News (apr. 2019) The Living oceans foundation publishes its “world reef map.”

News (Apr. 2019) Received an “AI for Earth” grant from microsoft to use cloud computing resources (neural networking) to make predictions about reef coral behavior.

News (mar. 2019). Our “Coral Hospital” article is now in “online early” format. Full publication in April-June 2019.

News (mar. 2019). Received a Fulbright fellowship to continue my coral reef research at Taiwan’s national Aquarium in 2020.

Old news (oxymoron)

News (Feb. 2019). Just got back from a research trip to Komodo National Park (Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia). Photos to come, but in the meantime, check out the “best of” here.

News (Jan. 2019). Second article of the year (more findings from the Austral and Cook Islands).

News (Jan. 2019). Check out the first pub of the year (invertebrate recruitment in Mexico):

News (Dec. 2018). Check out my new popular science article on coral health in The Conversation.

Some highlights of my recent trip to Raja Ampat (Papua, Indonesia; October 2018)

Welcome to my first attempt at a website.


I am a marine biologist working on coral reefs and the endosymbioses upon which they are based. Over the years, my research has taken me to many amazing places, and allowed me to meet some truly cool and unique people. Although I cherish these memories, this website will be more of a data repository for my various projects than a blog detailing my experiences. Please allow me to introduce its various components. 

I have tried to present a picture of my research in a nutshell, with the ultimate goal of making all data (including pictures, nucleic acid and protein sequences, and all sorts of molecular and physiological data) publicly available. I have three major research interests:

1) the fundamental cellular biology of cnidarian-dinoflagellate endosymbioses

    2) the effects of global climate change on reef-building corals

3) the environmental and stress biology of reef corals

One of my new study sites in  Raja Ampat  (Papua, Indonesia)

One of my new study sites in Raja Ampat (Papua, Indonesia)

In actuality, most projects (past and present) span several of these three themes. For instance, current work in the Maldives and South Florida seeks to uncover the genetic basis of coral resilience to elevated temperature, a topic that encompasses all three of my interests. All past, present, and future projects make heavy use of molecular and cellular biology-based approaches, as I am ultimately interested in how corals can function when the vast majority of their cellular volume is encompassed by foreign cell types. Although this mutualistic association has allowed them to thrive for hundreds of millions of years, it also makes them sensitive to even slight changes in their environment. 

For all data and sequences associated with the Seriatopora hystrix and Pocillopora damicornis transcriptomes and proteomes, please consult the respective websites (SHVTS and PDLTTE, respectively). Basics of both experiments, as well as non-sequence-related data, can be found on this site (under Research Projects). Other manipulative experiments seeking to uncover the effects of global climate change on reef-building corals can be found under this same heading. Interestingly, we have not generally documented any effect of ocean acidification (OA) on the corals we routinely study, leading me have shifted solely to temperature from 2019 onwards.

In addition to data from manipulative experiments performed at Taiwan's National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium between 2008 and 2014 (Research Projects), I have also provided all images and data from research expeditions aboard the Living Oceans Foundation's research vessel, the M.Y. Golden Shadow. Details of LOF's Global Reef Expedition can be found here. I have divided up the data and images by country visited, beginning with French Polynesia in 2013 and ending with the Chagos Archipelago in 2015


All photography provided by Anderson Mayfield unless noted otherwise.

British Indian Ocean Territory

British Indian Ocean Territory


I am from Nashville, TN, about as far from the ocean as you can get (~1,000 km, with the closest living coral reef even farther). I don't do Facebook (after a long-term, hardcore addiction!), but you can email me at (personal) or (professional; until spring of 2020) or call me at 337-501-1976 (though I rarely answer my phone!). I also routinely post coral (and cat) photos on my Instagram account: dr._coral. Feel free to check out my C.V., too

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An aposymbiotic (symbiont-free) sea anemone ( Exaiptasia  sp.)

An aposymbiotic (symbiont-free) sea anemone (Exaiptasia sp.)

Glassy seas (Indian Ocean)

Glassy seas (Indian Ocean)

Current projects

I am currently attempting to uncover the molecular basis of reef coral resilience to elevated temperature; why do some corals bleach while their neighbors do not? This work is being conducted in five locations:

1) The Maldives (Kihavah and Baa Atolls) in partnership with Anantara Resorts, Carpe Diem Maldives, and Coral Reef CPR

2) Dongsha Atoll (Taiwan) in partnership with the Dongsha Atoll Research Station (with funding from the Fulbright Program)

3) Anilao (Luzon, Philippines) in collaboration w/ the Institute of Biological Sciences of the University of the Philippines-Los Banos

4) Ambon (Maluku, Indonesia) in collaboration with Dr. Gino Limmon at Pattimura University

5) Florida Keys (USA) in collaboration with Dr. Derek Manzello of NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanic and Meteorological Laboratory (CHAMP/ACCRETE).

Several polyps of the model coral for research  Pocillopora acuta  (formerly synonymized with the more commonly cited  P. damicornis ).

Several polyps of the model coral for research Pocillopora acuta (formerly synonymized with the more commonly cited P. damicornis).