Bette Willis is a Professor in the School of Marine and Tropical Biology and Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. Her research focusses on questions relating to the biology and ecology of scleractinian corals, particularly on questions relating to the health of reef corals in an era of climate change and increasing anthropogenic impacts. She has published more than 125 peer-reviewed publications, including 5 in Nature, Science and Nature Climate Change, 7 book chapters, and 5 major reviews (e.g. Annual Reviews of Marine Biology, Annual Reviews of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics). She has supervised 100 postgraduate students, including PhD (39), MSc (35) and Honours (16) students.
Her current research strives to understand inter-kingdom symbiotic partnerships that underpin coral health and factors driving outbreaks of coral disease, both on the Great Barrier Reef and globally. She is involved in various international working groups and networks aimed at furthering understanding of the ecology of infectious diseases in corals and in raising the profile of coral health issues throughout the Indo-Pacific. By exploring the dynamics of coral-microbial associations and how flexibility in symbiotic partnerships affects tolerance to environmental stressors, Willis and her research group are exploring the potential of corals to acclimatise and adapt to a changing world.