Photo: P. Berwick
In 1991 Sister Avelin Mary founded SHMRC as an independent non-profit organization for the purpose of marine research and conservation. Among its programs include discovery of marine natural products with biomedical and industrial applications. Her specific interest is in the replacement of toxic chemicals affecting the ocean environment with alternative compounds from natural sources that may have similar functional properties without the toxic effects on other marine organisms.
Sister Avelin Mary currently runs SHMRC on a full time basis. Previously, she was principal of Saint Mary’s College, a Catholic institution for higher education for women in Tuticorin, a coastal city in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu, founded in 1948 by the Servants of Mary.
Sister Avelin received her Ph.D. in marine biology from Marathwada University (Aurangabad, India) and continued her postdoctoral work at New York Zoological Society (Osborn Laboratories). She was a visiting scientist in a number of institutions, including Tulane University, Duke University, University of Delaware, University of Hawaii and Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan.
She was fascinated with research on the biology of barnacle and went on to discover that several soft corals of the Indian Ocean contained natural inhibitors that influence the attachment of barnacles. Of these, Juncella juncea contained the most potent compounds that prevented settlement of barnacles on surfaces. This compound is called juncelin, a combination of Juncella and Avelin in honour of its’ discoverer.
Sister Avelin has also been featured in India Today Magazine. To view the magazine article, click here.
Sister Avelin has been conferred two of India’s most prestigious national awards. To view the press release, click here.