Fascinated with the sea from the early days growing up in Tunisia, Rachel Graham was drawn to the fields of research, environment and development in Latin America, Africa and Micronesia.
For the past 30 years she has worked with both the private sector and institutions such as the United Nations, the University of York, the Smithsonian Institution and the Wildlife Conservation Society. And in 2014, Rachel founded MarAlliance to promote impactful and inclusive grassroots science and conservation of marine wildlife.
For over three decades Rachel has lived in Central America (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama) and worked with traditional fishers and sectoral partners in several tropical countries to identify and implement win-win solutions that balance coastal community well-being with sustainable resource use and the conservation of threatened marine wildlife and their critical habitats. As part of this work, Rachel has catalysed a range of megafauna research and conservation action worldwide that have led to policy change, protected area creation/expansion, creation of alternative or supplementary livelihoods, behavioural and attitudinal changes and other conservation outcomes. She is an active member of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group, the World Commission on Protected Areas and the Species Specialist Group on Monitoring and helped to found several National Shark Advisory Committees to better facilitate information sharing as well as management and policy reform for elasmobranchs.
Rachel holds a BSc in Zoology from Oxford, an MSc from Edinburgh and a PhD from the University of York, UK. In 2011, she won the Whitley Fund for Nature Gold Award for her work with sharks and communities, a Pew Marine Fellowship in 2021 and Oceana’s Belize Ocean Hero Award in 2022. She is most proud of her two sons, who balance their love of fishing with their even greater love of protecting the sea and its fishes.