Susana Carvalho

When did you first find out that you wanted to be scientist? During my Bachelor Degree in Biology (University of Aveiro, Portugal) and during my MSc (Coastal Zone Sciences), I found my way to the Benthic Ecology.
Tell us something about your background and main research interests I am a benthic ecologist mainly working in environmental impact assessment using interdisciplinary approaches. So far, my research has mainly focused on the effects of human pressures at the community level. However, now I am integrating information gathered at multiple biological organization levels (from gene to community) and from different taxonomic components (prokaryotes and metazoans) to have a more comprehensive understanding of the effects of human pressures on the marine ecosystem.
What do you like most about your work? Currently, to have the possibility to contribute to the conservation of a unique system such as the Red Sea.
What is your role in DEVOTES project? I am collaborating in the validation of the innovative molecular approaches to quantify biodiversity. To date, I have been following the traditional approach in my research (i.e. biodiversity indices are calculated based on morpho-taxonomic analyses) but I am really interested in combining both approaches. I think we are moving to a new era in the large-scale monitoring of marine ecosystems and next generation sequencing will play a major role in future monitoring programs.  
How do you think your work in DEVOTES will contribute to the implementation of the EU marine strategy framework directive? KAUST is mainly involved in the application of metagenetic and metagenomic approaches to assess biodiversity. Considering the reduction in sequencing costs, the validation of these innovative approaches will have a major impact in the future monitoring of marine ecosystems and consequently the implementation of the EU marine strategy framework directive. We expect that these approaches will allow the assessment of structural and functional biodiversity in a shorter period of time, which will boost our ability to detect changes in marine ecosystems.
What´s the relevance for your institute and country to participate in DEVOTES? We will benefit from the knowledge concerning the use of indicators to assess environmental status of marine ecosystems. At the same time KAUST will have the opportunity to contribute to the development and validation of innovative monitoring techniques that can be applied at a global scale. The outcomes of DEVOTES will then contribute to the management and conservation of the Red Sea.
What´s your recommended reading list for someone wanting to know more about marine environment and DEVOTES topic? I suggest people to visit the KAUST website ( and have a look at the research that is currently being undertaken in the university. Namely, in the Red Sea Research Center (, next generation sequencing is being applied to investigate the ecology of planktonic and benthic organisms as well as microbial communities in the Red Sea. Underwater gliders are being use to provide real-time mapping and telemetry of hydrographic and related variables that are then used for assimilation into real-time models.