Dr. Coker is from New Zealand but spent some of his childhood in the Solomon Islands. There, he was exposed to snorkeling and the underwater world of coral reefs. His love of traveling later took him to Australia where he learned to dive and spent many weekends exploring the Great Barrier Reef.
Since then, Dr. Coker completed a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology at James Cook University (JCU) and a PhD (The Importance of Live Coral Habitats for Reef Fishes and Their Role in Moderating Key Ecological Processes) at the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (JCU) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville, Australia, under the supervision of Professors Morgan Pratchett, Philip Munday, Dr. Nicholas Graham, Dr. Shaun Wilson (Department of Environment and Conservation, WA), and Dr. Aaron MacNeil (Australian Institute of Marine Science). Following his Ph.D., Dr. Coker worked at the ARC Center investigating the effects of climate change on commercially important reef fishes. He joined the Reef Ecology Lab as a post-doctoral fellow in spring 2014.
Dr. Coker's research interests include investigating the importance of live coral habitats for fishes and how changes in habitat condition following disturbances impact the abundance, recruitment, and behavior of associated reef fishes. He is also investigating the role ecological processes play in biogeographic patterns of Red Sea reef fishes.