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Dr Louisa Ponnampalam

Dr. Louisa Ponnampalam is a marine mammal scientist and conservationist committed to advancing the scientific understanding of endangered marine mammals in Malaysia. She co-founded MareCet in 2012, Malaysia’s first and only NGO devoted to marine mammal and habitat research and conservation. She currently serves as Chairperson and Executive Director of MareCet. Working alongside a dedicated team, Louisa has initiated several projects, including the Langkawi-Perlis Dolphin Research Project, Matang Dolphin Research Project, Dugong Research and Conservation Project, Sea, Science and Schools Programme, and the Whales-on-the-Wheels Mobile Marine Exhibition.

In 2014, Louisa became the first Malaysian to receive the Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation from the Pew Charitable Trusts in the USA. The Malaysian government recognized her contributions with the 2014 Anugerah Perdana Belia Negara. She was also a finalist at the inaugural Women of the Future Awards in South East Asia in 2018 and featured in Prestige Malaysia’s 40 Under-40 Honour Roll in 2020. Louisa was one of 100 women cetologists showcased in the American Cetacean Society’s Special Edition Newsletter in 2020. In 2022, she was the 2nd runner-up in the inaugural Blue Water Heroes Award, created by ONE°15 Events Management, powered by Gen.T and Tatler Singapore.

Louisa’s goal is to mentor local researchers who will become future ambassadors for marine mammal conservation and the marine environment in Malaysia through hands-on involvement in MareCet’s initiatives. She leads by example and strives to be a role model, especially for young women, encouraging them to pursue their dreams fearlessly. In her leisure time, she enjoys the outdoors, performing arts, spending time with her pets, chasing sunsets, and showcasing the incredible diversity of Malaysia’s culture and environment.

To me, making an impact is hearing kids say that their participation in MareCet’s initiatives inspired them to take action for Mother Nature. It is to receive a parent’s feedback that MareCet’s educational programme has made a world of difference for their child. It is to hear from a friend’s mother that she is now more selective of the types of seafood she eats because she remembered what I told her about the importance of sustainability.

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