Stacy Jupiter

Stacy Jupiter is a marine scientist from Suva, Fiji.[1] She won the MacArthur Fellowship in 2019.[2] According to Newsday, she was the only "overseas" fellow recognized in 2019.[1] Her research focuses primarily on working with the practices of local communities to develop effective strategies that conserve and protect the coastal systems [3]. She performs her work primarily in Melanesia, a Pacific region including Fiji, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea [3].

Stacy Jupiter
Born1975 (age 4344)
Known forMacArthur Fellowship
Academic background
Alma materHarvard University
University of California, Santa Cruz
Academic work
DisciplineMarine science


Jupiter attended Harvard University and received a bachelor’s degree in Biology in 1997 [4]. In 2006 Jupiter received a PhD which focused on the connections between land usage and downstream impacts from the University of California, Santa Cruz [4].

Early Life

Jupiter has loved nature from a very young age [5]. As an undergraduate, Jupiter volunteered abroad in Australia working with the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales [5].  Jupiter volunteered with the Peace Corps after college in Gabon, central Africa. This experience allowed her to gain exposure to pollution of the downstream systems and inspired her to go on to graduate school [5]. During graduate school, Jupiter attended a lecture by Dr. Peter Walsh who had previously worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). WCS appealed to Jupiter while in graduate school and she later began to work for the organization beginning as an Associate Conservation Scientist and now the Fiji Country Program Director in 2008 [4].


Back in 2009, Jupiter began to realize how harmful flooding could be as she witnessed water destroying houses and roads on the island of Fiji [2]. After some preliminary research, Jupiter realized that large floods spread many waterborne diseases. This discovery led Jupiter to ask herself if members of local communities would strive to do something if they realized their well-being was at risk [2]. Environmental advocacy became Jupiter’s mission.

Jupiter works primarily in Melanesia, an area containing much biodiversity. According to Jupiter, many people in the Pacific do not separate themselves from nature as Westerners tend to do [2]. As a result, looking for ways to conserve the environment is this area is important to her.

Although Jupiter is experienced in marine science, she knew little about the culture of Fiji upon first arriving [2]. Jupiter strives to work alongside fishermen and villagers to learn from them firsthand and collect scientific research from her observations. Many Melanesian communities use a method called tabu (a periodic closure to fishing) to manage coral reef natural resources. Working alongside villagers and observing processes such as tabu, Jupiter attempts to help local communities decide when, where, and how long to close off the areas of the reef. With this research, Jupiter believes the sustainability of thousands of tabu areas across the southwestern Pacific could be improved. Her research also links both the land and sea by considering the effects industries such as logging and mining have on coral reefs. With the help of other collaborators, Jupiter has shown how the rise of logging and mining not only have negative effects on the water quality of coral reefs, but they also increase the risk of transmitting waterborne diseases like typhoid [3].

MacArthur Fellowship Award

In 2019 Jupiter was recognized by the MacArthur Foundation for her efforts to save lives and coral reefs by building on already existing research and considering new ways to manage natural resources [2]. The MacArthur fellowships are awarded yearly by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for “extraordinary originality and dedication” [6]. This honor also comes with an award of $625,000 over five years [6]. Jupiter was one of 26 fellows chosen.

Other Work

Jupiter believes that the support of local communities is necessary before her work can be applied to marine conservation. Although Jupiter knows the language of scientists, she recognizes that members of the public do not. As a result, Jupiter has personalized her research and materials to fit her audience. One way Jupiter does this is through writing comic books. Her comic books are about fish called gobies and gudgeons who travel throughout the river and come into contact with challenges related to environmental concerns caused by human influence. She also performs puppet shows for children using these stories [2].

Jupiter also participated in a flash mob of 125 people dancing to a version of “Stayin’ Alive” [2]. This flash mob which was then posted to YouTube was meant to draw the attention of the government to enact a particular set of regulations.


  1. Gralla, Joan (September 25, 2019). "LIer a 2019 MacArthur 'genius' grant recipient". Newsday. Retrieved September 29, 2019. Marine scientist Stacy Jupiter, 43, of Suva, Fiji, was the only overseas recipient
  2. Hallett, Vicky (September 25, 2019). "'Genius' Grant Goes To Marine Scientist Who Embraces Flash Mobs And Comic Books". NPR. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  3. "Stacy Jupiter Marine Scientist Class of 2019". MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  4. "Stacy Jupiter, PHD". Living Oceans Foundation. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  5. "Member Spotlight:Stacy Jupiter". Society for Coservation Biology. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  6. Stephens, Tim (September 25, 2019). "Alumna Stacy Jupiter wins coveted MacArthur Fellowship". UC Santa Cruz. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  7. "Stacy Jupiter Marine Scientist". MacArthur Fellows Program. September 25, 2019. Retrieved November 21, 2019. Stacy Jupiter is a marine scientist

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