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Karim P

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of Texas Austin (UT Austin)


Microbial Ecology, population genomics, evolutionary biology


My research interests are microbial ecology, phylogenomics, and population genomics of reef-building corals. I currently study the microbial ecology of Caribbean reef corals to identify the factors that shape their microbial communities, which are crucial for proper coral host physiological functioning. Previously, I studied the phylogenomics and population genomics of the cryptic coral species complex massive Porites on Guam. Massive Porites are one of the major groups of reef-building corals in the Coral Triangle and Indo-Pacific. Interestingly, some species of massive Porites bleach less than others and predominantly inhabit different environments, which means that differential bleaching response between corals in different habitats is likely influenced by coral genotype, as well as environment. When I'm not working, I love traveling, freediving, paddleboarding, learning Spanish, and taking care of my plants!

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

How adapted are coral microbiomes to changing environments?

Climate change is rapidly changing both the ecological and genomic landscape of ecologically signficiant reef-building coral species, however, the microbes of these corals are vastly understudied. Microbes, including those found in reef-building corals, enable proper physiological function of their host. In this study, we investigate how rapidly microbes in reef-building corals are changing, and what environmental factors most strongly influence change in these coral microbial communities.

Coral Species are complex

Coral reefs are undergoing tremendous amounts of decline, however, coral taxonomy is still largely understudied. Using genomic tools, in addition to corallite morphology data, we will identify cryptic coral species, which may likely occur in different environments, which has major implications on the conservation plans of coral reefs.

Coding skills


Languages I know

French, intermediate

Teaching experience

I have been a teaching assistant for three semesters, once at the University of Guam, and twice at the University of Texas at Austin.



University of Miami
BS Bachelor of Science (2017)
Marine Science/Biology
University of Guam
MS Master of Science
University of Texas Austin (UT Austin)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Integrative Biology

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