People

Christian R Voolstra

Principal Investigator
Associate Professor

Introduction

I have been appointed Assistant Professor of Marine Science at KAUST and resumed my duties in August 2009. KAUST is an awesome opportunity to do marine research for many reasons: 1) top-notch labs right next to coral reefs, 2) access to Red Sea has been and still is limited, however, it provides a treasure chest for all kinds of studies, and 3) where else in the world do you have the means and money to do whatever research you are dreaming of...

Prior to joining KAUST, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, USA in the research group of Professor Monica Medina and worked on Coral Reef Genomics. I earned my doctoral degree from the Institute of Genetics at the University of Cologne where I worked on evolution of gene expression differences in mice in the lab of Diethard Tautz. I got my master’s degree from the University of Cologne where I was studying developmental differences between sister species of the fruit fly.

I am an evolutionary biologist by heart and do my best to think outside the box and project the big picture by applying whatever techniques are available or by the development of new methods.

Research Interests

Dr. Voolstra’s research interests are in Evolutionary Genomics and Systems Biology of coral reefs. Coral reefs represent one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. They are, however, extremely fragile and endangered due to human imposed exploitation, pollution, and global warming. An Evolutionary Genomics and Systems Biology approach can add to our understanding of reef ecology and conservation efforts. Dr Voolstra intends to focus on the following research topics:
  • The role of adaptive evolution and coral-specific genes in molecular mechanisms of bleaching and stress.
  • The molecular machinery of mutualism between corals and algae
  • The role of prokaryotes in these processes.
Furthermore, Dr. Voolstra is interested in Biomineralization, Cancer, Ageing, Population Genetics/Genomics, and Genome-wide association studies (GWAS). Dr. Voolstra is an evolutionary biologist by heart that is interested in the big picture by applying whatever techniques are available or by the development of new methods in order to advance research

Selected Publications

Education

  • Ph.D, Institute for Genetics, University of Cologne, Germany, 2006
  • Diploma, Institute for Genetics, University of Cologne, Germany, 2001

Scientific and Professional Memberships

  • AAAS American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • ISRS International Society for Reef Studies
  • ISME International Society for Microbial Ecology
  • ESEB European Society for Evolutionary Biology
  • VdBiol Association of German Biologists

Awards

  • FIC Faculty Initiated Collaboration Award: ‘The genetic basis of obesity/diabetes in the Saudi population’, KAUST, 2010
  • AEA Collaborative Research Program Award: ‘The genome sequence of the dinoflagellate Symbiodinium sp., a symbiont from Red Sea corals’, KAUST, 2010
  • Seed Fund Grant Awardee: ‘The Red Sea Biogeographic Information System (RBIS)', KAUST, 2010
  • CTF Collaborative Travel Fund Award: ‘A Bayesian Regression approach to the modeling of gene expression data’, KAUST, 2010
  • Best Poster Award, IEDG: Integrating Evolution, Development and Genomics, UC Berkeley, USA, 2008
  • Travel Award, IEDG: Integrating Evolution, Development and Genomics, UC Berkeley, USA, 2008
  • Recipient of Student Award for Genetics, University of Cologne, Germany, 2000
  • DAAD Travel Grant, 1999

KAUST Affiliations

http://rsrc.kaust.edu.sa