Dr. John Cigliano’s fascination with octopuses started with watching The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau as a child. He studied the behavioral ecology of octopuses as a graduate student. But, as his studies progressed, he became aware of just how serious are the conservation issues affecting marine ecosystems. So, after completing his Ph.D., he decided to change his focus to marine conservation and conservation education. Cigliano continues to emphasize conservation education of all varieties, from formal classroom settings to informal outreach sessions in the field.
Cigliano is currently the Director of Environmental Conservation and Professor of Biology at Cedar Crest College. He is also the meeting Co-Chair and Scientific Program Chair of the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC3). About serving as Chair of IMCC3, Cigliano said, “It’s a privilege to chair IMCC3. I can think of no better way to advance marine conservation than to help bring together so many people who are so passionate about the conservation of marine biodiversity.”
Cigliano assisted with organizing previous IMCCs, and he was the Chair of the International Congress for Conservation Biology in 2013.
IMCC is the international conference of the Society for Conservation Biology Marine Section, for which Cigliano serves as the President. “I can’t stress enough how important IMCCs have become,” he emphasized. “They are now the premier gathering for marine conservationists, both researchers and practitioners. What really makes IMCCs special is the emphasis on solutions, as evidenced by the overall theme of all IMCCs: Making Marine Science Matter. It’s not only about research or doom and gloom, but about practice and success.”
He is actively involved in citizen science and promotes the various ways citizen science can be used in conservation research. He is an organizer for a symposium at IMCC3 on Making Citizen Science Matter, along with a focus group following the symposium.
Cigliano uses citizen scientists in all of his research and has developed, tested, and assessed conservation-related educational material as part of the Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners of the American Museum of Natural History. He said, “Ultimately we need to educate the public and develop future conservationists if we are going to be effective in conserving biodiversity.”
Since receiving a Ph.D., Cigliano has researched the conservation of marine fisheries, focusing on queen conch. He recently decided to take his research in a slightly different direction—the effects of ocean acidification and climate change on marine animal behavior and intertidal community structure. He is starting a new research project in Acadia National Park on the effects of ocean acidification and climate change on the structure of rocky intertidal communities.
Follow Cigliano on Twitter @TieDyedSeas.