Fabia Simona

PhD Students


I am trained as a human physiologist (M.Sc.), graduated in 2014 from the University of Zurich (UZH), Switzerland. During my master project, I extensively studied the maintenance of calcium and phosphate homeostasis in the organism. In particular, I focused on the function and regulation of receptors and transport proteins at the cellular and physiological level.
The motivation to dedicate my scientific curiosity to a project in coral reef biology emerged after graduation, when my scuba diving passion brought me to volunteer at an Indonesian NGO on a coral reef restoration project based on the Biorock technology. Thanks to this experience, I aimed to combine my knowhow in molecular biology and passion for marine life into a doctoral project.

Research Interests

Protein expression in coral-dinoflagellate symbiosis; Proteomics

Coral reefs represent the most diverse marine ecosystems and rely upon the mutualistic symbiosis between a hosting coral and its intracellular, photosynthetic dinoflagellate. Photosynthesis-derived nutrients allow the coral to thrive in oligotrophic waters, while the disruption of this symbiotic association leads to coral bleaching. Despite the extensive study of the coral reef ecology, little is known about the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the coral-algal symbiosis. In this context, my PhD project aims to identify the molecular machinery that regulates establishment, maintenance and disruption of this association. To this end, I use the sea anemone Aiptasia pallida as model organism and various techniques that range from recombinant protein expression to targeted proteomics and binding assays.