Dr Mariana Rocha De Souza

Coral Reef Biologist and Ecologist

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About Mariana

Dr Mariana Rocha De Souza is a Marine Biologist with expertise in the ecology and conservation of coral reefs. Her research uses a combination of field, molecular and bioinformatic techniques to investigate the genetic and physiological mechanisms of coral resilience. She has worked on a diverse range of projects, including coral mapping using photomosaics in Oahu, coral spawning in French Polynesia, coral assisted evolution in Australia, coral diversity in Palau, and coral feeding in Brazil.


Mariana co-led a team of researchers who monitored 600 coral colonies across 30 sites in Kāne'ohe Bay for three years, before, during, and after a major bleaching event. Data on environmental factors, human impacts, host genetics, and symbiont community composition of each colony were collected and analyzed. This study provided the most detailed insights to date regarding the environmental conditions and coral health in Kāne‘ohe Bay, which can be used to guide resource reef management, impact mitigation, and restoration efforts.


Mariana played a key role in the Restore with Resilience program, leading the first coral restoration project in Hawaii that engaged the local community. Her work included selecting coral species, collecting, testing, and outplanting corals, and developing innovative restoration techniques and community engagement strategies. Her efforts have helped restore coral populations in Hawaii and raise awareness about the importance of protecting marine ecosystems. She also managed the OPIHI community science project, leading workshops for educators on intertidal biodiversity data collection and developing curriculum on corals and molecular biology for Hawaiian teachers.


Mariana is passionate about the intersection of science, policy, and diplomacy. As a John Knauss Marine Policy Fellow, she gained valuable experience as an assistant project manager at NOAA's Global Ocean Monitoring and Observing Program for the AtlantOS and Argo Programs, which broadened her understanding of federal and international policy. Mariana also represents the International Coral Reef Society (ICRS) at UNFCCC meetings and is part of the Research and Independent non-Governmental Organization (RINGO) constituency recognized by the UNFCCC.

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