Australia’s top coral expert has been acknowledged for his courage in promoting science.

Terry Hughes, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and a world leading expert on the Great Barrier Reef, has been awarded the 2018 John Maddox Prize.

Prof Hughes was recognised for his tireless and courageous efforts in communicating research evidence on coral reef bleaching to the public and for tackling the misrepresentation of coral reef science.

In doing so, he has experienced hostility from politicians, public figures and the Australian tourist industry.

In the face of efforts to discredit his research, personal criticism and smears in the media, Prof Hughes redoubled his efforts to communicate with the widest possible audience, using diverse means and reaching mainstream media around the world.

The John Maddox Prize, now in its seventh year, is a joint initiative of the charity Sense about Science and the leading international scientific journal Nature.

“It is a privilege to receive this prize and to express my gratitude - not just for me, but more importantly for future generations, who have the most to lose if we fail to act on anthropogenic climate change,” Prof Hughes said.