Advocating for Marine Conservation

Amal Al Gergawi is a research fellow in NYU Abu Dhabi’s Marine Biology Lab, working under Associate Professor of Biology, John Burt.

Amal Al Gergawi, who graduated at NYU Abu Dhabi with a degree in Social Research and Public Policy, researches marine conservation, policy, and governance in the region.

Along with her colleagues, Amal has been developing a systematic review of desalination research trends and patterns in the Arabian eco-region. They are also conducting a study on the social consequences of coastal urbanization across the UAE, which is part of an interdisciplinary project funded by the Center for Interacting Urban Networks (CITIES).

Amal attributes her time at NYUAD as laying a foundation that gave her the critical skills and curiosity which propelled her to further her studies at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. In those two thrilling years, Amal pursued a Master of Science in Comparative and International Education and a Master of Science in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation. 

“Circling back into campus as a Kawader research fellow comes with new avenues to apply my multidisciplinary training to investigate questions related to the science-policy nexus, particularly on issues of marine science, conservation, and governance within the United Arab Emirates and the surrounding eco-region,” Amal said.

Amal's commitment to expanding her expertise and fostering a better appreciation of the critical issues affecting the oceans and how social structures interact with it continues to drive her forward. "I look forward to leveraging these lessons and skills to publish evidence-based marine policy research and advocate for the conservation and sustainable management of the marine environment in the coming years.”

Her research at NYUAD is also gaining international recognition. Amal presented her paper on women conducting research in the GCC with her co-author Maryam Al-Memari at the 2022 Gulf Research Meeting at the University of Cambridge. This paper is the basis for a chapter in a book for Springer Nature that Amal is working on.

The study argues that using mixed methods in marine research can identify transformative policies to enhance gender equity in science. Amal reflects that the opportunity to participate and present this study at the meeting assisted her team in situating their study within the broader discourse on urbanisation. 

To Amal, Professor Burt has been an exceptional mentor in terms of his technical expertise when offering detailed feedback and serving as a sounding board, and his unwavering commitment to integrating Amal and her colleagues in the local environmental landscape. 

Through Professor John Burt’s guidance, I have had the privilege of participating in workshops, conferences, and stakeholder meetings with organisations such as the Environmental Agency Abu Dhabi, the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy, the Dubai Future Foundation, Emirates Nature - WWF, and the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. These engagements have been of great insight for my current and future research directions.

As a Kawader research fellow at NYU Abu Dhabi's Marine Biology Lab, Amal also has had exciting opportunities beyond her lab work. She earned a powerboat level 2 license and practised driving, navigating, anchoring, and docking NYUAD's boat. Amal has also relished learning and practising new knots, seeing unique marine life, and eating with colleagues every “Burt Lab” lunch at noon.

“Each day as a Kawader fellow has brought new lessons, insights, and discoveries, and I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this transformative experience.”