NSU to Host Coral Reef and Climate Change Symposium

“Coral Crisis: Issues & Response” Event Brings Together Experts from Across the Globe


FORT LAUDERDALE/DAVIE, Fla. – There’s no easy way to say it – the world’s coral reefs are in danger.

Researchers from around the world, including world-renowned experts at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography, have been studying corals to determine not only what is killing them but what can be done to protect and save them. The worldwide decline of coral reefs calls for improved scientific understanding of the ecological processes that underlie reef health and resilience together with urgent reassessment of current management practices that incorporates the role of human activity in shaping ecosystems.

To that end, from 1-5 p.m. Monday, November 18, NSU is hosting a series of talks and a panel discussion titled, “Coral Crisis: Issues and Response.” This event will be held at NSU’s Ocean Campus, 8000 N. Ocean Dr., (in NSU’s Guy Harvey Oceanographic Center building) within the Mizell-Johnson State Park (at the entry to Port Everglades.) It will also be livestreamed as a webinar, where external participants can submit their question to the panel.

The event is not open to the public, however, media are invited to cover this very important subject. Members of the community who are interested can access the live stream online at:


The health of the oceans depends directly on the health of the coral reefs – as does the health of many country’s economies.

Dr. Richard Dodge Dean, NSU Halmos College

“What is happening to our coral reefs is a disaster,” said Richard Dodge, Ph.D., dean of NSU’s Halmos College. “Coral reefs play a huge role both from an environmental as well as economic standpoint. The health of the planet depends on the health of our oceans, and coral reefs are an integral part of the ocean and ocean health. Corals are also involved in the well-being of many economies – billions of dollars both locally and globally depend on our reefs remaining vibrant ecosystems for marine life. That is why it is so important that we all work together to determine not only the problems our coral reefs face, but what we can do to protect them for generations to come.”


Below is information on the event’s participants:


Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., U.S. Navy (ret) is Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere/Deputy Administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He was previously a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, Oceanographer of the Navy, and Commander of the Navy Meteorology and Oceanography Command. He has experience in weather and ocean forecasting, hydrographic surveying, policy and planning on fisheries, and national security impacts of climate change, and developing the Navy’s information technology, cyber security and intelligence. NOAA is the lead federal agency for coral reefs.

Terry Hughes, Ph.D, has provided leadership in responding to global coral bleaching events caused by climate change and developed practical solutions that improve the management and governance of marine environments. The international science journal, Nature, has dubbed him “Reef Sentinel” for the global role he plays in applying multi-disciplinary science to securing reef sustainability. Hughes is an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

Bernhard Riegl, Ph.D., professor and Chair of NSU’s Halmos College Department of Marine and Environmental Science, is a global expert on effects to the changing state of coral reefs. He will speak about the state of reefs worldwide from our academic perspective and with focus on local and regional situations.

Stephen J. O’Brien, Ph.D., is a world leading molecular biologist, population geneticist, genetic epidemiologist and dedicated conservationist who uses molecular genetics and bioinformatics tools to help protect endangered species and to resolve genetic determinants of devastating complex diseases such as HIV-AIDS and cancers. O’Brien is professor and research director at NSU where he applies his experience to genome bioinformatics of marine vertebrate and invertebrate species in relation to ocean conservation with respect to reefs. He is an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Science.

Jennifer Koss is director of NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, which is involved with providing knowledge, information, and management activities. She manages day-to-day operations, coral conservation policy development, program implementation, budget development, and personnel, as well as domestic and international partnership building and program development. She will speak on specific NOAA U.S. coral reef initiatives.

Joanna Walczak is the Southeast Regional Administrator of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). She oversees multiple programs in the departmet’s Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection’s Southeast Region – Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves, Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve, Florida’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, Lignumvitae Aquatic Preserve, and is the state co-manager of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. She is the point of contact for the State of Florida on the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force and U.S. All Islands Coral Reef Committee. She will speak on Florida-specific coral reef initiatives.



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About Nova Southeastern University (NSU): At NSU, students don’t just get an education, they get the competitive edge they need for real careers, real contributions and real life. A dynamic, private research university, NSU is providing high-quality educational and research programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree levels. Established in 1964, the university includes 16 colleges, the 215,000-square-foot Center for Collaborative Research, a private JK-12 grade school, the Mailman Segal Center (early childhood education) with specialists in Autism, the world-class NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, and the Alvin Sherman Library, Research and Information Technology Center, one of Florida’s largest public libraries. NSU students learn at our campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Tampa, Florida, as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico, and online globally. Classified as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is one of only 50 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification, and is also the largest private institution in the United States that meets the U.S. Department of Education’s criteria as a Hispanic-serving Institution. Please visit www.nova.edu for more information.

About NSU’s Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography: The college provides high-quality undergraduate (bachelor’s degree) and graduate (master’s and doctoral degrees and certificates) education programs in a broad range of disciplines, including marine sciences, mathematics, biophysics, and chemistry. Researchers carry out innovative basic and applied research programs in coral reef biology, ecology, and geology; fish biology, ecology, and conservation; shark and billfish ecology; fisheries science; deep-sea organismal biology and ecology; invertebrate and vertebrate genomics, genetics, molecular ecology, and evolution; microbiology; biodiversity; observation and modeling of large-scale ocean circulation, coastal dynamics, and ocean atmosphere coupling; benthic habitat mapping; biodiversity; histology; and calcification. The college’s newest building is the state-of-the-art Guy Harvey Oceanographic Center, an 86,000-square-foot structure filled with laboratories; offices; seminar rooms; an auditorium; and indoor and outdoor running sea water facilities. Please visit cnso.nova.edu for more information.