ASU partners with the Commonwealth Secretariat to widen support for coral reef management

October 18, 2021

To advance climate action and protect the world’s vital ecosystems, resources must be made accessible to those in conservation. In an effort to support expanded coral reef protection — an ecosystem integral to coastal communities and marine biodiversity — Arizona State University is partnering with the Commonwealth Secretariat to bring cutting-edge coral-mapping technology to the teams at the forefront of policy action.

Through their partnership, ASU and the Commonwealth Secretariat will provide governmental decision-makers and coastal managers with cutting-edge data from the Allen Coral Atlas: a tool mapping and monitoring the world’s tropical coral reefs in unprecedented detail, led by ASU. Allen Coral Atlas shows coral bleaching data in Papua New Guinea on Sept. 27, 2021. Download Full Image

The Commonwealth Secretariat is an intergovernmental organization connecting 54 Commonwealth countries in efforts to advance sustainable development, democracy and peace. In April 2018, the organization adopted the Commonwealth Blue Charter as a commitment from member countries to collaborate on ocean solutions.

“The Commonwealth is home to 45% of the world’s tropical coral reefs, which act as vital reservoirs of marine life and biodiversity, natural sea defenses, and a source of life and livelihood for millions of people. However, they are severely threatened by global warming and other human pressures.” said Paulo Kautoke, senior director for trade, oceans and natural resources at the Commonwealth Secretariat. “This initiative will provide Commonwealth countries with essential geographic data and ecosystem health information to protect and manage their coral reefs in a sustainable manner. The Commonwealth Blue Charter action groups can also facilitate learning and help member countries make the most effective use of this information.”

Earlier this year, the Allen Coral Atlas added a groundbreaking new feature to monitor coral bleaching by using satellite images to detect whitening on the seafloor. Bleaching is driven by climate change, pollution and other stressors, and it occurs when marine heat waves cause coral to expel algae and lose their color.

To push adoption of the groundbreaking tool, the Commonwealth Secretariat will soon be launching online training modules for coral managers and technicians in member countries to learn how to use the Allen Coral Atlas to map local reefs, study bleaching trends and feed this data into policy and decision-making processes.

The Commonwealth Blue Charter is implemented through 10 country-driven action groups, each led by a "champion country." Championed by Australia, Belize and Mauritius, the action group on coral reef protection and restoration include countries such as the Bahamas, Barbados, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom.

“By partnering with the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Allen Coral Atlas will reach new countries and communities as a resource to generate and scale coral reef protection and management,” said Greg Asner, managing director of the Allen Coral Atlas and director of the Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science at ASU. “The true impact will best be achieved as more governments and organizations implement the Atlas toolkit in pursuit of long-term reef sustainability, biodiversity protection, and the preservation of human livelihoods that depend on the world’s coral reefs.”

Since its launch in 2017, the Allen Coral Atlas has become the pre-eminent coral reef habitat dataset and is already in use by many Commonwealth countries. For example, the habitat maps were used by the Commonwealth in mid-2021 to track the enduring impacts of the MV Wakashio oil spill, which occurred in Mauritius last August, and the same maps were used by the government of Sri Lanka in 2019 to upgrade a marine protected area to a national park.

Through this partnership, the Allen Coral Atlas is positioned to be widely utilized as an integrated and comprehensive resource to protect underwater ecosystems and drive informed ocean policy.

Makenna Flynn

Communications Specialist, Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science

ASU alumnus, Olympic gold medalist reflects on his career in athletics administration

October 18, 2021

At just 21 years old, Herman Frazier won gold and bronze medals in the 1976 Olympic games. Now, 45 years later, Frazier is being honored as one of The College Leaders for 2021 from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University. 

MORE: 4 outstanding ASU alumni honored as The College Leaders of 2021 Arizona State University alumnus Herman Frazier is being honored as one of The College Leaders for 2021 from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Download Full Image

Frazier, who earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from ASU in 1977, first began college at Denison University. But after competing for one semester in track and field, his talent for the sport was recognized. He transferred to ASU on an athletic scholarship in 1975 and went on to compete in the 1976 Olympic games in Montreal, where he brought home a gold medal in the 4x400 meter relay and an individual bronze medal in the 400-meter dash.

Upon graduating he was offered a position with Sun Devil Athletics. He remained with the university for 23 years, working in athletics administration and eventually becoming the senior associate athletic director and leading ASU to a national title in track and field.

In 2002, to celebrate and honor Frazier’s lifetime achievements, his friends and colleagues initiated the Herman R. Frazier Scholarship Endowment in the School of Politics and Global Studies to benefit undergraduate students studying political science.

“After I got my Bachelor of Science in political science, I entered graduate school at Arizona State in the public administration program. But while I was there I got hired by the university; that's when they pulled me out and selected me to become an assistant athletic director, making me in charge of events and facilities when I was only 23 years old. That was unheard of. It was an opportunity that I just could not turn down,” Frazier said.

He currently serves as the senior deputy director of athletics at Syracuse University, where he has been since 2011. Prior to working at Syracuse University, he held a number of athletic director positions at universities around the country, including the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Temple University and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. 

Here, he shares more about his Sun Devil story, his career and his advice for ASU students.

Question: What initially interested you about your major, and how did it help prepare you for your career?

Answer: I always wanted to be a lawyer. Even though track and field got in the way, I was pursuing my bachelor’s degree in political science. … A lot of people say I probably could have been involved in politics. I'm involved in politics every day with the job that I do. It was no different from when the job was at Arizona State or the other institutions I have worked at since Arizona State. There's no question that every day of my life I deal with politics. Even now for what I do here at Syracuse University, as the deputy director of athletics, I am also a registered lobbyist for the university. So I go to Albany and lobby different legislatures on behalf of Syracuse.

Q: What is your favorite part about your chosen career path?

A: Well, first of all, I don't look at my job as work. I was interviewing someone for a position and they asked me, how did I view my job? I get people asking me that question often. One of the things I tell them is I really don't work. My job is my hobby because when I come to work, I just have so much fun. Now having said that, there are a lot of things that I have to do on a day-to-day basis or a weekly basis or a monthly basis that are somewhat strenuous and somewhat difficult. However, that's just part of the job. I am so happy that I chose the career that I did, and I would not have it any other way.

Q: What is your biggest motivation to succeed professionally?

A: My biggest motivation has always been to impress my parents. My parents instilled education in me, and I was very fortunate to be able to be on an athletic scholarship and go to Arizona State University. As I sit here today, to be chosen for this award, I only wish my parents were alive so that they could see this and be a part of it as well. Because this is how they raised me.

Q: What advice would you give to students in The College?

A: The thing I would say to students is that you're at an age and a time in your life where there's so much going on and you should take in whatever you can as far as knowledge and education and life lessons from the university. Please take advantage of it. My three and a half years as an undergraduate were some of the best years of my life; I didn't want to leave college. I had so much fun, and every day was a blessing. … I would say to all the young people, even if you're not an athlete, enjoy The College and all the things that Arizona State University represents.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in 10 years?

A: I'll be retired, and I will probably be back living in the Phoenix metropolitan area and attending ASU football games and basketball games and track meets and, who knows, maybe even walking around campus trying to provide any kind of support that young people may need. Once I hang it up here and have time on my hands, I'd be happy to assist anybody who needs any assistance.

Emily Balli

Manager of marketing and communications, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences