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At 12 years old, Dr. Alain Duran knew what he wanted to do when he grew up. Diving at a young age, his experiences in the water developed a passion for the ocean that led to a life-long dedication to protect the incredible marine life he found there.

So when Duran was offered a Research Scientist position at SECORE International to work on a coral restoration project in the Bahamas, his journey came full circle.

While Duran was completing his PhD at FIU with his faculty advisors Dr. Ligia Collado-Vides and Dr. Deron Burkepile, his work led him to collaborate with Dr. Margaret Miller. Miller is the Research Director for SECORE , a conservation organization that focuses on the restoration and protection of coral reefs across the globe.

They found that sediment plus algal turfs in the Florida Keys were having an impact on the development of juvenile reef-building corals. Settlement of two endangered coral species had been reduced. The research was published in May’s Marine Pollution Bulletin

Luckily, publishing a groundbreaking paper was only the beginning of Duran’s involvement with SECORE. When Duran stumbled upon an open position with the organization, he knew he had to jump at the opportunity.

In addition to the Bahamas, SECORE works on projects in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Guam and Curaçao, among many other nations. The organization works to increase the survival and growth of  the juvenile corals they breed, grow and replant to natural reefs.

Since 2013 he has worked on the ecology of coral reefs with the Center for Coastal Oceans Research in FIU’s Institute of Water and Environment: “Much of my research has focused on coral reef dynamics and identifying the algae that is needed for baby corals to grow. Baby corals are very fragile and can be either negatively or positively affected by algae depending on the species.”

“My main job is to find places where coral larvae could survive and thrive. Applying science for coral restoration,” said Duran.

He has a lot of new and exciting goals, like identifying how different pressures are impacting juvenile corals and whether changing different ecosystem dynamics can positively impact the growth of these vulnerable corals. 

“I’m really excited for the research I’ll be doing with SECORE but I do hope to continue collaborating with FIU in this new role. There is so much potential for cooperation here,” says Duran. He will begin his position on July 15.