Associate Professor Ashley Ward wins FSBI medal

31 May 2011

Associate Professor Ashley Ward is the 2011 Fisheries Society of the British Isles  medal winner.
Associate Professor Ashley Ward is the 2011 Fisheries Society of the British Isles medal winner.

Associate Professor Ashley Ward, from the School of Biological Sciences, has won a medal from the Fisheries Society of the British Isles (FSBI) which recognises distinction in early career research.

The prestigious FSBI medal is awarded annually to a scientist under 40 who has made exceptional advances to the field of fish biology.

"As you can imagine, this is a huge honour for me, by far the biggest of my career," said Associate Professor Ward.

"I was amazed, astonished and delighted when they told me! Quite a few high profile people have won this in previous years so I'm really honoured to have won the medal myself."

Each year, the FSBI awards three medals which recognise achievements of fish biologists around the world: the Beverton medal for life-long individual contributions to fish biology, the Le Cren medal for conservation, training or public understanding of the discipline, and the FSBI medal for exceptional advances in early career.

Associate Professor Ward has spent over a decade studying the social behaviour of fish. His research in the emerging field of Collective Behaviour has given some fascinating insights into mechanisms behind the well-known "wisdom of the crowds" phenomenon.

"Essentially collective behaviour looks at whether a group of animals is simply a sum of its parts or if the individuals together produce something greater," said Associate Professor Ward. "And in many cases, they do."

Associate Professor Ward's body of research has shed light on the mechanisms by which groups 'decide', showing often that groups make better decisions than individuals.

For example, through research published in January this year, Associate Professor Ward and colleagues demonstrated for the first time that larger social groups make faster and more accurate decisions. This crucial benefit may have been important in promoting the evolution of sociality, a strategy used by a huge variety of animals from ants to humans.

Associate Professor Ward will be presented with his medal at the annual FSBI conference, held this year in Bournemouth, UK.

Contact: Carla Avolio

Phone: 02 9351 4543

Email: 55333904175b2b26003e462a2611111619551c183208176b524c