Nelly Isigi Kadagi, Ph.D. - New England Aquarium
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Nelly Isigi Kadagi

Nelly Isigi Kadagi, Ph.D.

2019 Marine Conservation Action Fund (MCAF) Fellow
Director, WWF’s Russell E. Train Education for Nature Program


Isigi Kadagi (Nelly) is a fisheries scientist, educator and conservation leader who works at the intersection of policy and science. She has diverse experience working with fishing sectors (commercial, artisanal and recreational) and other stakeholders along the Kenya coast and the Indian Ocean region.

Her work has primarily focused on understanding sources of fisheries conflicts and improving the quality of fisheries data collection, analysis, and reporting, particularly on large pelagic fish species such as billfish. Nelly completed her Doctoral degree at the University of Florida, where her dissertation evaluated the socio-ecological implications of recreational and artisanal fisheries on billfish in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region. Nelly’s pioneer work on billfish also includes the deployment of the first-ever Pop-up Satellite Tags (PSAT) on marlin of the East Coast of Africa. She has also worked for UN/FAO-IOTC as a consultant on a project to improve data collection from sport fisheries in Kenya, Seychelles, La Reunion, and Mauritius.

Nelly is a recipient of several local, regional and international awards and fellowships. Besides her leading role in advancing pelagic research, Nelly continues to work on initiatives that strengthen capacity building, especially for early-career scientists in her home country Kenya and regionally.

Learn more about World Wildlife Fund.


Large pelagic fisherie (billfish) resaerch, sea turtle research, fisheries conflicts, governance and policy, Africa blue economy, conservation leadership, capacity building for early career scientists, science communication; fundraising and grant writing, public speaking

Awards and Fellowships

2019 Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA)-MASMA Grant
2018 Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) Travel Grant
2018 WWF-Education for Nature Alumni Travel Grant
2016–2018 Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future PhD Fellowship
2016–2018 International Women Fishing Association (IWFA) Research Grant/ Presidential Challenge Charitable Foundation
2017 University of Florida Alec Courtellis Award for Outstanding Student
2017 Association of American University Women in Science (AAUW) Fellowship
2016–2017 UN-FAO/ Indian Ocean Tuna Commission Regional Consultancy work
2015–2016 WWF -Education for Nature Ph.D. Fellowship
2013 Conservation Leadership Program Travel Grant
2012 Marlin satellite tags sponsorship from International Game Fish Association
2011 6th World Recreational Fisheries Travel Award
2011 Future Conservation Award by Conservation Leadership Program



Marine Conservation Action Fund

Ensuring conservation leaders around the globe have the financial and professional resources to achieve key ocean conservation gains and the platform to amplify their work.