Grant awarded to UAB alumnus to continue research on Pacific leatherback sea turtle

A Pew Charitable Trusts Fellowship will allow a Ph.D. graduate to continue work to save endangered sea turtles.

pew fellowship streamUAB alumnus, Ricardo Tapilatu, focuses his research on saving Pacific leatherback sea turtles.Ricardo Tapilatu, a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Arts and Sciences, was one of eight marine conservationists chosen worldwide by the Pew Charitable Trusts to receive a 2018 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation. 

His conservation efforts are centered in his native country of Indonesia and are focused on saving the critically endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle, which can migrate thousands of miles to feed off the Pacific coast of the United States.

Tapilatu completed his Ph.D. in 2014 in UAB’s Department of Biology while developing a conservation plan for the most important nesting beaches for the leatherback in the western Pacific Ocean. Tapilatu has continued his collaborations with UAB Department of Biology in order to transfer the latest technology to sea turtle conservation in Indonesia and implement his plan. This collaboration recently led to a National Geographic grant for Amy Bonka, a Ph.D. graduate student in the Department of Biology.

The Pew Fellowship includes a $150,000 grant that will greatly enhance Tapilatu’s ability to save the critically endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle.