He has spent his career studying coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean and the Pacific, including the Virgin Islands, the Grenadines, the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, Japan and Micronesia. He has served as President of the International Society for Reef Studies, the convener for the 13thInternational Coral Reef Symposium, the Science Advisor to the All-Islands Committee of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force and a science advisor for the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative. He is both an Aldo Leopold Fellow in Environmental Leadership and a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation. He presently serves as a member of the U.S. National Academies of Science expert committee on Interventions to Increase the Resilience of Coral Reefs.
His research interests include coral reef ecology, marine conservation biology, ecotoxicology, bridging science to management and policy, and the integration of traditional ecological knowledge with modern approaches to resource use and protection. His childhood fascination with “Dr. Doolittle” helped inspire his approach to studying coral reefs by “listening” to corals and other reef creatures through the use of ecological indicators and molecular biomarkers.