14 February, 2023


My work is probably best summarized as biodiversity assessment. I study marine ecosystems to evaluate their biodiversity using the DNA that I find there. At first glance, it may appear that there is nothing of interest in each small sample of sediment or vial of water that I collect. But, by analyzing the DNA in the samples, we can tell what species have been in that ecosystem.

Read more

18 December, 2022

Nature journal features KAUST alumnus Bennett-Smith’s winning shot

If a picture is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, then the photographs of KAUST alumnus Morgan Bennett-Smith (M.S., '20) communicate volumes about the Red Sea. The marine scientist has been bringing the stories of the sea to life through photography since he started his journey at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology — first, as a participant in the KAUST Red Sea Research Center's (RSRC) summer program in 2016, and then as a graduate student of marine science in the Reef Ecology Lab of RSRC in 2018, where he studied with Professor of Marine Science Michael Berumen, director of the Red Sed Research Center. As Bennett-Smith's knowledge about coral reefs grew, so, too, did his passion for documenting the complex and colorful habitats and marine life unique to the Red Sea.

Read more

18 December, 2022

Northern Red Sea reefs resist bleaching in warming seas

While corals die out worldwide, resistant reefs in the northern Red Sea could endure a dire global warming scenario. Supercorals in the northern Red Sea could hold some secrets for reef survival in warming seas.

Coral reefs underpin the livelihoods of around a billion people worldwide, from providing food to attracting tourism to protecting coastlines from storms. But these ecosystems are increasingly threatened by more frequent and severe marine heatwaves.

Read more

08 December, 2022

A photo of prof. Raquel Peixoto by Morgan Bennett-Smith has been selected by Nature’s photo competition

Injecting coral. Marine microbiologist Raquel Peixoto is deep in concentration in this underwater shot, tending to the coral species that she studies at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. Here in the Red Sea, she’s applying a cocktail of bacteria to a reef — known as the Coral Probiotics Village in the lab — to study the symbiotic relationship between the two underwater life forms. The photo was taken in October 2021, and it’s hot down there: the water temperature can reach up to 32 °C.

Read more

07 December, 2022

KAUST at COP27: Taking sustainable to scale

Representatives from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) convened in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt from Nov 6 – 18 at COP27, the 27th Conference of the Parties and largest annual gathering on climate action in the world. The United Nations event took place in three designated areas across the city center — the Blue, Green and Climate Action Innovation Zones. Each space offered different opportunities to network and share sustainable perspectives with people from different sectors of society around the world committed to climate action — from heads of state and industry and indigenous leaders to climate activists and academic peers.

Read more

16 November, 2022

Tiger shark activity leads scientists to discover the world’s largest seagrass ecosystem

The largest seagrass ecosystem in the world has been discovered and mapped— an area in The Bahamas estimated to be up to 92,000 km2. Findings are published in the scientific journal Nature Communications. The study, "Tiger sharks support the characterization of the world's largest seagrass ecosystem," details the researchers' innovative approach of using camera tags to track the movements of tiger sharks over seagrass meadows, which helped the scientists map and ultimately validate spatial estimates of these vast blue carbon ecoystems in The Bahamas for the first time.

Read more

27 November, 2022

Bioreactor keeps cell culture conditions under control

Laboratory parameters maintained at physiologically relevant levels allow for more robust experiments with human cells. A cell-culturing technique developed by KAUST scientists helps to create biological conditions that more closely mirror physiological environments compared to standard protocols used in most laboratories today.

The new bioreactor system delivers gases — rather than chemicals — to keep acidity levels and oxygen exchange kinetics within body-like ranges, an approach that allows for more careful control of environmental parameters.

Read more

17 November, 2022

Prof. Raquel Peixoto has been selected as 2022 Coral Champions list by Lewis Pugh Foundation

We are happy to share the news that our Prof. Raquel Peixoto has been selected as the 2022 coral champions by Lewis Pugh Foundation.

Read more

07 November, 2022

Art at the cutting edge of coral reef research

From lens to lab, artists and scientists have been capturing the critters hidden in coral reefs. Innovative science is often a source of inspiration for artists. When photographers Nico Krebs and Taiyo Onorato encountered autonomous reef monitoring structures (ARMS) at KAUST’s Red Sea Research Center, they did not just see scientific instruments for measuring marine biodiversity. They saw underwater apartment blocks where creatures move in, compete, cooperate and move out.

Read more

27 October, 2022

Student Focus: Susanne Bähr

Susanne Bähr, a PhD Student in the Habitat and Benthic Biodiversity Lab at KAUST's Red Sea Research Center, has a deep fascination with symbiotic coral-dwelling crustaceans. She is currently exploring fluorescence in decapods— a poorly understood phenomenon in marine invertebrates, which could potentially play an important role for the fluorescent organism itself or even for other inhabitants of coral reefs.

Read more

06 October, 2022

Going to extremes to tackle oil contamination

Heat-loving bacteria from an Antarctic volcano could help degrade and clean up oil in the world’s coldest continent and beyond. Júnia Schultz recently joined KAUST as a postdoc working with Alexandre Rosado. She has set her sights on characterizing the microbiome of extreme terrestrial environments in Saudi Arabia, including volcanoes, deserts and geothermal sites. These extremophiles, bacteria that grow in the world’s most extreme environments, including those that love heat (thermophiles), hold immense potential for a myriad of biotechnology applications.

Read more

03 October, 2022

Tracking turtle nesting grounds

Newly discovered turtle nesting sites in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea could help coastal megaprojects minimize their impact on these endangered species.

For a sea turtle hatchling, its chance of survival is often decided long before its first sprint to the sea. Nesting females require beaches that offer the best possible incubation conditions for their eggs, from sand color and moisture content to slope angle.

Read more

02 October, 2022

NEW BOOK: Coral Reef Conservation and Restoration in the Omics Age

We are thrilled to share the new book on Coral Reef Conservation and Restoration coauthored by Prof. Manuel Aranda and Prof. Madeleine J.H. van Oppen. This is a unique book, the first one with this focus and content. Hope you will enjoy it!

Read more

27 September, 2022

Coral genome reveals cysteine surprise

Model animals, such as mice and fruit flies, have provided scientists with powerful insights into how cellular biology works. However, model animals are really just a guide, and it can be risky to generalize findings across animals from studying a selection of model organisms.

Read more

26 September, 2022

Prof. Michael Berumen has been selected as a 2022 outstanding Alumni for the College of Science and Engineering from James Cook University

We are happy to share the news that our Center Director, Prof. Michael Berumen, has been selected as the 2022 Outstanding Alumni for the College of Science and Engineering from James Cook University. The ceremony took place on the 9th of September in Townsville, Australia. Congratulations, Mike!

Read more

14 September, 2022

RSRC Faculty Retreat Meeting

On September 13 and 14, the Red Sea Research Center Faculty, business manager, and some of the center staff met for a two-days retreat meeting to plan the future of the center's activities. The retreat meeting took place at the Bay La Sun Hotel in KAEC.

Read more

11 September, 2022

Divers spot manta rays for science

What started as a simple desire to understand more about oceanic manta rays (Mobula birostris) in the Red Sea led KAUST colleagues Anna Knochel and Alexander Kattan and co-workers to complete a survey of these creatures with the help of holiday snaps taken by members of the public on diving trips.

Read more

04 September, 2022

Student Focus: Anieka Parry

Anieka Parry just started her PhD at KAUST Tarek Ahmed Juffali Research Chair for Red Sea Ecology Lab, but she already did her Master’s thesis under Professor Duarte’s supervision; so, she is no novice to the marine science creativity that roams the corridors of Professor Carlos Duarte laboratories.

Read more

25 August, 2022

Concrete solutions for sea turtle survival

An environmental foundation and a cement factory are supporting ongoing efforts and research to help safeguard the future of Red Sea turtles.

One of the largest sea turtle nesting grounds on the Red Sea could become a conservation area due to an unusual alliance. A cement company that once undermined the survival of green turtles on Saudi Arabia’s Ras Baridi beach is now supporting KAUST’s research efforts to protect this endangered species.

Read more

21 August, 2022

Researcher Focus: Dr. Ricardo N. Alves

Solar Ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation is emerging as a largely overlooked, but prevalent stressor in the marine environment. The extreme transparency of the Red Sea, leads to high penetration of UVB rays, with known deleterious effects on the health of sea organisms. As such, today we talked to Dr. Ricardo N. Alves, a research specialist from the Biological Oceanography Lab of Prof. Susana Agustí's group, which focuses on the effects of solar UVB radiation as a stressor in fish from offshore aquaculture.

Read more