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.
MacGillavry Fellow and Vidi Laureate
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 40 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”.
Rene van der Zande
I am a marine ecologist in the group of Dr. Verena Schoepf at the University of Amsterdam. My research focuses on the effects of multiple stressors on coral health, and aims to improve our understanding of how changing environmental conditions interact in shaping coral reefs presently as well as in the future. To achieve this, I mostly use a combination of manipulative laboratory and aquarium experiments, coupled with long-term monitoring and experiments in the field. The process of finding out more and more about the intricate and fascinating mechanisms of evolution and adaptation in nature fuels my passion for the natural world, and I hope to inspire others to develop the same.
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.
Kelly Wong Johnson
I completed my MS in Biology at California State University, Northridge where my research focused on the capacity for corals and octocorals to occupy space on rubble-dominated reefs in the United States Virgin Islands and French Polynesia. Continuing my interest for coral ecophysiology on Caribbean reefs, I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam under the supervision of Dr. Verena Schoepf. My current research goals are to explore how the environmental variability of particular reefs in Curaçao and Panama, which are characterized by sub-optimal conditions as compared to surrounding reefs, promotes or reduces the physiological performance and stress-tolerance of corals from those reefs. I am impassioned to be a student, diver, and researcher within a large scientific community working towards better understanding how corals will persist when confronted with persistent global climate change.
I am a Marine Biologist who fell in love with the ocean growing up in Florida, USA. Since completing my B.A. at New College of Florida and M.E.M. at Duke University I have been working to conserve coral reefs through the reduction of land-based sources of pollution along the coast of Saipan, part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Continuing my work in the Pacific, I am co-supervised by Dr. Verena Schoepf and Dr. Lyza Johnston in my research studying the patterns and mechanisms of thermal tolerance in reef building corals. It is our hope that this research will facilitate the restoration of local reefs that were devastated by the 2014-2017 global bleaching event. Outside of my research I am a passionate underwater photographer, long distance hiker and cat dad.
MSc project: Adaptation to extreme environmental conditions and coral heat tolerance in inland bays of Curaçao
My curiosity about nature has driven me since I was a child to understand the mechanisms that govern the environment and ecosystems and it has grown into a true passion. My academic journey brings to touch various aspects of biology, with a particular emphasis on ecology, which is my main field of interest. Currently, I'm “diving” into my second master's project focused on understanding coral ability to adapt to extreme and/or marginal environmental conditions under the supervision of Sarah Solomon and Dr Verena Schoepf. By conducting a reciprocal transplant experiment between the inland bay and a fringing reef, I aim to gain insights into corals' capacity to acclimate to the ever-changing abiotic ocean conditions influenced by climate change.
Rebecca van Oostveen
MSc Project: Coral resistance to heat and hypoxia - the role of environmental history
Motivated by my interest in understanding the impacts of climate change on coral ecophysiology, I started my master’s thesis under the guidance of Kelly Wong and Dr Verena Schoepf. In this project, I am studying coral resilience within Almirante Bay in Bocas del Toro, Panama. This bay is a distinctive environment where corals regularly face extreme and variable environmental conditions. The main goal of this research is to gain insights into the potential role of such environmental history in achieving increased resistance to climate change stressors, along with understanding the associated physiological mechanisms. Through this, I aim to contribute to getting a better understanding of coral adaptive capacity which is crucial to help protect these vital ecosystems.
Former Postdocs, PhD and MSc Students
MSc Thesis "Growth rates of seven coral species along a strong environmental gradient in the Colombian Caribbean"
MSc Thesis "Twenty years on: Population structures of common Caribbean coral species differ between a marginal and extreme habitat and a benign
MSc Thesis "Assessing the physiological adaptations and acclimatization potential of two scleractinian coral species in a an extreme and marginal inland bay of Curaçao"
Daily supervisor: Sarah Solomon
MSc Thesis "Quantifying the protein content of three Scleractinian coral species occurring in Curaçao’s extreme/marginal inland bays"
Daily supervisor: Sarah Solomon
Wout van der Heide
MSc Thesis "Calcification and photosynthetic responses of reef-building corals to ocean acidification"
Chiara de Jong
MSc Thesis "Assessment of the abiotic environmental variability and water quality of Curaçao’s inland bays"
Iris van Os
MSc Thesis "Coral eco-physiology in the marginal and extreme inland bays of Curaçao during the warm wet season"
Maitê G. Bucher
NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow; joint supervision with Dr Karl Castillo, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
MSc Thesis "Differential long-term recovery from mass bleaching across strong environmental gradients in an extreme macrotidal reef environment"
MSc Thesis "Environmental variability of inland bays in Curaçao and ecophysiology of two reef building coral species"
PhD 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
MSc Thesis “Symbiont dynamics and energy reserves in Kimberley corals during and after a natural bleaching event”. Visiting student from the University of Bremen, Germany
MSc Thesis “Physiological differences between heat-resistant intertidal and heat-susceptible subtidal Kimberley corals”. Visiting student from the University of South Brittany, France
MSc Thesis “Interactive effects of light and temperature on coral biogeochemistry”. Co-supervision with Dr Chris Cornwall and Dr Steeve Comeau
MSc Thesis “Heat tolerance and acclimatisation capacity of Kimberley corals”. Visiting student from the University of Edinburgh, UK
Morane Le Nohaïc
MSc 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