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 Our Projects 


Designing Artifical Reefs

 Coral reefs have important functions, including coastal protection and supporting fisheries, as well as facilitating ocean productivity and biodiversity. Our group works on developing new approaches to engineer artificial reefs with similar ecosystem functions. We use a bio-inspired approach and combine innovations from bioengineering, nanotechnology, and coral ecophysiology. For DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), we are currently developing methods to increase coral recruitment and reduce competitive macroalgal growth on artificial reef structures in Hawai’i.


Photobiology of Mesophotic Corals

Shallow tropical coral reefs, vital for biodiversity and coastal communities, face threats from global and local stressors, especially coral bleaching due to high temperatures and solar radiation. Deep-water corals at 30-150 m depths known as mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs) offer hope as they thrive in low-light conditions. We are currently working on a multidisciplinary NSF-BSF project aiming to study coral light-harvesting mechanisms of mesophotic corals, potentially benefiting photobioreactor technology.

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Bio-hybrid Coral Model Systems

Corals are holobionts, meaning that they are comprised of not only the coral animal, but also its associated microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and microscopic algae. Model systems are useful to study mechanistic processes of the holobiont. We currently have projects funded by the Moore Foundation and by NSF that aim to develop biohybrid model systems. In such systems, we use bioengineering approaches (e.g. 3D bioprinting) to mimic structural and functional aspects of the coral-algal symbiosis. This will facilitate an improved understanding of physiological stress responses such as coral bleaching.


Educational Outreach

In addition to our research efforts, our group is committed to educating the public about the importance of coral reef conservation. Current projects include a public exhibit at Birch aquarium.


 Our Collaborators 

Our lab partners with groups who share our commitment to the conservation and restoration of coral reefs.

Through our collaborative approach, we aim to create a global network of experts and advocates working towards a sustainable future for coral reef ecosystems.

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