About Us

Reefbites is a ISRS student committee initiative, that was started in the beginning of 2018. The blog is part of the committees commitment to facilitate education, outreach and science communication of marine science; providing a platform for early career scientists to share their passions. Reefbites is also a sister site to a growing number of science blogs written by students – for students (collectively known as the ScienceBites family). Along with a number of writers and editors, who are the drivers of this blog, the blog is curated by two committee members – the editors in chief.



Sandra Schleier is from Puerto Rico and has recently graduated from her Master’s in Ecology and Ecosystem Science at the University of Rhode Island. Her research focused on Caribbean coral reef ecosystem response to Acroporid coral restoration.


Maha J. Cziesielski is a PhD student at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia. Her work focuses on temperature adaptation mechanism and symbiosis in the cnidarian model organism Exaiptasia pallida through integration of multi-omics layers.

Contributors and Editors:


Federico Vitelli is originally from Tuscany (Italy), where he grew up and did his Bachelor degree in Marine Biology at University of Pisa. I then moved to Western Australia and completed my Master degree by research at Edith Cowan University in Perth studying the diet of the herbivorous fish Parma mccullochi and its impact on the algal assemblages of the reef. After a short-term work at the Department of Parks andWildlife, I got awarded a scholarship and started a PhD at Edith Cowan University in collaboration with Curtin University under the supervision of Ass. Prof. Glenn Hyndes (ECU), Dr. Jean Paul Hobbs (Curtin), Dr. Stephen Newman (DPIRD), and Prof. Euan Harvey (Curtin). My PhD project aimed to understand causes and consequences of hybridisation in angelfish. I have now completed my PhD and I am currently working at Edith Cowan University as research assistant. At the moment, I am working on multiple research projects including seagrass and blue carbon, dugong and seagrass monitoring, and topicalization of herbivorous fish communities of Wester Australia.


Carla Elliff is an oceanographer currently finishing her doctorate degree in geology at the Universidade Federal da Bahia, Brazil. She works mainly with the ecosystem services of coral reefs and how these relate to coastal management. Carla is part of the executive committee of the Young Ecosystem Services Specialists and is also a member of the Red Proplayas and Fórum do Mar networks in Latin America. She believes science communication is the key to a more sustainable world.

3_Danielle - bio photoDanielle Moloney is a recent graduate from Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania, where she earned my Bachelor’s degree in Biology. I now live in northern New Jersey, where I work as a research associate for NYU’s School of Medicine. I am so glad to be a writer for Reefbites, where I get to explore my passion for coral reefs and all things marine biology. I am particularly interested in coral bleaching, the future of reefs under current environmental stressors, and coral reef conservation. Some of my favorite things to do include hiking and spending time at the beach. A fun fact about me is that I lived in Denmark for a few months, where I studied marine mammals and traveled through Europe. A trip to the Great Barrier Reef is on my bucket list!

4_melissaMelissa Naugle is a Masters student at the California State University, Monterey Bay where she studies how corals and their symbionts respond to thermal stress. She is especially interested in what builds thermotolerance and uses methods such as gene expression analysis to investigate her research questions. Melissa’s passion for marine ecology and coral physiology has taken her around the world.She has studied coral conservation in Thailand, coral physiology in Western Australia, and coral-algae interactions in Palau. Her experiences have focused on understanding how environmental stress affects corals and how we can work towards their conservation. In addition to her research, Melissa is active in environmental education and outreach. She has worked as a naturalist at Locust Grove Nature Center for years and enjoys showing others why environmental conservation is so important. In her free time, Melissa enjoys hiking, scuba diving, and photography.

6_gusAlexander (Gus) Fordyce finished his Masters in 2015, researching how an individual fish’s personality affects the way groups make decisions. After this, he moved to Mozambique for just under two years to manage the conservation volunteer program associated with the Marine Megafauna Foundation, designed to monitor populations of manta rays, whale sharks and other megafauna in the area. From there, he contacted his now-supervisors in Australia whom he then worked with as a research assistant for 3 months in the austral summer of 2017.  Finally, he worked for Prof. Josh Cinner as an R. A., primarily conducting statistical analysis in R. Starting his PhD in February 2018, Gus is taking an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the bioerosion of dead corals by microbial endoliths living inside coral skeletons, following mass mortality events. Combining novel uses of micro-CT scanning, oceanography and experimental physiology, he aims to highlight the potential for extreme marine heatwaves to transform reefs into rubble.

7_timbatemanTim Bateman is a PhD student at the University of Delaware in the Warner lab where he specializes in photophysiology and algal ecology. His work focuses on the impacts of climate change on the physiological dynamics of algal-invertebrate symbiosis. He works with scleractinian corals, the model anemone Exaiptasia pallida, and their Symbiodiniaceae symbionts. Tim aspires to further the understanding of the connection between symbiont photophysiology and the thermal tolerance of each partner of the symbiosis and how this will change as we move further into the Anthropocene. As an undergraduate, Tim attended the University of Connecticut where he worked in the Coastal Ocean Laboratory for Optics and Remote Sensing which introduced introduced to coral reef research.

5_SaraCannonSarah Cannon is a Ph.D. student, Vanier Scholar, and Ocean Leaders Graduate Fellow at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada (where she also recently finished my M.Sc.). I grew up on the Chesapeake Bay in rural Maryland, and water has always been an important part of my life. My parents were avid scuba divers and I was exposed to the underwater world at a very young age. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a marine scientist. Before moving to Vancouver, I lived for five years in Santa Cruz, California, where I obtained a Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. My research interests involve attempting to understand the ways that people and various marine management frameworks affect the health of coral reefs and how local threats interact with global threats like climate change to impact coral reef resilience.


Abigail Engleman is a Doctoral Candidate at Florida State University, whereshe uses 3D technology to transform how we research and communicate marine conservation. Her dissertation research proposes new methods for coral restoration, using 3D modeling and 3D printing to design artificial substrates that can offset anthropogenic (human-generated) reef degradation. Though a Washington, D.C. native, Engleman has always been fascinated by marine ecosystems, which remain hidden in plain sight. She earned a B.S. in Marine Science, with a focus in Environmental Science, from the University of South Carolina. Seeking to understand oceans on a global scale, Engleman expanded her education far beyond the South Carolina classrooms— studying in Australia and Indonesia while earning her degree. Her graduate education then brought her to Carrie Bow Cay, Belize, where she conducts her dissertation research. For more information, visit www.3d-sea.org, or follow @3D.Sea on Instagram.

img_1306Lynn Bonomo is a second year Master’s student in the Gosliner Slug Lab at the California Academy of Sciences. I am currently attending San Francisco State University while pursuing a M.S. in Marine Biology. Previously, I attended George Mason University for a BS in Biology with a concentration in Ecology and Conservation and Colorado State University for a BM in Music Performance on bassoon. Drastically different, I know! I enjoy SCUBA diving and snorkeling, music, and books. My current research project is looking at the biodiversity of the Indo-Pacific nudibranch genus, Goniobranchus. I am making a molecular phylogeny based on three genes (H3, CO1, and 16s) for the genus and will be comparing morphology of these nudibranchs to determine how many species there are. I am looking specifically at three subgroups of Goniobranchus: the red-reticulate species complex, the lifters, and the flappers.

landerson_photoLouise Anderson is a PhD student at the University of Leeds in the UK, and my research takes a functional ecology perspective to considering coral reef resilience. Essentially, I am interested in what roles the different groups of species on a reef are performing, and in turn what that means for protecting them. This interest in marine ecology and its applications developed through my Biology BSc and Masters’ in International Marine Environmental Consultancy, both at Newcastle University. I also enjoy science communication and outreach, both through writing for ReefBites and by working as an Education Outreach Fellow at University of Leeds, where I get to discuss the process of research more broadly. When I’m not underwater, I like to get underground, spending my weekends caving in the Yorkshire Dales.

20170620_165041Dr. David Weinstein aspires to improve our understanding of coral reef sedimentology and to educate the public and new scientists about mesophotic coral reefs. He is also interested in studying coastal erosion and sea-level fluctuations. His PhD, from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, was entitled Deep reef bioerosion and deposition: Sedimentology of mesophotic coral reefs in the U.S. Virgin Islands. His research provided one of the first in-depth analyses of the structural foundation of deeper coral reefs (called mesophotic reefs), allowing for estimates of their sustained health and past and future growth potential. This is especially important as these reefs are considered potential refugia for species from their endangered shallow-water counterparts. After his doctoral studies, David did postdoctoral work at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan, where he analyzed mesophotic coral reef recovery after major typhoon damage, as well as studied sedimentary characteristics of these deep systems. In Israel, David currently is a Zuckerman Postdoctoral Scholar in Eilat, Israel, studying the evolution, geomorphology, and accretion of submerged fossil terraces and mesophotic coral rubble fields in the Gulf of Aqaba, which form the basis for the Israel’s critical modern mesophotic coral reef ecosystems.


Brad Weiler   

I am a Canadian graduate student currently working on my Ph.D. at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. The work for my Ph.D. is focusing on coral disease and the microbial members that interact with and may have a negative impact on the coral holobiont. Recently a new epizootic has devastated the Florida Atlantic coast and has reached several islands in the Caribbean, decimating coral populations. My M.Sc. research involved a metagenomic characterization of the bacterial associates within two cold-water coral species. I have been studying coral reef ecosystems for several years now having researched in The Bahamas surveying health of the local reefs after the recent global bleaching event. Marine biology wasn’t always my career goal, as I started off getting my carpentry apprenticeship in Canada. It wasn’t until attending university did I realize how poorly our oceans are actually being protected and how little we actually know of them. I have set out to help better our understanding of the intricacies of marine ecosystems in hopes to contribute to better coral reef management and ocean conservation.

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