Team

Matthieu Leray, PhD.

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

I am a researcher at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. Using both broad-scale environmental sampling and experimental manipulations of small scale model systems, I focus in particular on the following three questions:

  • What are the nature and causes of biodiversity patterns in the ocean?
  • How do these biodiversity patterns influence ecosystem function?
  • How do ecological interactions (i.e., trophic and symbiotic) promote the stability and resilience of marine communities?
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Diana P. López, NSF Ocean Sciences Postdoctoral Researcher

Florida State University & Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

My current research focuses on determining the metabolic and related physiological responses of corals to acute thermal stress in combination with salinity fluctuations. I am also interested in parsing out differences in thermal sensitivity between Pocillopora “species” from across the TEP. I enjoy mentoring students from underrepresented minorities in STEM and leveraging my native language, Spanish, to mentor Latino students in Panama. I received my PhD from Temple University, a masters in Environmental Studies from Florida International University, and an undergraduate degree in Biological Science from Florida Atlantic University.

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Laura F.B.  Marangoni, Postdoctoral Researcher

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

I am a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), and my research focuses on the physiological and biochemical aspects related to the process of coral bleaching. I am currently contributing to a large-scale program (the Rohr Reef Resilience program) to investigate the potential drivers and mechanisms of Tropical Eastern Pacific coral reef resilience, and developing improved strategies to be applied in reef restoration programs based on coral nutrition.

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Carrie Sims, Postdoctoral Researche

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

My research focuses on how early life history stages of corals mediate successful establishment of coral larvae and thereby influence coral community structure, work with important implications for species coexistence on coral reefs. I am also complementing this work with analysis of photomosaics from the Rohr Reef Resilience project, utilizing modern advances in photogrammetry and automated AI analysis to monitor coral community structure over space and time.

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Thais Lemos Quintão, PhD. Candidate

Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo

I am a Brazilian PhD student conducting research on cryptobenthic fishes. I am interested in understanding how miniaturization has affected taxonomic diversification and trophic ecology. I am also focused on using environmental DNA analyses to detect cryptobenthic species.

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Helio Quintero, BSc.

Universitad de Panamá

I am a Panamanian marine biologist and STRI fellow. I consider myself a naturalist with a lot of curiosity about the natural world and its interactions. For my research I track the endangered and endemic sharks and rays of the Eastern Tropical Pacific of Panama and Costa Rica, mapping their diversity and distribution through environmental DNA. I am interested in the conservation, ecology and evolutionary history of marine and aquatic organisms and how they relate to each other and to our societies on the eve of highly changing times.

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Laura Lardinois, PhD. Candidate

McGill University & Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

I am fascinated by the trillions of microbes; including bacteria, archaea, viruses, and fungi, that grow on and inside living organisms, forming their microbiome. My research revolves around marine microbiomes and how they – in tandem with their animal hosts – can survive and adapt to both natural and anthropogenic environmental change. My research leverages the seasonal upwelling in the Tropical Eastern Pacific and transisthmian sister species pairs to investigate host-microbiome responses to changing environments across seasonal and evolutionary time scales.

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Maria Alejandra Chacón, MSc.

Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

I am a microbial ecologist who specializes in research on the role of diverse and poorly known coral associated microbes. In my research, I have encountered challenges in isolating many of the microorganisms that live in association with corals when using traditional culturing methods. As a result, I develop innovative techniques to uncover and manipulate the ‘dark matter’ of the coral microbiome. I use these powerful approaches to develop consortia of beneficial microbes that can be used to enhance the resilience of corals exposed to stressors.

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Natasha Hinojosa, PhD. Candidate

University of California at Santa Cruz & Smithsonian Tropical Research

I am fascinated by morphological diversity and its functions; my doctorate looks at reef fish feeding traits and how they adapt in different environments. I am answering my research question in the Republic of Panama by comparing the feeding morphology and digestive physiology in transisthmian reef fish sister species (sister species found on either side of the Isthmus). One of my main goals throughout my scientific career is to promote art and photography as main methods of scientific communication.

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Hannah Sima Rempel, PhD. Candidate

University of Texas, Austin & Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

My current research focuses on how the ecosystem roles of herbivorous fishes vary in response to local-scale human stressors. My work integrates field-based research with lab-based DNA metabarcoding, compound-specific stable isotope analysis, and ecotoxicology approaches. My broader scientific interests are in studying the ecological roles and interactions of marine organisms, how they change in response to human impacts, and how this may alter ecosystem services these organisms provide to coastal communities.

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Teresa Villalaz, MSc.

Université Paris Saclay – AgroParisTech

I am a panamanian animal biologist, interested in physiology, behavior and conservation. My research focuses on characterizing the diversity of marine vertebrates in the Tropical Eastern Pacific of Panama using analyses of environmental DNA in seawater.

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Olivier Collard, MSc.

Université de Liège

I am a graduate masters student in oceanography from the University of Liège (Belgium) who is fascinated by coral ecology. I am currently studying the influence of upwelling on the Symbiodiniaceae community of the coral Pocillopora spp. I work particularly on identifying the endosymbiont community through sequencing and observing their dynamics throughout the upwelling and wet season of the Pacific coast of Panama.

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Angelica E. Estrada, BSc. Student

Universidad Latina de Panamá

Among my interests are the study of species of marine origin, the understanding of symbiotic relationships between organisms, as well as the development of possible techniques for the preservation and restoration of species and habitats affected by anthropogenic activities or climate change.

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Carlos Murillo, BSc. Student

Universidad de Panamá

I am a Panamanian undergraduate student in Biology studying fish community diversity patterns along coral reef ecosystems of the Tropical Eastern Pacific of Panama using environmental DNA analyses.  I am focused on understanding how fish communities might adapt to seasonal upwelling and non-upwelling natural phenomena and their effects on coral reefs’ resilience.

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Maria Andrea Lacayo, BSc. Student

Universidad Latina de Panamá

I am an undergraduate biotechnology student with extensive understanding in molecular and synthetic biology, with a passion for science communication and arts. My course work revolves around biosensing and toxicology in elasmobranchs from the TEP.  I am currently working on mapping the distribution and ecology of sharks using environmental DNA, alongside the eCSI team. I enjoy creating vlogs about laboratory and field work, as well as discussing different perspectives with my peers.

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Nardi de la Torre, BSc.

Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ)

As a STRI intern, my research focuses on alpha and beta diversity patterns in Pocillopora coral microbiomes, and I am particularly interested in the relationship between coral microbial communities and reef resilience. I also have a strong side interest in ecological interactions and fish behavior.

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Rodnyel Arosemena, BSc.

Universidad Marítima Internacional de Panamá

Studies in which I have been a part include the resilience of coral reefs in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, the distribution and ecology of sharks in Panama, and changes in the trophic level of species separated by the Isthmus of Panama. I am interested in studying how species in reef ecosystems (corals, fish, etc.) adapt and respond to environmental changes.

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E. Catalina Rodríguez Guerra, BSc.

Universidad de Cundinamarca

I am especially interested in studying the different environmental stressors that affect corals and their symbiotic algae in the Eastern Tropical Pacific and the Panamanian Caribbean. Through experiments in controlled environments and ecotoxicological analyses, I seek to understand how corals cope with environmental challenges and anthropogenic stressors. I am also interested in exploring how nutritional supplements (“Superfoods”) can increase the resilience of corals in order to conserve the fragile and valuable coastal ecosystems they form.

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Yaliana Chichaco, BSc. Student

Universidad Marítima Internacional de Panamá

I am an undergraduate student and STRI intern studying shark genetics and conservation in the Tropical Eastern Pacific of Panama. I am primarily interested in using molecular tools to understand the population structure of endangered marine species such as sawfishes and tiger sharks. My objective is to conduct research that contributes to the conservation and management of these species by identifying important habitats, migration patterns, and potential threats they may face in the Pacific region of Panama.

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Benoît Salamin, BSc. Student

University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland (HES-SO)

I am an undergraduate student interested in the mechanisms of symbiosis between corals and pathogenic or beneficial microorganisms (bacteria, fungi…). In particular, I am interested in understanding the effect of the biotic and abiotic context on the nature of these interactions. My research focuses on how overfished sea cucumbers, well-known bioremediators on coral reefs and adjacent habitats, affect the immune system of corals and how these changes in immunity can influence the outcome of coral-microbe interactions.

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Maria Alejandra Sánchez, BSc.

University of Panama

I am a Panamanian Marine Biologist, interested in applying high throughput molecular techniques to understand the dynamics of biotic interactions in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. I am especially interested in the settlement of introduced species and the impact of trophic interactions on the development of benthic communities in tropical marine ecosystems.

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Leia Zhao, BSc.

University of Cambridge

Hello! My research focuses on using DNA metabarcoding to detect potential dietary shifts in herbivorous reef fishes during upwelling in the Tropical Eastern Pacific. This can provide valuable insights on how they regulate reef dynamics by controlling macroalgae abundance throughout the year. I’m especially interested in using DNA based techniques to investigate and find solutions for ecosystems threatened by global change.

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Javiera Mora, BSc. Student

Universidad de Panamá

I am an undergraduate student and I am studying the diet composition of two pairs of sister species of coral reef fish and the influence of environmental parameters on it, after the rise of the Isthmus of Panama. I am very interested in knowing their dietary plasticity and when I finish my degree I would like to study a PhD related to this topic.

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Caitlin McNally, BSc.

Brown University

As an intern at STRI, I work with Laura Lardinois on how the microbiome of coral reef fish respond to changing environments. I am particularly excited by the emerging field of ocean biogeochemistry, focusing on how biologically crucial elements cycle through oceans. Outside of the lab, I am interested in utilizing scientific findings to develop effective environmental policy to protect our oceans.

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Lucía Morales, BSc. Student

Universidad Marítima Internacional de Panamá

I am a undergraduate student from the International Maritime University of Panamá currently focusing on the evolution of feeding characters in reef fishes – such as angelfish, damselfish, surgeonfish, butterflyfish, groupers, among others. In this research project, I conduct dissections and take morphometric data. I also have a strong interest in fish physiology and underwater bioacoustics to learn how natural and anthropogenic sounds affect the abundance and proliferation of coral reefs and reef fish.

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Marcelo Merten Cruz, PhD.

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

As a collaborator of STRI, my work revolves around integrating modern molecular tools with real-life conservation needs to inform policy decisions. Given the pressing issue of climate change, my main research objective is to closely monitor changes in biodiversity composition and distributions.

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Tom Adam

University of California, Santa Barbara

Community Ecology

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Andrew H Altieri

University of Florida, USA

Marine Ecology and Conservation

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Juan Jose Alvarado Barrientos

Universidad de Costa Rica, Costa Rica

Coral Reef Ecology

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Arthur Anker

Universidade Federal de Gois, Brasil

Evolution and Systematics of Malacostraca

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David M Baker

University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Coral Biogeochemistry

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Rowan Barrett

McGill University, Canada

Ecological Genomics

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Ricardo Beldade

Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Chile

Global Change Ecology

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Moises A Bernal

Auburn University, USA

Fish Ecology and Evolution

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Giacomo Bernardi

University of California Santa Cruz, USA

Molecular Ecology & Evolution of Fishes

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Simon J Brandl

University of Texas at Austin, USA

Fish & Functions

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Deron Burkepile

University of California, Santa Barbara

Community Ecology

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Jordan Casey

University of Texas at Austin, USA

Marine Trophic Ecology

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Friederike Clever

Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

Coral Reef Fish Ecology and Genetics

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Michael Connelly

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, USA

Coral systematics, symbiosis & holobiont evolution

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Sean R Connolly

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama

Marine Biodiversity, Theoretical and Statistical Modelling in Ecology

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Adrienne MS Correa

University of California Berkeley, USA

Global Change Microbial Ecology, Coral Reef Symbioses, Environmental Virology

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Jonathan D Cybulski

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama

Historical Ecology

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Nicolas N Duprey

Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Germany

Coral Reef Biogeochemistry

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Jonathan A Eisen

University of California Davis, USA

Ecology, Evolution and Function of Microbes and Microbial Communities

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Cindy Fernandez-Garcia

Universidad de Costa Rica, Costa Rica

Systematics and Ecology of Marine Macroalgae

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Alan D Foreman

Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Germany

Climate Geochemistry

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Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley

Central Caribbean Marine Institute, UK

Reef Ecology and Evolution

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Martin Helmkampf

Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, Germany

Fish Ecology and Evolution

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Kristin M Hultgren

Seattle University, USA

Ecology and Evolution of Marine Invertebrates

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Carla Hurt

Tennessee Tech University, USA

Molecular Ecology

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Maggie D Johnson

King Abdullah Univ of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia

Global Change Ecology

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Inti Keith

Charles Darwin Foundation

Marine Invasion

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Nicole S Knight

McGill University, Canada

Marine Species Interactions

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Nancy Knowlton

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, USA

Evolution and Systematics of Coral Reef Organisms

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Brian Leung

McGill University, Canada

Large-Scale Ecological Predictions

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Oren Levy

Bar Ilan University, Israel

Mechanism of Circadian Rhythms in Cnidarian’

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Ryuji J Machida

Academia Sinica, Taiwan

Marine Biodiversity and Metagenomics

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W Owen McMillan

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama

Molecular Genetics and Genomics

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Rita S Mehta

University of California Santa Cruz, USA

Morphological and Functional Innovation

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Marcelo Merten Cruz

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Marine Conservation and Environmental DNA

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Mohammad Moniruzzaman

University of Miami, USA

Community Ecology

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Aaron O’dea

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama

Historical Changes on Coral Reefs

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Karen J Osborn

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, USA

Evolutionary biology of deep, pelagic invertebrates

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Paula Pappalardo

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, USA

Marine Diversity Patterns and Larval Development

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Gustav Paulay

Florida Museum of Natural History, USA

Marine Invertebrate Systematics and Evolution

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Oscar Puebla

Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, Germany

Fish Ecology and Evolution

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Douglas Rasher

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, USA

Community Ecology

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Olivia K Rhoades

University of British Colombia, Canada

Marine Diversity and Ecosystem Function

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Heloise Rouzé

University of Guam, USA

Marine Environmental Microbiology

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Jarrod J Scott

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama

Microbial Ecology

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Brian Sedio

University of Texas at Austin, USA

Plant Chemical Ecology and Evolution

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Andrew J Sellers

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama

Tropical Intertidal Ecology and Biological Invasions

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Mark E Torchin

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama

Invasion Biology and Disease Ecology

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Claire B Tracy

Auburn University, USA

Genomic Adaptation and Physiological Plasticity in Reef Fishes

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Laetitia GE Wilkins

Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Germany

Marine Host-Microbe Ecology and Evolution

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Benedict Yuen

Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Germany

Marine Host-Microbe Ecology and Evolution

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