Alina has served on the Board of Directors of the Chamber Music Society of Wilmington in 2002, and was Secretary for the 2005-2006 season and Treasurer for the 2008-2009 season.  She is presently on the Board of WHQR, Wilmington's NPR station. Alina is married to Dr. Daniel Baden, an expert in marine toxins and in the oceans and human health.  Their family consists of three daughters, Celina, Andrea and Kaitlin, ages 30 to 20 years old,three Shiba Inu dogs and two cats.

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