Former Director of the Australian Museum Professor Frank Talbot AM has been awarded the Australian Museum Research Institute's (AMRI) Lifetime Achievement Award.

(Tuesday 5 July, Sydney): An internationally renowned museum director, advocate for science, and founder of the Australian Museum’s Lizard Island Research Station, Professor Frank Talbot AM’s distinguished career will be celebrated tonight when he is presented the 2016 AMRI Lifetime Achievement Award.

The AMRI Award – which recognises outstanding achievements in advancing public knowledge, communication and understanding of science – will be presented to Dr Talbot during an ‘in-conversation’ presentation with current Director and CEO of the Australian Museum, Kim McKay AO.

“Frank is a living legend of the global museum community – in addition to being a former director of the Australian Museum, he is the only Australian to have been Director of the prestigious Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C." McKay said.

"Throughout his life he has been a true advocate of science, and has left a lasting legacy for both the Australian Museum and the wider community by establishing the Lizard Island Research Station on the Great Barrier Reef.”

Born in South Africa, Dr Talbot came to Australia in 1964 to take up the role of Curator of Fishes at the Australian Museum, a position that further ignited his passion for the Reef.

“I’d been fascinated with coral reefs since I was a teenager and the Great Barrier Reef just blew my mind. I found I loved Australia, I loved the staff at the Australian Museum and I was able to study the reefs as well,” he said.

Dr Talbot worked with philanthropists and governments to fund what is now the Australian Museum’s Lizard Island Research Station on the Reef, which provides world-class facilities for scientists from around the world.

Since 1973, the Australian Museum’s Lizard Island Research Station has produced over 2,000 publications, and supports more than 100 research projects by 350 researchers every year.

Dr Talbot was also founding chair of the Sydney’s Institute of Marine Science, one of the world’s leading marine research centres, and now serves on the Board of their Foundation. He was also Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, founding professor of Environmental Studies at Macquarie University and a former Chairman of the Taronga Zoo Board and the North American Association of Science Museum Directors.

McKay said that Dr Talbot had inspired people around the world with “his passion for science, his leadership, vision and his track record as both a museum administrator and a researcher.”

Dr Talbot, now 86, continues his love of the sea, regularly sailing his boat, which is moored at the bottom of his property on Sydney Harbour. He said he was honoured to receive the AMRI Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I have been extraordinarily lucky in my life to have spent it doing what I love – studying fish and reefs. This award means a lot at me, coming as it does from an institution that I am proud to have served,” Dr Talbot said.

The inaugural AMRI Address was delivered in 2014 by former Australian of the Year and former Australian Museum Research Scientist, Professor Tim Flannery. Last year the recipient was ABC broadcaster, Robyn Williams.