Rebecca Albright, a postdoc in the Caldeira lab at Global Ecology since 2014, is the latest recipient of the newly formed Carnegie Postdoctoral Innovation and Excellence (PIE) Awards. She has been working on ocean acidification, specifically the effects of ocean acidification on corals and coral reef systems. To this end, the lab had been trying to succeed with an experiment to add alkalinity to seawater flowing over a natural coral reef to buffer acidification for the past five years.
Rebecca was the scientific leader of the third attempt at the experiment. It was the first one to succeed, in no small part due to Rebecca’s leadership. A paper describing the experiment, with Rebecca as first author, was published in Nature. The accompanying news story “Landmark experiment confirms ocean acidification’s toll on Great Barrier Reef” features this work.
Rebecca also recently led a successful proposal for the first Carnegie’s Venture Grant competition, which links different Carnegie researchers from different disciplines to address a common problem. This successful proposal, with a $100,000 grant, links the Asner’s lab airborne sensing of corals with in situ observations provided by Rebecca and Ken Caldeira to better understand coral bleaching. This fall Rebecca will lead a group to perform the first CO2 addition experiment, again in a natural, unconfined coral ecosystem in the Great Barrier Reef.
Postdoctoral Innovation and Excellence (PIE) Awards are made through nominations from the department directors. The recipient is chosen by the Office of the President. Under the program, one postdoc is honored every quarter for their extraordinary accomplishments. The award recipient is given a prize of $1000, and is the guest of honor at a departmental gathering where all postdocs can enjoy some celebratory pies.
Department director Chris Field said, "Success in science has a lot to do with having the confidence and persistence to shake things up and to make a real commitment to a good idea. Rebecca has a gift for both the good ideas and the willingness to shake things up."
Carnegie President Matt Scott remarked, “Rebecca has the vigorous spirit of adventure, intense curiosity and imagination, and the passionate leadership and drive that we look for in Carnegie researchers. She fits the bill in all categories and is very deserving of this award. Join me in congratulating her.”
In addition to her research, Rebecca is dedicated to informing the public about these important marine issues, through interviews with the popular media and directly through public engagement. She is also very involved in mentoring others. Prior to Carnegie she was a fellow at the Australian Institute of Marine Science. She received her Ph. D. from the University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and her B.S. from Duke University.