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Madeleine van Oppen

Madeleine was originally trained in marine ecology, developed as an ecological geneticist post-BSc and began to study corals in 1997 and coral-associated microorganism in 2000.

Her microbial studies were initially limited to the dinoflagellate endosymbionts of corals, but in the past 5+ years she has ventured into the study of other microbial groups that inhabit corals, including prokaryotes, viruses, and most recently, fungi.

Madeleine’s current research focuses on the field of coral reef restoration, in particular the development of coral stock better able to cope with disturbed environments and predicted future ocean conditions.

This includes the manipulation of microbial communities associated with corals, laboratory evolution of algal endosymbionts, selective breeding of corals, and the conditioning (i.e., transgenerational acclimation) of corals to predicted future ocean conditions (i.e., assisted evolution).

She is now also exploring synthetic biology as an approach to increase climate resilience of corals.


  • 2011–present
    ARC Future Fellow, Australian Institute of Marine Science
  • 2011–present
    Senior Principal Research Scientist, Australian Institute of Marine Science
  • 2015–present
    Professor, University of Melbourne
  • 2001–2011
    Research Scientist, Australian Institute of Marine Science


  • 1995 
    University of Groningen, The Netherlands, PhD