Joe grew up in Charleston, West Virginia (USA) among the majestic hills and valleys of America’s Appalachian Mountains and more than 1000 kilometers from the nearest coral reef. He was first drawn to marine research as an NSF-funded undergraduate fellow at Mote Marine Laboratory where he helped to develop a restoration plan for Florida’s ailing Atlantic bay scallop populations. After graduating summa cum laude in Biology from the University of Kentucky, Joe expanded his interests in marine science through short-term fellowships at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (Panama) and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Science (USA). Armed with new expertise in genetics and molecular biology, Joe was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to travel to Australia where he developed the first quantitative PCR assay to detect a known coral pathogen. Joe was granted a joint MSc for this work through the College of Charleston (USA), the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and James Cook University, but his passion for coral disease research and two excellent supervisors, Dr. David Bourne and Prof. Bette Willis, lured him back to Australia to continue this work. As an AIMS@JCU PhD student, Joe is currently employing the latest techniques in microbiology, genetics, histopathology, and disease ecology to untangle the interplay between the complex coral host, dynamic ocean environment, and poorly understood pathogens that leads to coral disease on Indo-Pacific reefs.