Katharina Fabricius, PhD
I am a marine ecologist specialized in coral reef research. Having grown up in Germany far away from the sea, I got fascinated in marine issues early during my studies at the University of Munich and first went to work on the Australian Great Barrier Reef in 1988-89. Not surprisingly, I was immediately hooked on coral reef research, but my first visit also confronted me with the scientific debates about the causes and consequences of outbreaks of the coral-eating crown-of-thorns sea star. A new research project brought me back to the Great Barrier Reef and to the Red Sea, for which I was awarded with a PhD by the University of Munich in Germany in 1995. Around 2000 hours diving in many of the world's coral reefs have given me the opportunity to get to see the fascinating diversity and overwhelming beauty of coral reefs, but has also given me first-hand experience of the ongoing serious degradation of many coral reefs from nutrient enrichment, crown-of-thorns seastar, coral bleaching caused by global climate change and overfishing.
I am presently holding a position as a Senior Research Scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville. My main research interest is trying to understand how terrestrial runoff (the enrichment of coastal waters with nutrients and sediments from land-based activities) affects coral reefs. This is a very broad and complex field of research, as nutrient enrichment directly affects corals, but also promotes organisms that detrimentally affect corals, in particular the crown-of-thorns sea star and macroalgae. To date, I have produced about 50 publications in leading international scientific journals and have written a comprehensive book on Indo-Pacific soft corals and sea fans. I strongly believe that as scientists we have a responsibility to communicate our findings not only to peers but also to the broader public and decision makers. Good science and clear science communication are our best chance to help making the right decisions towards a more sustainable future in which the natural environment and humans can coexist.
Australian Institute of Marine Science
Cooperative Research Centre for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area