Having discovered more than a hundred species in her scientific research activities Vreni Häussermann, the scientific director of the Huinay Foundation, has become one of the most influential women at Enel Chile (the company that fully funds the Huinay Foundation). The biologist has spent 19 years exploring the marine and terrestrial species of Comau Fjord in the Chilean Lake District, achieving major advances in research into the Patagonian marine environment.
In view of this work and in recognition of her extreme dedication to sustainable activities and preservation of the area’s biodiversity, Häussermann has become the first Chilean woman to receive a Rolex Award for Enterprise - an international prize that honors people who have the courage and conviction to take on major challenges for humanity’s future, expanding knowledge or improving life on the planet.
The scientist’s key findings have disproved previous theories, with remarkable new insights into the cold water coral ecosystems that abound in the region’s shallow waters and are not found anywhere else on Earth, now under threat worldwide from trawling and ocean acidification, as well as other major factors.
To date Vreni’s diving work has been limited to a maximum depth of 30 meters, but the Rolex award will allow her to continue her exploration with a remote-operated submersible that can reach every corner of the fjords, at depths of up to 500 meters.
What new findings and marine biodiversity will the Huinay Foundation’s scientific director discover? This video shows Vreni’s prize ceremony and acceptance speech at the 2016 Rolex Awards for Enterprise.