Daniel J. Thornhill

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Conservation Scientist

Dan Thornhill, Coral Reef Marine ScientistAreas of Expertise: Marine biology and ecology; coral reefs; deep-sea biology; symbiosis; population genetics; ecology and evolutionary biology; the biological impacts of climate changeĀ 

Dan conducts original basic and applied research at Defenders while providing science-based advice for marine conservation and education programs. His focus is on the conservation of coral reef ecosystems. He works closely with the staff at Defenders, colleagues in academia, and staff at other conservation organizations with a similar interest in the protection and sustainability of coral reefs.

Before joining Defenders in 2010, Dan was the Doherty Marine Biology Postdoctoral Scholar and a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bowdoin College where he conducted research, mentored students, and taught courses on coral reefs and evolutionary biology. Prior to that, he spent several years working in marine ecology as a research fellow at Auburn University, the University of Georgia, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. His research program includes work on coral reefs, deep-sea chemosynthetic environments, the waters surrounding Antarctica, Norwegian fjords, the Gulf of Maine, and other areas. He has published over 20 peer-reviewed scientific papers to date on a wide range of topics in marine science, with work featured in the journals Molecular Ecology, PLoS One, Coral Reefs, Limnology and Oceanography, Marine Ecology Progress Series, Marine Biology, and many others.

Dan received a Bachelor of Science in zoology and environmental biology from Michigan State University. He did his Ph.D. in ecology from the Institute of Ecology at the University of Georgia. His dissertation examined the nature of coral-algal symbiosis and how reef-building corals respond to climate change.