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Reem Al Mealla

Reem Al Mealla Smiles at the camera.

Reem Al Mealla



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Reem Al Mealla is a nature lover by default, a marine biologist graduate and a climate advocate by concern. Following the completion of her BSc. in Marine & Freshwater Biology at the University of Essex, she went on to do her MSc. in Ecology, Evolution & Conservation at Imperial College London. 

She gained her field experience through her work in Indonesia where she conducted her undergraduate dissertation on the behaviour of four species of butterfly fish in relation to reef quality in the Wakatobi Marine National Park and was awarded the Abel Imray Prize (joint) in 2010 from the University of Essex for this project. She then did her postgraduate thesis on investigating marine turtle nesting sites, local perceptions and conservation strategies in Northern Madagascar.

In Bahrain which is located in the Arabian Gulf, Reem has spent the past 5 years working in the environmental sector – some of her noteworthy accomplishments include serving as the National Project Manager for the Revision of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) Project in addition to establishing the preliminary foundation for the Implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety at a national level and Bahrain’s first online environmental platform – bnature.


Current Research

Accretional health of reefs in the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean


Coral reefs are the result of long term net calcium carbonate (CaCO3) accretion, which is a combined result of net CaCO3 by calcifying primary and secondary reef builders and destructive biophysical processes caused by bioeroders. Coral calcification is influenced by environmental conditions (e.g. temperature, depth and ocean acidification) and depends on symbiotic partnership between the coral and its dinoflagellate algae (Symbiodinium). When a coral encounters stress, the symbiosis breaks down thereby resulting in coral bleaching which impacts reef calcification in the short and long term. In order to effectively monitor reef health it is essential to determine the current status of reef environments and whether reef frameworks are actively accreting CaCO3 or being eroded away. Recent research has demonstrated that different clades and sub-clades of Symbiodinium spp. display varying tolerance to both heat and light stress. Symbiodinium thermophilum sp. nov. (clade C) a thermotolerant symbiotic algae, is prevalent in corals situated in the world's hottest sea, the Persian-Arabian Gulf (PAG), contradicting previous published results claiming that Clade D was dominant. Similarly regional studies across the Western Indian Ocean (WIO), indicate that Symbiodinium spp. of clade C are the most dominant. This study aims to determine accretional health in Bahrain (PAG) and the Seychelles (WIO) whilst investigating the cost-benefit of their coral’s symbionts during both stressed and non-stressed enviornmental conditions, as compared to global reference sites.




Abel-Imray Prize – Joint Award(2010)

Motivational, Empowering & Inspirational [M.E.I] Women Award (2017) from the University of Essex




RCUK 2016

EnvExpo 2017 [Poster Presentation]


Research group(s)/Laboratories etc

Coral Lab - Coral Reef Research Unit – University of Essex

Primary Supervisor: Dr. Leanne Hepburn

Secondary Supervisor: Prof. David Smith


Other activities

Dissertation Project Leader – Indonesia Expedition (2017) – Operation Wallacea


Personal Website