The Beacon

Ocean Hero Finalists: Bonnie Lei

Bonnie Lei collecting specimens. (Image courtesy Bonnie Lei.)

This is the tenth in a series of posts about the 2010 Ocean Hero finalists.

Today’s featured finalist already has an impressive resume, and she’s still in high school.

For the past three years, high school junior Bonnie Lei has been conducting independent research on the population structure and evolutionary history of sea slugs to create a better understanding of biodiversity conservation in the Caribbean.

She has reclassified the tropical Spurilla genus, identified a possible new species, and she even presented her research at the international American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) annual meetings in 2009 and 2010.

“With the escalating loss of marine species comes the loss of stability and productivity in entire ecosystems,” she wrote in an essay for us. “It will be impossible to protect these species unless a lucid picture of the distribution, genetic differences, and uniqueness of the populations today is provided.” 

The eloquent Ms. Lei was also awarded a fellowship with Earthwatch Institute to conduct field research. Last summer she traveled to the Brazilian Pantanal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where she aimed to determine how humans have impacted endangered otters and tropical bats.  

Bonnie’s accomplishments stem from a lifelong passion for the oceans. “I fell in love with nature as an eager youngster jumping from crevice to crevice in the tide pools, getting my toes tickled by sensitive sea anemones and having hermit crabs scuttle over my palms.” 

“My experiences have given me an undying love for research, which I have continued to pursue since then,” she said.

I don't know about you, but these inspiring Junior finalist stories have been a welcome daily break from the oil spill gloom. Don’t forget to read about the other Junior and Adult finalists and cast your vote!


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