The Coral Symbiomics Lab
Red Sea Research Center
Division of Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering


Lucia Gastoldi



​I have always been interested in the ocean and its inhabitants. I strongly believe that to save our oceans we need to study the interrelationships between their inhabitants: it’s impossible to protect Nature without a good understanding of it. Therefore, after high school, I decided to turn this passion of mine into a career. My academic path started at Università degli Studi di Milano (Milan University) where I obtained my bachelor degree in Biology. Then, I moved to Ancona, at Università Politecnica delle Marche, where in 2014 I was awarded a Master of Science degree in Marine Biology with full marks. For my thesis, I studied feeding preferences in Mediterranean Nudibranch species, and investigated the possibility of using these organisms as biological indicators for environmental quality.

To continue my professional development, I applied and was awarded a scholarship for six months to conduct a research project at the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium in Checheng (Taiwan) under Professor Shao-En Peng's supervision.  My research focused on the symbiotic relationship between Aiptasia and Symbiodinium, and the results have been presented at “The OMICS in the Ocean 2015” (the 6th International Symposium for Marine Biology and Biotechnology). Under the guidance of my supervisors, I'm currently working on a paper summarising my findings, which will be submitted for peer review.

I heard about KAUST thanks to the "Coral-List" mailing list, where I found an open application for the Internship Program in Marine Biology about symbiosis between Aiptasia and Symbiodinium. I decided to apply for this program because I was interested in continuing my work on symbiosis and coral reef before starting my PhD in Italy. At KAUST, I worked under Professor Manuel Aranda's supervision for four months, during which I started to analyse the effects of specific chemicals in the establishment of symbiosis. The project will be expanded in the future, as my work identified several promising starting points for subsequent efforts in the lab.

Research Interests

​The purpose of my work is to understand as much as possible about the coral reef ecosystem in order to make it able to survive in these next few decades of global climate change: I know that this aim is very challenging but we need to start from somewhere--all the research and the studies would be crucial for us to take preventive action before the destruction becomes irreversible.


  • M.A. in Marine Biology, Università Politecnica delle Marche (2012-2014)
  • ​B.A. in Biological Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano (2009-2012)