The Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) is pleased to announce that Ikelau Otto will take on the role of Chief Researcher. As Chief Researcher, Ms. Otto will play a key role in coordinating research activities and supervising researchers and research assistants in the Research Department. She will also continue to conduct research and be involved in the different projects at the Center. 

The position of Chief Researcher has been vacant for several years while the Research Department was managed by the Research Department Director, Ms. Geraldine Rengiil. With the growth and expansion of the Research Department, it has become necessary to fill the Chief Researcher position once more to assist Director Rengill.

“I truly believe in the work that the Center does for Palau, Palauans, and all that make up our beautiful nation,” Ms. Otto said. “Over the years here, I have learned tremendously from all at the Center and all that visit the Center. I want to help the Research Department as we continue to grow and expand our work.”

Ms. Otto started as a Researcher at PICRC in 2015. From 2016-2018, she pursued a Master of Science in Chemistry, Biology, and Marine Sciences from the University of the Ryukyus in Japan where she evaluated the effects of sewage outflow on the growth and health of surrounding coral reefs to better understand the impact of the outflow pipe in Malakal Bay. Since returning to the Center, she has led the establishment of the ocean acidification (OA) lab, putting in place a monitoring protocol that tracks the changes in the marine environment over long periods of time. As part of this, she completed an OA fellowship in Hawai’i and additional training on the use of OA equipment. She has also been heavily involved in other research conducted by the Center, including the recent coral bleaching surveys. 

“Ikelau has contributed a lot to the Center and to Palau through her work over the last eight years,” said Director Rengill. “I’m proud to see how far she’s come as a researcher, and I look forward to working with her in this new capacity as the Center’s Chief Researcher.”

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