Prior to my arrival at KAUST in February 2012, I completed my graduate degrees at the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science. Under Drs.Pam Hollock-Muller (MS) and Mya Breitbart (PhD), I began in reef ecology using foraminifera as a proxy for corals to determine reef condition, and transitioned into using molecular techniques to explore microbial communities associated with corals and comb jellies.
My postdoctoral work involves the application of next generation sequencing to address functional questions in coral reef ecosystems. White Plague Disease (WPD) is of interest, as the putative bacterial pathogen, Aurantimonas coralicida, has not been detected in recent studies, and is known infect in over 40+ coral species. Rather than a pathogen or microbe focused approach, I’m interested in the underlying gene expression patterns of the entire coral holobiont (i.e. coral, photosynthetic algae, and bacteria) in healthy and diseased states.
A second project will focus on how mobile genetic elements might influence coral larvae settlement and I’m hoping to branch out to explore viral diversity here in the Red Sea.