Dr. Mark E. Hay was one of six scientists awarded the 2015 Lowell Thomas award by the Explorers Club. The Explorers Club is an American-based international multidisciplinary professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research. The club was founded in New York City, and has served as a meeting point for explorers and scientists worldwide, all of whom are united in the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore.
An experimental field ecologist, Dr. Hay is revolutionizing coral reef conservation and management. Dr. Hay’s research involves learning to cure environmental collapse by discovering, translating, and understanding chemical communication among marine species, thus creating the foundations of the field of marine chemical ecology.
Dr. Hay is a world leader in coral reef ecology, a founder of the field of marine chemical ecology, and he has made fundamental scientific discoveries that created new procedures for effective conservation and management of the world's coral reefs. Mark is an experimental field ecologist who has spent much or the past four decades leading scientific expeditions to remote tropical regions for investigations of coral reefs. He has conducted 5,000+ SCUBA dives, four saturation missions where team members lived underwater for ten days each mission (using Hydrolab and Aquarius), and for the past decade, he has invested 3-6 months per year living with villagers in Fiji and conducting research to better understand, protect, and restore tropical coral reefs.
Dr. Hay 's research innovation comes from discovering how to "listen-in" to the chemical communication among species in ways that are novel, powerful, and provide unique insights into ecological and evolutionary processes that allow fundamentally new and effective approaches to marine conservation. Much like understanding how biochemistry allows biomedical researchers to cure disease, Mark is learning to cure environmental collapse by discovering, translating, and understanding chemical communication among marine species (chemical ecology). Most marine organisms do not have eyes or ears and so they use chemical cues to decide whether to eat, mate with, or run from the things next to them. Mark is discovering and translating this chemical "language of life" in marine systems. His discoveries constitute a previously unknown "instruction manual" for how nature works, and for new approaches to restore its critical processes.