Dr. Alina W. Szmant (US) has five decades experience studying coral reef ecology. She was a pioneer in the study of the physiological ecology and reproductive biology of Caribbean reef corals among many research topics. She is retired and Adjunct Professor at UNCW. During her last 10 years at UNCW she led the development of an innovative diver-portable underwater respirometer that measures the ‘vital signs’ of corals in their natural environment; she is the CEO of CISME Instruments, LLC, a company founded to commercialize it. She served on the Scientific Technical Advisory Committee to the Water Quality Plan for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary from 1994 to 2004, and participated in numerous regional, national and international workshops to consider issues affecting coral reef ecosystems. Before joining UNCW in 1999, Szmant was a Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (1983-1999), a research faculty at Florida State University (1980-1983) and research staff at the University of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Nuclear Center (1970-1973). She obtained a B.S. in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico in 1966, a M.S. in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1970, and a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island in 1980. She was a member of the first all-female team of aquanauts to conduct scientific research in an underwater habitat, during the Tektite II Program in 1970. She was awarded the AAUS Scientific Diving Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.
Photo by Daniel Baden, American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS)