UBC Professor Villy Christensen Received Award of Excellence

September 24, 2020

Contact: Beth Beard
[email protected]



(Bethesda, Md.) September 24, 2020 – Dr. Villy Christensen, professor and former director at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia, received the Award of Excellence at the 2020 American Fisheries Society (AFS) Virtual Annual Meeting.

AFS President Scott Bonar presented the award at the day’s virtual plenary session. The Award of Excellence is presented to a living person for original and outstanding contributions to fisheries and aquatic biology. It is the Society’s highest award for scientific achievement.

“Dr. Christensen is one of the most influential fisheries scientists in the world today. His scientific leadership and insights have had a profound effect on fisheries scientists, fisheries management, and mankind,” said AFS President Bonar.

Christensen received his Ph.D. in Ecosystem Modelling from the University of Copenhagen in 1992. He served as a Program Leader with the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management in the Philippines prior to joining the faculty at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada. He served as Director of the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at UBC and continues as a professor.

Christensen grew up in a Danish commercial fishing family, and his research interest has always been in finding ways to provide sustainable fishing opportunities in the face of often conflicting demands for ecosystem protection or conservation. He has been a tireless worker towards that end. As such, he is best known as the principal architect behind Ecopath and the project leader and core developer of this software system. Because it is freely distributed, Ecopath software has revolutionized the ability of fisheries scientists to understand ecosystems and to inform living marine resource management throughout the world. In 2009, Ecopath was recognized by NOAA as one of ten major scientific breakthroughs in the organization’s 200-year history.

Christensen is also a highly productive scientist, authoring more than 100 scientific papers, several of which have been published in high-profile journals such as Science and Nature. According to Google Scholar, his papers have been cited more than 24,000 times. He is the most highly cited researcher in the general area of ecosystem modeling, and is among the top 10 people cited in the areas of fisheries management and fisheries in general.

In addition to his research contributions, Dr. Christensen has led more than 65 training courses and workshops in 22 countries, centered on the development of ecosystem approaches to fisheries management. He served as graduate advisor to 24 graduate students and mentored 34 visiting students and fellows from Asia, Australia, Central America, South America, and Europe.

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Editor’s Notes:

Founded in 1870, the American Fisheries Society (AFS) is the world’s oldest and largest fisheries science society. The mission of AFS is to improve the conservation and sustainability of fishery resources and aquatic ecosystems by advancing fisheries and aquatic science and promoting the development of fisheries professionals. With five journals and numerous books and conferences, AFS is the leading source of fisheries science and management information in North America and around the world.