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. Personally, I 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


I am a Biologist and Photographer 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.

In my master thesis I am working with phylogenomics and metagenomics. I am interested in the phylogeny and bacterial communities of Muricea, octocoral genus in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. We want to compare the microbiome of species zooxanthellate and azooxanthellate, compare euphotic, mesophotic and deep-sea species; and produce an eco-evolutionary model as phylosymbiosis to explain this pattern.

You can find me as dc.vergara10 at / dianacbiol 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