Prof Madeleine van Oppen
Madeleine was originally trained in marine ecology, developed as an ecological geneticist post-BSc and begun to study coral-associated microorganism in 2000. Her microbial studies were initially limited to the dinoflagellate endosymbionts of corals, but in the past 5+ years she has ventured into the study of other microbial groups that inhabit corals, including prokaryotes and viruses. Madeleine’s research focuses on the adaptation/acclimatisation of reef-building corals to climate change. Increasingly, Madeleine is working in the field of coral reef restoration, in particular the development of coral stock better able to cope with disturbed environments and predicted future ocean conditions (i.e., assisted evolution). This includes the manipulation of microbial communities associated with corals, laboratory evolution of algal endosymbionts, selective breeding of corals of corals, and the conditioning (i.e., transgenerational acclimation) of corals to predicted future ocean conditions.
Madeleine completed her PhD on the molecular biogeography of seaweeds at the University of Groningen (Netherlands) in 1995, and subsequently conducted postdoctoral positions at the University of East Anglia, UK (Speciation in Cichlid fishes), and James Cook University, Australia (Molecular relationships in the coral genus Acropora, and Genetic diversity and specificity of acroporid coral-dinoflagellate symbioses). In 2001, she took up a position at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Townsville. She commenced her position as chair in Marine Biology in the School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, in 2015, while still maintaining a part-time position as Senior Principal Research Scientist at AIMS.