Anna Knochel

Master's Student


Research Interests

Anna grew up in Boise, Idaho. She attended Rice University where she earned her B.S. degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2019. Early on, she fell in love with coral reef ecosystems and studied abroad in Australia where she witnessed the devastation of the third global bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef. While there, her work at James Cook University focused on comparing varying fluorescent protein expression between bleached and healthy corals. Later on, Anna investigated coral bleaching pathways using antioxidant therapy trials through the Monda Scholarship at Mote Marine Laboratory. Before her senior year, she spent a summer in Woods Hole, Massachusetts through the Partnership in Education Program, where she used scanning laser confocal microscopy and fluorescent in situ hybridization to image early bacterial colonizers on marine plastic debris at the Marine Biological Laboratory. As a member of the coral reef microbiology lab at Rice, Anna participated in two research cruises in the Gulf of Mexico, organized manta identification photos for the Flower Garden Banks database, and traveled to Mo’orea, French Polynesia to study the effects of nitrogen loading on coral planulae and investigate a mass coral bleaching event. She received departmental distinction for her senior thesis focused on viral contributions to the destabilization of the coral-Symbiodiniaceae symbiosis.

At KAUST, Anna will continue to study the effects of anthropogenic disturbance on coral reefs. For her thesis work, she will be shifting gears and investigating the skin microbiomes of manta rays with the support of a Rolex Grant provided by the Explorers Club, and the Wagoner Foreign Study Scholarship. She remains broadly interested in coral acclimatization and adaptation, the stability of the coral-algal symbiosis, microbial ecology, elasmobranch biology and ecology, and marine conservation.​