Meet the young geographer who is making waves in marine science and sustainable ocean management

Meet the young geographer who is making waves in marine science and sustainable ocean management. 

The world beneath the ocean's surface remains largely unexplored and mysterious, holding secrets that are yet to be uncovered. Among the dedicated researchers striving to shed light on the deep-sea environment, Ms. Rima Browne from the Cook Islands stands out as a beacon of excellence. On 24th July 2023, she was awarded the Fourth Edition of the Award for Excellence in Deep-Sea Research by the International Seabed Authority (ISA), recognizing her remarkable contributions to mapping the seabed and advancing marine scientific knowledge. 

Ms. Browne's journey into deep-sea research began as a geographer at the Cook Islands Seabed Minerals Authority. Her expertise and dedication led to her recommendation for the prestigious ISA award, a recognition that marks her as one of the brightest young researchers globally. Her significant accomplishment has been the production of detailed geomorphology and inset maps that provide crucial insights into the marine habitat and mineral resources of the Cook Islands.  

The applications of Ms. Browne's research extend far beyond the shores of her island nation. Marine habitat management, mineral resource assessment, marine spatial planning, submarine communications infrastructure, and natural hazard risk assessments are just a few of the areas benefiting from her findings. This groundbreaking work is not only fundamental to the sustainable management of the Cook Islands but also serves as an inspiration to other young Pacific researchers, earning her a well-deserved place in the international spotlight. 

During the 28th session of the ISA Assembly, as Ms. Browne accepted her award, she expressed her gratitude to the ISA Secretary-General and the advisory committee for the honour. "The final map has come together quite well. We are pleased with what we have achieved via its application. I am so thankful to receive this prestigious Award, as it is a win not only for my country but for the Pacific region as well," she said with humility and pride. 

The recognition and support Ms. Browne received extends far beyond her homeland. Mr. Tidiani Couma, the Secretary of External Relations at the Department of External Relations and Cooperation of the Principality of Monaco, congratulated her on her achievement and reaffirmed Monaco's commitment to marine scientific research. Monaco's dedication to supporting the ISA's efforts in preserving and understanding the world's seas and oceans reflects their belief in science's crucial role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. 

The Cook Islands Prime Minister, Honourable Mark Brown, also attended the awards ceremony and said Rima’s work is an example of the new science that is emerging in our country and an indication that this is a new era of research and knowledge for our people. 


“It is like turning on a light in a dark room, building our collective knowledge and understanding. This is why science and research is critical. It sets the foundation for the future work that we need, to manage it well,” Prime Minister Brown said during his congratulatory speech.  


The ISA's Award for Excellence in Deep Sea Research holds a special place among the eight voluntary commitments registered by the ISA at the United Nations Ocean Conferences. Supported by the Principality of Monaco, this annual award encourages and promotes the work of young scientists from developing nations, recognizing their contributions to deep-sea scientific knowledge and regulatory frameworks. Past recipients, including Dr. Diva Amon from Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Mauricio Shimabukuro from Brazil, and Dr. Kirsty McQuaid from South Africa, have all left a lasting impact in their respective fields. 

Ms. Rima Browne's historic achievement is an inspiration to the Pacific scientific community and beyond. Her relentless pursuit of knowledge and commitment to sustainable ocean management have earned her a well-deserved place among the brightest minds in deep-sea research and recognises the importance of supporting young researchers and their critical work in unravelling the wonders of our oceans. The Pacific Community is proud to have supported Rima’s nomination for the Fourth Edition of the Award for Excellence in Deep-Sea Research by the International Seabed Authority (ISA). 


Ms. Browne’s award-winning research can be accessed here


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