My group consists of both undergraduate and graduate students who come from a wide range of countries and backgrounds. Together, we conduct diverse research projects to address current challenges in coral reef biology. We aim to advance our understanding of how corals are impacted by climate and environmental change, and what mechanisms increase coral stress tolerance in a future ocean.


Verena Schoepf

Assistant Professor and MacGillavry Fellow

I am a marine biologist at the University of Amsterdam investigating how climate and environmental change impact tropical coral reefs, the “rainforests of the sea”. I have published more than 30 papers in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals, including Nature and Science, and have won several awards such as the WA Young Tall Poppy Science Award. As a Superstar of STEM and TEDx Speaker, I am passionate about science communication and promoting women in STEM, and my career and research on “super corals” were featured in the documentary series “Women and Oceans”.


Maitê Ghazaleh Bucher

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

I am a Latina marine biologist exploring the relationships between corals, their bacterial communities, and environmental change. I am currently a NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biology (PRFB) co-advised by Dr. Verena Schoepf (University of Amsterdam) and Dr. Karl Castillo (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). My current project aims to identify how the cnidarian microbiome contributes to holobiont stress tolerance. I completed my doctorate under Dr. Erin Lipp and was recently featured as a YSS/iBiology speaker. To promote diversity and scientific literacy, I participate on the Board of Directors for the Scientific Research & Education Network.


Sarah Solomon

PhD Candidate

I am a nature enthusiast and marine biologist with a passion for tropical eco-physiology. I am a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam under supervision of Dr. Verena Schoepf, and my research goals involve characterizing how tropical coral reefs will acclimatize to future ocean conditions and understanding the mechanisms that underlie coral resilience in extreme or marginal habitats. I’m inspired by the beauty and complexity of organismal diversity and I aspire to communicate our exciting scientific findings in creative ways to a broad audience.


Elias Speelman

MSc Project: "Recovery of coral communities from the 2016 mass bleaching event in the macrotidal Kimberley region, NW Australia"

My name is Elias Speelman and I am currently doing the Freshwater and Marine Biology Master at the University of Amsterdam. I'm very passionate about diving and coral reefs, that's the reason why I'm working with Verena. I'm working on a Masters project on the recovery of heat tolerant corals in the Kimberley region, NW Australia, after the 2016 mass bleaching event.


Iris van Os

MSc project: Curaçao’s inland bays: environmental variability and coral eco-physiology

Growing up in the Netherlands, I’ve always been broadly interested in aquatic life. Hence, my decision to enrol the master's Freshwater & Marine Biology at the University of Amsterdam. But it was during my first tropical dive experience, that I truly fell in love with the beauty and majesty of coral reefs. I’m passionate about ocean conservation and learning more about the impact of environmental disturbances on corals. I’m excited to study which biological mechanism potentially increase the stress tolerance of corals growing under highly variable conditions in the inland bays of Curacao. This project allows us to gain more insight into how coral reefs may develop in future ocean conditions.


Chiara de Jong

MSc project: Monitoring pollution in Curaçao’s environmentally extreme inland bays: eco-physiological effects on corals

My name is Chiara and I’m currently enrolled in the Freshwater & Marine Biology Master at the University of Amsterdam. I have always been fascinated by our planet and especially by the mysterious deep blue ocean. I’m interested in the effects of climate change and human impacts on coral reef ecosystems. My current research project under supervision of Dr Verena Schoepf is very exciting because it can give new insight into the mechanisms that facilitate coral survival and success in extreme and marginal environments. Besides doing research, I believe it is important to close the gap between science and society and I’m up for this challenge.


Defne Sahin

PhD Project: Environmental and ecological drivers of distribution and performance of high latitude corals

I have a BSc degree in Chemistry and a MSc degree in Environmental Sciences which I both completed in Istanbul, Turkey, where I'm originally from. Despite coming from a different background, I have always been passionate about marine conservation and corals. This led me to pursue a PhD at the University of Western Australia under the supervision of Dr Thomas Wernberg (collaboration with Dr Verena Schoepf). My PhD project aims to explore the poleward expansion of corals, the implications this might have on other species and the potential of high-latitude reefs to serve as a coral refuge under future ocean conditions.


Former MSc and PhD Students


MSc, 2020

Guadalupe Sepúlveda

Thesis "Environmental variability of inland bays in Curaçao and ecophysiology of two reef building coral species". Soon a PhD student at Stockholm University

PhD, 2018

Claire Ross

Thesis “Coral calcification mechanisms and the use of corals as paleo-thermometers”. Co-supervision with Prof Malcolm McCulloch (primary supervisor), Dr Jim Falter and Dr Thomas DeCarlo. Now a Research Scientist at the Western Australia Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions

MSc, 2018

Maria Jung

Thesis “Symbiont dynamics and energy reserves in Kimberley corals during and after a natural bleaching event”. Visiting student from the University of Bremen, Germany. Now a PhD candidate at the University of Western Australia

MSc, 2018

Cyrielle Rigal

Thesis “Physiological differences between heat-resistant intertidal and heat-susceptible subtidal Kimberley corals”. Visiting student from the University of South Brittany, France

MSc, 2017

Andrew Warnes

Thesis “Interactive effects of light and temperature on coral biogeochemistry”. Co-supervision with Dr Chris Cornwall and Dr Steeve Comeau. Now a Laboratory Coordinator at the Australian Institute of Marine Science

MSc, 2017

Steven Carrion

Thesis “Heat tolerance and acclimatisation capacity of Kimberley corals”. Visiting student from the University of Edinburgh, UK. Now a Marine Specialist Consultant at the World Bank

MSc, 2016

Morane Le Nohaïc

Thesis “Impacts of the global coral bleaching event of 2015/16 on coral reefs in Western Australia”. Visiting student from the University of La Rochelle, France. Now a PhD candidate at the University of Brisbane


©2020 by Verena Schoepf