UA Distinguished Researcher Fernando T. Maestre wins Jaume I 2020 Award in Environmental Protection category
Researcher Fernando Tomás Maestre Gil in his office at the University of Alicante
Alicante. Tuesday 20 October 2020
The Rei Jaume I Award 2020, in the Environmental Protection category, has gone to Fernando Tomás Maestre Gil, a Distinguished Researcher at the University of Alicante, for contributing to the emergence of the Dryland Development Paradigm. “A new way to study desertification that influences not only research, but also how politicians from across the world manage and work to address this phenomenon,” according to the jury of the Rei Jaume I Awards 2020.
In Maestre’s words, “I have received this award with immense joy, as it is a significant recognition of the line of research pursued by my group at the UA Dryland Ecology and Global Change Lab.” “Personally, it encourages me to continue this work and contribute to the development of research in Spain. I hope all the knowledge we generate will be useful, not only to understand how dryland ecosystems work, but also to implement management policies that mitigate the negative effects of climate change and other factors driving global change today,” he adds.
Professor Maestre’s research work is concerned with the growing issue of desertification due to global climate change, a problem requiring urgent solutions with regard to environmental protection. His pioneering work has contributed to the emergence of the dryland development paradigm, which has been used in official UN reports to guide decision-making with the aim of fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals in dryland areas worldwide.
Fernando T. Maestre
Professor of Ecology Fernando T. Maestre joined the University of Alicante in 2019 as a Distinguished Researcher within the Valencia Region Government’s GenT Programme, which seeks to attract talented researchers who had previously left the region. He currently directs the Dryland Ecology and Global Change Lab, where he investigates how dryland ecosystems work and their response to environmental change, and is a member of the Ramón Margalef Institute for Environmental Research (IMEM).
Recipient of the University of Alicante’s Special Awards for Second-Cycle Graduates (1999) and PhDs (2005), Maestre also won the Valencia Region Government’s Academic Performance Award (1999). After two years at Duke University (USA, 2003-2005), he started working at the Rey Juan Carlos University, where he is Professor of Ecology (currently on leave). In May 2019, he joined the University of Alicante as a Distinguished Researcher.
Throughout his research career, he has been a visiting researcher at universities and research centres from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and China. He is principal investigator of 16 research projects that, in total, have been awarded more than €5.2 million. No other ecologist working in Spain has received both a Starting (2009) and a Consolidator Grant (2014) from the European Research Council.
Moreover, he has published over 230 articles in international science journals (nine of which have appeared in Science, Nature and PNAS), in addition to six books and many popular science articles. In fact, he has been ranked in the top 1% of the world’s most highly cited researchers since 2018. Maestre has also presented more than 100 papers at scientific conferences and delivered lectures as a guest speaker in 15 countries, as well as having directed 10 PhD theses.
His research merits have earned him awards such as the Academy of Sciences - Pascual Foundation for Life Sciences Award, in the Young Researcher category (Spain’s Royal Academy of Physical, Exact and Natural Sciences, 2013), the Humboldt Research Award (Alexander Von Humboldt Stiftung, 2014), the Miguel Catalán Award for researchers under 40 years of age (Madrid Region, 2014) and the Distinguished Scientists Award (Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2019).