Susana Carvalho, Ph.D.


Associate Professor of Practice of Marine Science

Research Interests

Prof. Carvalho’s expertise blends the fields of marine ecology, ecotoxicology, and coastal management. Prof. Carvalho is interested in untangling the role natural and anthropogenic stressors play in shaping marine biodiversity patterns and ecosystem functioning, using field and laboratory-based approaches. Her research advances fundamental knowledge of how marine organisms respond to environmental changes and the intrinsic patterns driving those changes. While her research aims to identify the main threats to the marine environment it has an applied aspect by incorporating the views of stakeholders into management pathways. Her goal is to keep fostering interactions with local stakeholders to improve decision-making in the field of marine science and ultimately contribute to the sustainability of the Red Sea.

At KAUST, Prof. Carvalho has established inter-disciplinary monitoring frameworks using standardized approaches aligned with international programs, which will be pivotal for the assessment of climate change impacts not only in the region but globally. She has also been involved in testing and validating emerging research tools, such as molecular-based tools in the field of environmental genomics, aiming to advance the establishment of early warning systems for marine health. More recently, she started investigating the status of non-native species in the region and the response of local species to emerging contaminants.

Selected Publications

  • Size structure of the coral Stylophora pistillata across reef flat zones in the central Red Sea. Rich WA, Carvalho S, Cadiz R, Gil G, Gonzalez K, Berumen ML. Scientific Reports, 12:13979, (2022)

  • Harnessing the microbiome to prevent global biodiversity loss. Peixoto RS, Voolstra CR, Sweet M, Duarte CM, Carvalho S, Vilela H, Lunshof JE, Gram L, Woodhams DC, Walter J, Roik A, Hentschel U, Thurber RV, Daisley B, Ushijima B, Daffonchio D, Costa R, Keller-Costa T, Bowman J, Rosado AS, Reid G, Mason CE, Walke JB, Thomas T, Berg G. Nature Microbiology,, (2022)

  • Bacterial communities from arid mangrove soils are shaped primarily by environmental rather than biogeographical factors. Thomson T, Fusi M, Bennett-Smith MF, Prinz N, Aylagas E, Carvalho S, Lovelock CE, Jones BH, Ellis JI. Microbiology Spectrum, 10:e0090321, (2022)

  • A portfolio of climate-tailored approaches to advance the design of marine protected areas in the Red Sea. Gajdzik L, DeCarlo TM, Aylagas E, Coker DJ, Green A, Majoris JE, Saderne VF, Carvalho S, Berumen ML. Global Change Biology, 27:3956-3968, (2021)

  • A step towards the validation of bacteria biotic indices using DNA metabarcoding for benthic monitoring. Aylagas E, Atalah J, Sánchez-Jerez P, Pearman J, Casado N, Asensi J, Toledo-Guedes K, Carvalho S. Molecular Ecology Resources, 21:1889-1903, (2021)

  • High summer temperatures amplify functional differences between coral- and algal-dominated reef communities. Roth F, Karcher DB, Carvalho S, Thomson T, Saalmann F, Rädecker N, Voolstra CR, Kürten B, Struck U, Jones BH, Wild C. Ecology, 102:e03226, (2021)

  • Shining a light on pan-regional cryptic reef benthic biodiversity using Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures. Pearman JK, Aylagas E, Chust G, Villarino E, Watson JR, Chenuil A, Borja A, Cahill AE, Carugati L, Danovaro R, David R, Irigoien X, Mendibil I, Moncheva S, Rodríguez-Ezpeleta N, Carvalho S. Molecular Ecology 29:4882–4897, (2020)

  • Multiple stressor effects on coral reef ecosystems in the Red Sea. Ellis JI, Jamil T, Anlauf H, Coker D, Curdia J, Dasari H, Hewitt J, Jones BH, Krokos G, Roth F, Carvalho S, Hoteit I. Global Change Biology 25:4131-4146, (2019)
  • Disentangling the complex microbiological network within vulnerable coral reef ecosystems. Pearman JK, Aylagas E, Voolstra C, Anlauf H, Villalobos R, Carvalho S, Molecular Ecology, (2019)
  • Beyond the visual: introducing the hidden reef cryptobiome. Carvalho S, Aylagas E, Villalobos R, Kattan Y, Berumen M, Pearman JK, Proceedings of the Royal Society B., 286: 20182697, (2019) 


  • ​Ph.D., Applied Aquaculture, University of Algarve, Faro, Portugal, 2007

  • M.Sc., Science of the Coastal Zones, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal, 2000

  • B.Sc., Biology, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal, 1998 

Professional Profile

  • 2022-present: Associate Professor of Practice, KAUST, Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division, Red Sea Research Center, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
  • 2022: Principal Research Scientist, KAUST, Red Sea Research Center, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia

  • 2012-2022: Senior Research Scientist, KAUST, Red Sea Research Center, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia

  • 2008-2012: Postdoctoral Fellow, Portuguese Institute for Fisheries and Sea Research; Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucia (ICMAN-CSIC, Spain)

  • 2007-2008: Research Specialist, Portuguese Institute for Fisheries and Sea Research, Portugal 

Scientific and Professional Membership

  • Ecological Society of America (ESA)

  • Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science Association (ECSA) 


  • Postdoctoral Scholarship, Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology) 

KAUST Affiliations

  • ​Red Sea Research Center (RSRC)
  • Division of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering (BESE)

Research Interests Keywords

Biodiversity Ecosystem functioning Ecosystem health assessment Climate Change Non-native species Ecosystem-based approaches Nature-based solutions