Marine Research Foundation Core Team

Dr. Nicolas J Pilcher

Executive Director

August 2013 – Present

Mrs. Carmen Leong Pilcher

Office Manager

August 2013 – Present

March 2017 – Present

January 2018 to present


May 2019 to present

The Marine Research Foundation is a non-profit research foundation based in Sabah, Malaysia and incorporated under the Trustees (Incorporation) Act 1951 Cap. 148. MRF was set up to further the understanding of marine ecosystems and functions, and conserve the abundance and diversity of marine flora and fauna through research, conservation and education activities.

Meet Dr. Nicolas Pilcher

sm_picThe Foundation’s Executive Director, Dr. Nicolas Pilcher has been involved in the Indo-Pacific region for twenty five years, and has working experience in Palau, Australia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines and Indonesia, in addition to lengthy projects in the Maldives, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman and Iran. Working with local communities and a broad cross-section of projects from pure research to management plan development and management-oriented solution finding, have provided a breadth of experience in habitat and species conservation, community needs, pure and management-aimed research, and marine protected area management. He has a PhD in marine turtle conservation and is a past president of the International Sea Turtle Society. He is also on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Chelonian Conservation and Biology and the Marine Turtle Newsletter, and is was the Co-Chair of the IUCN SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group from 2003 to 2015.

Read about what MRF does and where

The Marine Research Foundation carries out a number of projects related to biodiversity assessment and conservation, providing management-oriented solutions to Government administrations and conservationists. Some examples of MRF’s project include working in partnership with the Department of Fisheries Malaysia to develop sustainable fishery practices and reduce bycatch in shrimp fisheries; working with TRAFFIC, Conservation International and WWF to develop tri-national approaches to seascape-level conservation, including the design of a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) and reduction of poaching of sea turtles by Chinese and Vietnamese vessels; conducting aerial surveys for sea turtles in Palawan (Philippines); using laparoscopy to determine gender ratios of turtles on foraging grounds, and link these to management practices at hatcheries; working in the Middle East to investigate impacts of climate change on sea turtles; working with local communities in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea to conserve critically endangered leatherback turtles; working with the CMS Dugong Secretariat to implement a GEF dugong conservation project across 8 nations in the Indo-Pacific; and a suite of other smaller initiatives. In the past MRF has worked with UNDP in Eritrea to develop a turtle conservation agenda and National Action Plan which focused on development of fisheries and coastal infrastructure while considering marine turtles as integral components of coastal ecosystems; working with the Ministry of Environment in Qatar to develop a comprehensive research programme and conduct status reviews for turtles along its shores and territorial seas; assisting WWF in Vietnam with training aimed at management interactions and conservation practices, and in deploying satellite transmitters to determine turtles’ offshore migration paths; implementing training courses for staff and management in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs in the Sultanate of Oman; working with Sabah Parks in Malaysia to determine population dynamics of the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle, and on hatchling mortality in nearshore waters; working with the Department of Fisheries to trial turtle-friendly fishing gears in Sabah.

What We Do

  • Research and Conservation
  • Education and Awareness
  • Marine Turtle Programme
  • Fisheries & Bycatch
  • Management-Oriented Science
  • Nature-Based Solutions