National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow - Richard Coleman

My research interest encompass many areas but is primarily focused on evolutionary patterns of reef fishes – phylogeography, population genetics and hybridization. Specifically I am interested in how different life history strategies shape connectivity patterns. I am interested in how biodiversity is generated in marine systems and its application towards informing management policies.  

During the past three years as an NSF GRFP Fellow I have been afforded many opportunities to conduct research that allows me to investigate these interests. Many of these approaches have involved the use of recent advancements in molecular genetics such as next-generation sequencing (RAD sequencing) as well as technological advances in diving. During my tenure I have received training on close-circuit rebreathers as well as decompression and trimix training to allow me to collect specimens and survey mesophotic fish communities at depths that begin at 30 m (~100 ft) to greater than 100 m (~330 ft).  This is an area that is largely unexplored, a fact highlighted by our teams ability to recover several new species that are new to science during each mesophotic expedition. 

I have participated in many research expeditions that have brought me to all areas of the globe including the Phoenix Islands, American Samoa, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Johnston Atoll, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. Each of these expeditions has led to collaborations, with both domestic and international researchers, on several projects. To date, I have one primary author publication that was recently accepted into a top tier peer reviewed journal and have two manuscripts in which I am a co-author currently in review. Additionally, I have presented my NSF supported research at several international and domestic conferences.

My experience as an NSF GRFP Fellow has thus far been very formative towards my path of becoming an evolutionary biologist. I anticipate the knowledge I have gained and the relationships that I have developed will have long term benefits that will persist beyond my graduate education.

Richard Coleman
NSF Graduate Research Fellow