KAUST Reefscape Restoration Initiative
Professor David Suggett is Chief Scientist for the KAUST Reefscape Restoration Initiative (KRRI) at Shushah Island and a Professor in Practice at KAUST. He is a world leading expert in coral biology and how corals shape the functioning of reef systems, from scales spanning coral reef microbes to human-ecological interactions. Prior to moving to KAUST in 2023, he was Professor at University of Technology Sydney, where he established and led the “Future Reefs” Program (2013-2022), dedicated to unlocking how the environment and climate change influence corals of the Great Barrier Reef. Major research areas was development of novel technologies to unlock metabolic physiology (bio-optics, metabolomics, volatilomics) applied to understand coral fitness responses to stressors – notably heat stress induced coral bleaching. This interest led to a world-first partnership between researchers and tourism (the largest economic asset to the Great Barrier Reef) to restore degraded sites at scale, the “Coral Nurture Program”, which he co-founded and led for 4 years. Work through the Coral Nurture Program has led to innovative methods to propagate and plant coral under diverse reef conditions by local stakeholders, and in recognition as a global model for successful targeted reef restoration, become an official Actor for the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration in 2022. This work has pioneered new research platforms to guide optimized reef restoration practices and a unique model for Great Barrier Reef management. Professor Suggett has contributed to numerous international committees and workshops for studying and conserving coral reefs, and is currently the Chair for the Field-Based Propagation Working Group for the Coral Restoration Consortium – the international body dedicated to advancing knowledge on reef restoration. His research has produced >200 scientific articles and has been regularly featured through global media outlets, including the BBC, Discovery Channel, Al Jazeera and National Geographic.