PeerJ spoke to Prof. Angelika Brandt winner of the Carlo Heip Award

PeerJ spoke to Prof. Angelika Brandt about winning the Carlo Heip Award from the International Association for Biological Oceanography. Read about Carlo Heip’s Legacy here. Angelika’s main research focus is systematics, biodiversity, biogeography, evolution and ecology of deep-sea macrofauna, especially Malacostracan Crustacea along the NW Pacific and Polar Regions.

Her work documented high biodiversity of Southern Ocean deep-sea invertebrates. In recent years, her research interest concentrated in the identification of drivers of evolution in the deep sea, such as dispersal barriers, as well as on advancing deep-sea sampling methodologies. She is active in deep-sea research (currently in the Northwest Pacific and Southern Ocean) but also interested in biodiversity of the World Oceans, Senckenberg also has a strong traditional marine focus on the Red and Arabian seas as well as the North Sea and Baltic Sea.

Angelika Brandt has coordinated and led several oceanographic expeditions to Antarctica, notably the series of ANDEEP (ANtarctic benthic DEEP-sea biodiversity) cruises, which have contributed significantly to our understanding of Antarctica and deep-sea fauna and biology. She also has a long-lasting collaboration with Russian colleagues and the series of their deep-sea cruises to the NW Pacific and Arctic Seas led to the discovery of more than 100 new deep-sea species to science and their digitization efforts for that area increased the open deep-sea data to more than seven times than before. Her efforts and enthusiasm have had a major benefit to the deep-sea community and definitely increased our knowledge of the least explored ecosystem of the world, the deep sea.

Angelika has had a lot of awards and honors during her career, such as, the Annette-Barthelt Foundation science prize in 1992, the National Geographic Society award for Adventurer of the Year in 2007, and a SCAR Medal for excellence in Polar Sciences in 2008. Her 2007 Nature publication (co-authored by several ANDEEP collaborators) was designated as 4th of the 10 most important scientific discoveries in 2007 by Time magazine.

Angelika raised millions of euros through third-party funding from many different organizations, for example, the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) and The Federal Ministry of Education and Research, abbreviated BMBF. Only her last planned expedition (AleutBio project) brought an income of about 900.000 € providing a lot of opportunities for deep-sea scientists.

Angelika has a long list of public services and accomplishments. Some examples are being the expert team leader of the “Clean Ocean” team for the UN decade for ocean science and sustainability kick-off meeting in Berlin in 2021; Speaker for the research field “systematics and taxonomy” at Senckenberg, Steering Committee of SOOS (Southern Ocean Observing System) (2011 -2015); Vice President of the German Society for Polar Research (DGP) (2010 -2015), and a member of the advisory board of ESF ERICOM-RV Aurora Borealis Science (ESAP) between 2009 and 2012. In the framework of the Census of the Marine Life, she was involved in the Antarctic and deep-sea field projects CAML (Census of the Diversity of Antarctic Marine Life) and CeDAMar (Census of the Diversity of Abyssal Marine Life).

What first interested you in this field of research?

Watching marine animals from the shore when I was a child.

What are the regions/geographical areas you’ve most enjoyed working?

Both Polar areas and the deep sea in general.

Is there a specific piece of work from your career that you feel most proud of?

Yes, the ANDEEP expeditions to the Southern Ocean as well as most of my deep-sea expeditions, especially to the North Pacific.

What do you think is the most important focus for your research area in the future?

Working on species, describing the biodiversity and setting baselines for the establishment of MPAs.

Are there any organisms/species you’ve worked with that you have a particular fondness for? 

Especially isopod crustaceans, but in general I love all marine animals.

What does receiving the Carlo Heip Award from the International Association for Biological Oceanography mean to you?

It is an immense honour, as I knew Carlo Heip very well for many years. He was an outstanding ecologist and a very nice and kind person. I even applied for one of his PostDoc position in the EU-OMEX project in the early 90s of last century (I am getting old) and he offered it to me. I almost went to NIOZ, but then finally my PostDoc position in Kiel was extended and then I decided to stay and continue with my postDoc in Kiel.

What do you like to do away from your research activities?

I love to be at sea! I love the Ocean! I love to travel and lean about nature, geography and people. I like hiking and I like positive and open people – like Carlo!

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