My marine science career began at home (National University of Ireland Galway) with a focus on Irish deep-sea coral mounds and physical oceanography. Since then, the story has meandered throughout Europe (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, European Marine Board) and Australasia (Palau, Okinawa, Malaysia, and Australia). In Malaysia, I developed a collaborative MSc project alongside local researchers to assess the threat of sewage-derived resort runoff for Malaysian coral reefs, using cutting-edge isotopic and ecological assessments. This work can be used to influence more sustainable hotel waste-management practices.
Outside academia, my passion for the oceans grew from diving, surfing, and coordinating an award-winning university surf club. I have chaired and presented at various conference sessions, and have industrial experience in aquaculture, fisheries, and deep-sea coral ROV surveys, through the Irish Marine Institute and Marine Scotland. But given the global degradation of coral reefs, I am evermore involved in coral reef research and conservation.
With a fascination in fundamental coral population ecology, I am working toward understanding long-term temporal variation in coral populations and demographic processes such as recruitment, growth, and survival in SE Australia. We are using in-situ and remotely sensed data to understand the drivers of the mass-coral bleaching event which affected Pocilloporid corals locally in 2016, and sub-lethal stresses to coral recruitment.
Evidence suggests that coral adaptation rates may not outpace climate change. With Coralassist, I aim to understand what is needed for interventions like assisted evolution or reef restoration to be implemented at scale. But how much time do we have, what is needed to restore or retain coral reef ecosystem function in the future, and where do we focus these efforts?
I aim to answer these questions with combined theory, data, and modelling on coral traits and the trade-offs between them, coral spawning, spatial connectivity between Palauan reefs, and simulations under future possible future climate scenarios.