Juan Rivera Cifuentes

Master's Student



Juan Fernando was born in Cali, Colombia, a tropical city surrounded by mountains and a few hours from the Colombian Pacific coast. His jump into the underwater world occurred during the 4th year of his training as a biologist, at the Universidad del Valle, when he enrolled in the Marine Ecology course. During the field trip of this course to Gorgona Island, he saw coral reefs for the first time and he fell so in love with them, that he ended up getting his diving certification and enrolling in all available marine courses the following two semesters. Since then, he literally got immersed in the Eastern Tropical Pacific coral reefs and their fishes.

Juan was an active member of the Coral Reef Ecology Research Group, where he developed his B.Sc. thesis in which he evaluated the functional diversity and redundancy of the fish community on three coral reefs at Gorgona Island. As a member of this group, Juan also has been able to participate three times in the annual monitoring of Gorgona Island’s coral reefs, conducting visual censuses of coral reef fishes to estimate their richness and abundance. Last year, Juan was awarded with a Young Scientists scholarship and joined the Estuaries and Mangrove Ecology Research Group to work with functional diversity and trophic webs of the Colombian mangrove's fish assemblage. In addition, Juan worked as a biology teacher at a local high school, allowing him to gain valuable science communication skills.

Juan joined the Reef Ecology Lab in 2022 as a master's student and, while he would like to keep studying the field of functional ecology of coral reef fishes, he also wants to explore other areas of research and use molecular tools that would provide a deeper and more complete understanding of coral reefs functioning and that will enable us to better manage and protect these ecosystems.