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A crowning achievement: Cornell research on how plastics adversely affect coral reefs received a royal shout-out from the Prince of Wales (at 2:29).

The prince expounded on oceanic problems like bleaching, destructive fishing and land-based pollution in an address Feb. 14 on the International Year of the Reef at London’s Fishmonger’s Hall. “If that were not enough, ladies and gentlemen, we now understand that the scourge of plastic in the ocean is causing the rapid increase of lethal coral diseases,” he said.

Lead author Joleah Lamb, postdoctoral research fellow, and senior author Drew Harvell, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, published their research in Science Jan. 25. Among the co-authors are Courtney Couch, Ph.D. ’13, now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, and Evan Fiorenza ’17, now a graduate student at the University of Washington. American sources of funding for the research came from the National Science Foundation, The Nature Conservancy and Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

In learning about the sovereign shout-out, Lamb’s majestic reaction: “I may have cried a little about the impact this could make on policy and change for coral reefs.”

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