Emma Pontes

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emma pontes

Emma Pontes
PhD Student / Lab Manager / Outreach Coordinator

Marine Biology and Ecology
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
University of Miami
4600 Rickenbacker Cswy
Miami, FL 33149


My name is Emma Pontes and I’m a second year PhD student with Dr. Chris Langdon. I completed my Bachelors degree at the University of Miami in 2015, where I double majored in Marine Science and Biology with a minor in Chemistry. I then enrolled in the Master of Professional Science program at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School, in the Tropical Marine Ecosystems track. My masters research was focused on the differential genotypic response of Acropora cervicornis to local coral disease. I carried out these experiments with my internship host, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center.

After graduating the MPS program in 2017, I accepted a Program Coordinator position in the Dean’s Office at the Rosenstiel School. While I loved the community outreach and education component of this position, I knew I wanted to further my education and continue studying coral. It was in 2019 that I started my first semester as a PhD student studying the effects of hypoxia and ocean acidification on coral physiology.

I’m interested in understanding how low oxygen conditions affect coral physiology, especially in combination with other stressors like increased temperature and reduced pH. As climate change progresses, the ocean is expected to get warmer and more acidic. These phenomena and their effects on coral physiology have been well studied, but very few studies consider the additional threat of hypoxia. Hypoxia has generally been defined as 2 mg O2/L or lower, however, recent studies have proven that the threshold could be higher for some taxa. My research will elucidate the details of hypoxia thresholds and curves for reef-building corals, as well as the combined effects of multiple stressors that corals are expected to face.