Dr Mark Vermeij has been appointed professor of Tropical Marine Ecology at the Faculty of Science at the University of Amsterdam (UvA).
Vermeij has worked on coral reef systems for a little over 20 years, during which time his research has focused on the evolutionary and ecological dynamics of benthic marine organisms, with particular emphasis on corals, algae and, more recently, microbes. He has a particular interest in the life history strategies of corals, and how they survive during their earliest life stages. He has also worked extensively with several international colleagues on the microbiome of corals, which has led to a series of new discoveries, for instance of coral-infecting apicomplexans. Vermeij has conducted research throughout the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Vermeij attributes great value to the use of scientific studies to support decision-making for marine conservation. As a consequence he also has a part-time appointment as research and deputy director at Carmabi, a marine research station on Curaçao that is also involved in the management of the island’s national parks and local programmes focussed on nature education. He regularly works together with the governments of Curaçao and other Caribbean islands to improve the management of Caribbean reef systems. On Curaçao, he led a successful proposal for the establishment of five nature reserves protected under the international RAMSAR Treaty, and was involved in the establishment of the marine park and several no-fishing zones around the island.
As an UvA professor, Vermeij will continue to focus on understanding to what degree organismal relationships contribute to the organisation and structure of coral reef communities. He will also look at the reproductive biology and earliest life stages of coral species whose earliest phases are not yet well understood. Vermeij plans to focus on such hidden structuring processes operating on coral reefs in the near future and will continue to translate his scientific conclusions into recommendations and policy advice for governments throughout the Caribbean and beyond.
Vermeij will also play an important role in teaching in, among others, the MSc Biological Sciences, and specifically in the MSc track Freshwater and Marine Biology.
Vermeij obtained his PhD in Tropical Marine Ecology in 2002 from the UvA after which he took a post-doc position at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Miami till 2008. From from 2005 to 2008, he was an associate researcher at the University of Hawaii at Manoa after which joined Carmabi on Curaçao. In 2009 he started a joint appointment at UvA and Carmabi, first as an assistant professor and as an associate professor at UvA as of 2013.
Vermeij is on the board of, among others, the Dutch coral research network AcroporaNet, the SECORE Board of Scientific Advisors, and the Executive Board of the Association of Marine Laboratories in the Caribbean (AMLC) and a topic editor for the journal Coral Reefs (2011 – present), as well as a reviewer for numerous scientific journals, including Ecology, Nature, PNAS, and Conservation Biology.