World Seagrass Conference & International Seagrass Biology Workshop
WSC2022 & ISBW14
Signs of Success    Annapolis, MD    7 - 12 August, 2022 The ISBW14 & WSC22 Planning Committees would like to thank everyone for an AMAZING week in Annapolis!! See you in Napoli, 2024!! 

WSA Seagrass Seminar Series

That's a wrap! Thanks to all of our seminar speakers and to all of you who attended our WSA Seagrass Seminars! Now that the 2022 World Seagrass Conference and 14th International Seagrass Biology Workshop are just around the corner, we're focusing our attention on finalizing plans for the big event. If you missed any of the seminars, recordings are available for each on our ISBW14 YouTube channel and linked below each of the seminar descriptions below.


Since we weren't able to hold our event in 2020, and because August 2022 is still a long way away, the ISBW and WSC steering committee is working with the World Seagrass Association to present the World Seagrass Association Seagrass Seminar Series. Every other month between March 2021 and August 2022, we will offer a unique, seagrass-oriented seminar covering topics like global seagrass monitoring, communities of practice, citizen science and communication, DEIJ, and seagrass advocacy and awareness.

This seminar series will feature talks and panel discussions from experts around the world, so times will vary and hopefully everyone will be able to catch at least one or two seminars "live". If you miss one, every seminar in the series will be recorded and available to view on this website as well as the WSA website.

As planning progresses, speakers will be announced here, via email, and on social media. If you'd like to be added to our email list, please let us know at

Richard Unsworth, PhD

Richard Unsworth, PhD

Inspiring Optimism for Seagrass Conservation

27 April, 2022; Zoom

Time: 12:00 PM GMT (8:00 AM EDT)

Seminar Abstract: Seagrass meadows have long been considered the ugly ducklings of marine conservation. This poor societal recognition is a major factor influencing their decline around the globe. In 2011 we recognised this as an acute problem in the UK, necessitating a change of emphasis in how we approached communication seagrass conservation. Seagrass ecosystems in the UK required science that could drive conservation. In 2013 we set up Project Seagrass to bring a sense of ambition to seagrass conservation in order end the status of quo of a trajectory of decline and to take that message beyond the UK. In this talk we will tell the story of Project Seagrass and the many aligned programmes that have developed as part of the creation of this young charitable organisation.

Speaker Bio: Richard Unsworth is an Associate Professor in marine ecology at Swansea University where he uses research as a means to solve real world problems in seagrass conservation and restoration. He also has a particular interest in understanding the ecosystem service value of seagrass meadows and has worked extensively on examining the role they play in supporting fisheries. He has experimented with the methods behind seagrass restoration for almost a decade, leading to his major role in driving the UKs first major seagrass restoration project. Richard has almost twenty years’ experience of research in marine systems and has conducted collaborative interdisciplinary research in Europe, Australia, the Caribbean and SE Asia. In 2013, Richard collaborated with the team to transform this academic research into conservation action by helping set up Project Seagrass.

A recording of this presentation will be available on the ISBW14 YouTube channel here:

Jennifer McHugh, Dr. Abbi Scott, and Dr. Ashley Scarlett

Jennifer McHugh, Dr. Abbi Scott, and Dr. Ashley Scarlett

Effectively Promoting Seagrass Research, Education, and Conservation using Social Media and Online Platforms

27 October, 2021; Zoom

Time: 10:00 - 11:30 A.M. Australian Eastern Standard Time (GMT+10);

8:00 P.M. - 9:30 P.M. on 26 October, Eastern Daylight Time US

Seminar Abstract: Love it or hate it, social media is rapidly becoming the primary way people communicate with one another and obtain information. In a world where the dissemination of scientific information faces a multitude of challenges, tapping into the power of social media has clear advantages. This WSA Seagrass Seminar will be all about the use of social media and online platforms to effectively promote seagrass research, education, and conservation. Jennifer McHugh, Dr. Abbi Scott, and Dr. Ashley Scarlett - all pros in the field - will each discuss their individual approaches to successful and engaging science communication via social media. Following their presentations, we'll have a brief Q&A session. Check out their abstracts and bios below.

Jennifer McHugh's Abstract: What you say isn’t as important as who you are saying it to. The aim of any presentation is usually to convey information, persuade or create interest. But none of your goals can be achieved no matter how fantastic your presentation is, unless the audience is engaged. Ken Haemer, a Toastmaster said that “designing a presentation without an audience in mind is like writing a love letter and addressing it: To Whom It May Concern.” Engaging an audience, especially a general and diverse audience, is challenging. This short presentation will hopefully provide you with a few tools to help make your presentations audience centric.

Dr. Abbi Scott's Abstract: Seagrass meadows might be one of the underdogs in terms of charismatic marine habitats, but as seagrass scientists we have an opportunity to change this perception. How can we share the wonder of seagrass science with the world at large? And is this a useful investment of our time? As scientists we have a range of tools at our disposal to share our research findings, more about seagrass habitats, and also the adventures of fieldwork. Find out how to use these tools to share your science, inspire more people to take an interest in seagrasses and to advocate for seagrass habitats. I will talk about some of the tools I use to promote my own research and the work of the James Cook University Seagrass Ecology Group, and why investing time in using these tools is worthwhile.

Dr. Ashley Scarlett's Abstract: Social media and online digital networking are not only a way to engage and connect with others, but they are a great avenue to create behavioral change, promote, and advocate for issues. Everyone from corporations to Governments, from NGOs to royal families are connecting to the public through social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn etc.). Through these networks we can share knowledge and ideas and engage with key audiences. But it is very common to see the potentially powerful tools of social media platforms being used ineffectively. All too commonly social media posts do not reach the desired audience, or if they do reach that audience, the posts are barely glanced at, and the outreach has negligible impact. So, what are the “dos” and “don’ts” of science communication on social media? Scientists that engage with social media often just “dabble” with using the medium and do not build a significant audience. Frequently organizations underestimate how difficult it can be to produce an effective social media campaign, or the skills and expertise that are needed to produce an effective campaign. Many conservation initiatives or scientific breakthroughs have failed to get public attention, or have any impact at all, because of a lack of research into their audience or investment in communications talent. This presentation provides some tips to effective communication via social media – an online science communication crash course - which will provide a good start to, hopefully, your long journey with communication and outreach via digital platforms.

Speaker Bios:

Jen McHugh: Jen McHugh is a Program Coordination at The Cairns Institute, James Cook University. Her background is in Social Science and she has mentored and trained over 80 TEDx speakers. She has also worked with scientists from a broad range of disciplines to improve and translate science communication. Jen has an active fear of public speaking and for her getting up in front of an audience seems really unnatural. But like many in science she understands the importance of conveying information and engaging audiences. This requires overcoming nerves and putting the audience first.

Dr. Abbi Scott: Dr. Abbi Scott is a Research Officer at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, where she recently completed her PhD. Abbi’s research investigates the role of herbivory in structuring seagrass meadows in the Great Barrier Reef. Before her PhD, Abbi carried out seagrass research and coordinated rocky shore citizen science projects in the UK. Abbi is passionate about communicating seagrass science on social media, at public events, on her monthly radio segment and is on the organising committee for the Pint of Science festival in Australia.


Twitter: @abbilscott

Dr. Ashley Scarlett: Dr Ashley Scarlett (also known as Dr. Scarlett Smash) is a marine conservation and science communication specialist. She has a doctorate degree in interdisciplinary natural and social science research and a master’s degree in effective science communication methods. She started her career organizing large events like environmental festivals, sustainable international science conferences, and environmental campaigns (eg. multi-organization recycling initiatives).

As online communications expanded, she gained a position as the Operations Director for Speak Up For Blue productions – one of the biggest independent nature podcasting companies globally. After seeing Speak Up For Blue grow, Ashley opened her own communications consulting company, Absolutely Smashing Events & Consulting, to broaden her services from producing, hosting, and editing marine science & environmental podcasts to other forms of social media content, video production and science event planning and organizing.

Ashley Scarlett’s current clients include Speak Up For Blue Productions, the Coastal Futures Conference, the AAAS’s Sci on the Fly podcast, the Animal Welfare Institute and the Society for Marine Mammalogy. She is the host, producer, and editor of the Marine Conservation Happy Hour podcast and YouTube series (top 5 nature podcast in 47 countries), the Marine Mammal Science podcast, and The Guide to Mindful Conservation podcast.

Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok @drscarlettsmash

Facebook @AshleyScarlett or @mchhpodcast

Youtube – Dr Scarlett Smash

Absolutely Smashing Events and Consulting

A recording of this seminar is available on the ISBW14 YouTube channel here:

Emma Jackson, PhD

Emma Jackson, PhD

Restoring seagrass resilience in a dynamic seascape: the challenges and the opportunities

25 August 2021; Zoom

Time: 4:00-5:00 P.M. Australian Eastern Standard Time; 2:00 A.M. Eastern Standard Time US and Canada

Seminar Abstract: Tropical and sub-tropical seagrass meadows are recognized for their ability to naturally recover from disturbances within relatively short time frames (c. 5 years), but this is being redefined by climate change. Degradation over multiple years of La Niña climate events are impacting the ability of some meadows to recover before the next events. With projected scenarios of more frequent La Niña climate conditions and severe storms, loss will likely increase, particularly when combined with cumulative anthropogenic pressures facing seagrasses, such as coastal development. Proactive intervention is a necessity. These dynamic meadows have some unique challenges, including understanding natural dynamics and the timing of interventions. Focusing on case studies from the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, this seminar will examine approaches to restoration in these dynamic systems and both the barriers to large scale restoration and the opportunities.

Speaker Bio: Emma Jackson is the Director of the Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre at CQUniversity, based in the multi-commodity Port of Gladstone within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. She has 20 years of research expertise in the areas of seagrass landscape and restoration ecology, impacts on marine species, coastal marine habitats and ecosystem health indicators. Her research is driven by the idea that coastal development is an ever-increasing human activity, but that there are ways in which this development can work with nature rather than against it to maintain ecosystem health, in turn supporting our health and wellbeing as humans. Currently, Emma leads a research program on the construction of a science-based framework for seagrass restoration in Queensland.

A recording of this presentation is available on the ISBW14 YouTube channel here:

Aurora Ricart, PhD & Yan Xiang Ow, PhD

Aurora Ricart, PhD & Yan Xiang Ow, PhD

Ocean Acidification and the Role of Seagrasses in Mitigation

19 May 2021; Zoom

9:00 AM Singapore Standard Time

This seminar will include two talks followed by a moderated Q&A with the speaker panel.

The first talk will be given by Dr. Aurora Ricart, and is titled: Can seagrasses turn back the clock on ocean acidification?

Abstract: The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is essential to slow down the velocity of climate change. Likewise, the complementary implementation of other mitigation and adaptation strategies is equally important to increase environmental, social, and economic resilience. In the ocean, one strategy is to focus conservation and management actions on foundation species of marine macrophytes, such as seagrass meadows. First, the capacity of these systems to sequester carbon in the sediments (blue carbon) makes them carbon sinks at global scales. Second, the capacity of these systems to increase local mean pH by removing CO2 from seawater through net photosynthetic activity makes them important habitats to consider as ocean acidification (OA) refugia. However, photosynthesis and respiration cycles in seagrass ecosystems in combination with multiple biogeochemical and physical processes that occur in coastal areas, often create marked fluctuations in pH that lead to uncertainty regarding the generality of potential seagrass-pH benefits. Therefore, while their carbon sink capacity is widely recognized, the capacity of marine macrophytes to effectively buffer OA is still an open question. In this talk, Dr. Ricart will review past, current and future work on the capacity of seagrass ecosystems to alleviate low pH conditions and discuss the implications for the conservation and management of coastal ecosystems.

The second talk will be given by Dr. Yan Xiang Ow, and is titled: Can seagrass be the winner in ocean acidification?

Abstract: Ocean acidification (OA), as a result of increased carbon dioxide dissolved in seawater, can enable seagrass productivity to increase. However, productivity responses to increasing pCO2 might be subjected to other environmental factors that influence metabolic processes, such as water temperature and local water quality. Investigations into whether seagrass can be true “winners” in OA is necessary, as primary productivity governs many key seagrass ecosystem functions such as carbon sequestration and pH buffering – services that could contribute to the impetus to conserve and restore seagrass beds in this current climate. In this talk, Dr. Ow will discuss her work on the physiological responses of seagrass to OA and other key environmental parameters. Her findings also highlight some potential caveats on generalizing seagrass response to OA and their capacity to mitigate low pH conditions for downstream organisms.

Speaker Bios:

Dr. Aurora M Ricart is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and at the Bodega Marine Laboratory - University of California, Davis, USA. She is a marine ecologist studying global change in coastal marine ecosystems. Her research addresses questions in four main areas: Seascape ecology, Community ecology, Ecosystems resilience, Coastal carbon cycling. Her general approach consists of developing studies in field and lab settings to investigate (1) impacts of climate change, environmental change, and human action in foundation species of marine macrophytes (seagrasses and seaweeds), and (2) the potential of these vegetated ecosystems to combat climate change effects through carbon sequestration. Towards that purpose, Aurora draws on techniques that span ecology, ecophysiology, biogeochemistry, and oceanography. Aurora received her B.Sc from the University of Valencia (Spain), and a M.Sc and Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Barcelona (Spain). She has worked in seagrass ecosystems in different tropical and temperate regions around the world including the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic oceans. During all her career Aurora has also been extensively involved in monitoring programs and seagrass habitat mapping projects. Her work on seagrasses has been featured in Reuters, Forbes, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Scientific American among other media.

Email: ,


Social Media: Skype: Aurora M Ricart || Twitter: @Ricart_Aurora_M

Dr. Yan Xiang (“YX”) Ow is a Research Fellow with St John Island National Marine Laboratory and Tropical Marine Science Institute, National University of Singapore. YX completed her B.Sc education in the National University of Singapore, and her Ph.D. in James Cook University (Australia). Her research interest lies in examining how marine phototrophs, specifically seagrasses and corals, respond and adapt to changes to their environment due to climate change and water quality. Because marine phototrophs can feedback to their environment, their potential to mitigate negative environmental change is also of great interest. YX typically dwells amongst aquaria tanks in marine laboratories, tinkering with controls to manipulate the living conditions for her experimental organisms. In short, she kills seagrass for science. With her findings, she builds on the expertise of her fellow colleagues – ecologists, modelers, environmental managers, science communicators etc – to translate her experimental research into actionable items.



A recording of this presentation is available on the ISBW14 YouTube channel here:

Jonathan Lefcheck, PhD

Jonathan Lefcheck, PhD

Towards a global seagrass monitoring network: The past, present and future of collaboration

31 March 2021; Zoom

12:00 - 1:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Seminar Abstract: Global recognition of the importance of seagrass is higher than ever before, as evidenced by the increasing rate of scientific publications on the topic. Seagrass research has also recently been featured in numerous international periodicals and summarized in a UN Environmental Programme report. Importantly, this valuable and irreplaceable habitat has become the cornerstone of many local, regional, national, and international efforts to improve coastal sustainability and mitigate climate impacts. As a result, there has never been a more important or socially relevant time to monitor, understand, map, and share information related to seagrasses. This talk will review the past, present, and future of global seagrass research. It will begin by highlighting existing long-term monitoring programs and focus on the insights gained from over 100,000 SeagrassNet observations collected from 35 countries over the past twenty years. The talk will then go on to discuss mapping and monitoring programs from areas around the world, including the Indo-West Pacific, Asia, Australia, and North America. Recent efforts to synthesize the status and trends of seagrasses will be reviewed and emerging platforms to define and disseminate best practices centered around the Global Ocean Observing System’s “Essential Ocean Variables” will be discussed. Finally, the open and inclusive future of collaborative global research will be highlighted and participants will learn how they too can contribute to the next generation of seagrass science.

Speaker Bio: Dr. Jonathan Lefcheck is currently the Tennenbaum Coordinating Scientist for the MarineGEO Network at the Smithsonian Institution and is based at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, MD, USA. He is a marine community ecologist and biodiversity scientist who has worked on a variety of coastal ecosystems from oyster and coral reefs to salt marshes, kelp forests, and deep-sea hydrothermal vents, but has a deep and enduring love for seagrasses. He also develops novel statistical tools to help understand natural systems, particularly the growing technique of “structural equation modeling.” He is currently focused on coordinating global seagrass monitoring and synthesis through MarineGEO and SeagrassNet.

Jon received his B.A. from Colby College in 2009 and his Ph.D. from the College of William and Mary in 2015, and has conducted post-doctoral research at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. His work on seagrasses has been featured in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Smithsonian Magazine, Hakai Magazine, and on National Public Radio.

A recording of this presentation is available on the ISBW14 YouTube channel here: