Celebrating a scientific powerhouse

Ellen Kenchington is honoured with ICES Outstanding Achievement Award as the Annual Science Conference opens in Bilbao, Spain.
Published: 11 September 2023

​​​Ellen Kenchington, Senior Research Scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is an international authority in benthic ecology and genomics. Her innovative work on the identification and protection of vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems has been crucial for development of ecosystem-based management and protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems – and she has been described by colleagues as a steward for the sustainability of deep-sea benthic ecosystem.

Ellen describes the most rewarding work she has been involved with is that which has been used to make a difference, with multidisciplinary team tackling difficult challenges. Her vision and ability to connect science and policy, producing fundamental and applicable research and protocols to support the decision-makers based on robust science has been highlighted by many of her international collaborators. Many have pointed out that our knowledge and vision of the deep sea today would not be the same without the important contributions from Ellen in benthic ecology, population genetics, impacts of fishing and climate change in benthic communities, and many more fields.

Alongside being a scientific leader, Ellen also has a reputation for being a kind and supportive
 mentor with an innate talent for fostering a collaborative and inclusive environment, empowering others to reach their full potential and achieve outstanding results. Ellen has welcomed, supported, mentored and encouraged newcomers to ICES community. She is recognized throughout the community for her kindness and respect for others.​“To have a kind leader makes working on a team a joy rather than a job", commented one of her nominators, “Ellen is a role model - the kind of researcher, colleague, and mentor we should all strive to be".


Ellen's first role with ICES was in 1995 when she represented Canada in the Working Group on the Application of Genetics to Fisheries and Mariculture (WGAGFM). 

Since then, she has been an active member and chair of many groups including​ the Working Group on the Ecosystem Effects of Fishing Activities (WGECO), the Joint ICES/NAFO Working Group on Deep Water Ecology (WGDEC), the Working Group on Fisheries Benthic Impact and Trade-offs (WGFBIT),  WKTOPS, the Workshop on EU regulatory area options for VME protection (WKEUVME) and Study Group on Designing Marine Protected Area Networks in a Changing Climate (SGNAM​​​PAN).

Additionally, she has contributed to drafting and review of ICES Advice in many areas including the impact of climate change, deep sea closed-protected areas, monitoring of biological effects, ecosystem effects, wet renewables, sandeels, and the interaction between wild and captured fish stocks.

Ellen is a champion for ICES and has often emphasized that being a member of ICES community has made her a better scientist, a better person, has improved her scientific advice and increased her job satisfaction.

Her impressive level of commitment to the Science Committee (SCICOM) and ICES network has not gone unnoticed by her colleagues who have been inspired by her knowledge and dedication both as a researcher and a leader.

This was reflected in her acceptance speech, as she expressed her gratitude to those colleagues that nominated her and further commented that she feels humbled in receiving the award and thankful for all the opportunities that ICES has provided her throughout her career.

Honouring leaders

ICES Outstanding Achievement Awards recognizes outstanding performance by a member of the community whose career has been distinguished by a continued commitment to excellence in science, research, and leadership. “Ellen is the very essence of the Outstanding Achievement Award", noted one colleague that nominated her: a productive and impactful scientist and researcher with sustained leadership at multiple levels of the organization. 

From everyone in ICES community, we say congratulations Ellen and thank you for your continued work!  ​



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​Ellen ​Kenchington, Canada, is honoured at ICES Annual Science Conference 2023 with the Outstanding Achievement Award. Ellen is pictured here with Carl O'Brien, Chair of ICES Awards Committee.

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Celebrating a scientific powerhouse

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