Currently, I am developing my Ph.D. thesis on a process of incipient ecological speciation in the Caribbean octocoral Antillogorgia bipinnata. Understanding this process and to recognize the mechanisms promoting adaptive divergence are being addressed in different ways. So, classical ecological experiments in reciprocal transplants are allowing us to understand the role of phenotypic plasticity as a promoter of especiative process. In turn, we are incorporating techniques of reduced representation sequencing looking for neutral-type SNP markers, the signs left by selection by outliers and finally seeking an approach to genomic architecture by either a genome sequencing, genetic or associative map.

In addition to deepening the process of incipient sympatric speciation, I am interested in addressing other questions in comparative genomics, gene evolution, regulation of expression and epigenetic. These fields are in full swing, with many questions that new tools in molecular biology and bioinformatics now allow us to respond.

Yo can find me as: if.calixto28 at


Actually I am developing my Ph.D. thesis on the ecological diversification of the genus Eunicea. This group comprises the most diverse and abundant genus in the Tropical Western Atlantic. I personally want to understand the origin of octocorals diversification and the factors that promote the origin of new species.

Previously I studied the diversity of the genus Eunicea in Caribbean reefs, I did a phylogenetic reconstruction to explain the relationships between the species and I did a population ecology study of the clonal octocoral Eunicea fusca with an genetic approach. Additionally I was studying the composition of the shallow reef community in and outside Marine Protected Areas.

I have been helping in field work activities, specifically in growth and diseases surveys of octocorals from the genus Pacifigorgia and reproduction of Antillogorgia bipinata in the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Panamá, at Bocas del Toro Research Station.

You can find me as: a.sarmiento40 at

Elena You can find me as: e.quintanilla10 at

Imagen 2

Currently, my research includes to evaluate larvae development and response to ocean acidification conditions in octocorals and to develop and implement new experimental methodologies for measuring octocoral calcification rates in mesocosm controlled environments, using colony fragments adapted and maintained in vitro under treatment conditions. We are interested in evaluating their resilience to elevated pCO2 treatments and exploring how the mechanisms of survival and calcification rates may be compromised. Also, I am trained in microscopy at the Paul Sabatier University at ITAV (Institut des Technologies Avancées en Sciences du Vivant), in Tolousse France through the Ecos Nord program, and at the Biophysics laboratories to which I also belong, for operating and improve custom Selective Plane Illumination Microscope (SPIM).

You can find me at:


As a marine biologist I am deeply fascinated by the creatures that inhabit the oceans, primarily by the organisms that construct coral reefs. Therefore, understanding and unraveling the mechanisms that support such a highly diverse ecosystem, are what drive my scientific quest. Up to now, I have studied the community of benthic foraminifera in coral reefs of the Caribbean region of Colombia, as a means to assess whether water quality is suitable for mixotrophic and calcifying organisms. Currently, I am eager to study symbiosis in reef environments, as it determines the very existence of this outstanding ecosystem.

You can find me as:m.gomezc1 at



I am a Biomedical Engineer and science enthusiast.

During my bachelor I worked in different fields of biomedical sciences taking classes in a broad range of engineering courses and basic sciences. Previous projects have led me to master different tools and approaches like computer science, biomaterials, tissue engineering, biomechanics and bionanotechnology. Some of the projects I’ve worked on in the past years are: patient record management for the transplant unit at Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá (FSFB); design and production of a driving assistant prototype for patients with hearing loss; creation of membranes for dental alveoli after teeth extraction, and scaffolds for bone regeneration using 3D printing. The latter two projects focused on the use of materials like PVA, chitosan, coral and alginate.

My main interest lays in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering. Thus I have begun a Master’s Degree in Biological Sciences, in order to study possible applications of natural materials in the biomedical field. Now my research is focused in the characterization of the biomineralization process in gorgonian octocorals.

You can find me as: sa.colmenares87 at / sthephaniecolmenares at



You can find me as: tm.velasquez10 at

I have experience filming wild-life and popular science documentaries. I have also worked in entrepreneurship as well as scientific advisory for fisheries and oceanographic vessels. My interests in the Master’s program is focused on acquiring capacities for scientific and audiovisual exploration of mesophotic corals and deep reefs, aside from the development of sustainable business projects based on research and conservation of marine biodiversity.

You can find me as: / ca.martínez1 at / cromatocamilo at


I am a Biology and Photography student working in professional animal and underwater photography.

I am interested in the ecology and evolution of invertebrates, specially in octocorals. My work is related to the octocorals phenotypical plasticity in the genus Pterogorgia and its evolutionary strategies due to predation and ecological adaptations. I am trying to solve the phylogenetic problems of this genus with morphological experiments and molecular genomic analyses.

I work in projects of Ocean Acidification influence and tolerance in octocorals of the same genus Pterogorgia and how this acidification affect its larval develop and grow.

You can find me as dc.vergara10 at / dianacbiol at



My research interests:

I’m interested on the biology of cephalopods. I had the opportunity to learn about the systematics of this group during my undergraduate studies, using approaches from the molecular biology and phylogenetic field. I’m looking forward to learn about the sensory biology of cephalopods on my future studies. I’m very interested on the evolution of the neural and sensory systems in these animals.

My projects:

I’ve been working on octopods systematics during my bachelor’s thesis, assessing the biodiversity of this group of cephalopods in the Colombian Caribbean Sea. I’m also preparing a manuscript abut geographic drivers of diversification in lolignid squids with other undergraduate colleagues, using phylogenetic tools and ecological niche modelling approaches. Lastly, I’ve been working on a project about the sensory insights we can get studying the molecular evolution of a superfamily of proteins, the GPCRs, on the Octopus bimaculoides genome. This last project has been developed under the guidance of Sönke Johnsen at Duke University.

You can find me as ea.ritschard10 at /