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The Baker Lab Team

Research Assistant Professor

Dr. Shelby McIlroy Contact:

Research Assistant Professor
Ph.D. (University of Buffalo), M.S. (Moss Landing), B.S. (Univ. of Florida)


My research interests centre on understanding the role of diversity, both genetic and functional, in the ecology and evolution of marine communities. I approach this question from three perspectives: 1) What ecological mechanisms structure the coral microbiome and how does symbiont diversity affect coral resilience? 2) How does species diversity within a community affect ecosystem function and ecosystem resilience? 3.) How does functional diversity (e.g., physiological plasticity) affect species distributions and their response to global change?



Dr. Isis Guibert Contact:

Post-doctoral Fellow
Ph.D. (Sorbonne) , M.Sc., B.Sc. (Aix Marseille)

My research is broadly centred on investigating the biodiversity and how anthropogenic stressors influence the biodiversity, as well as understanding how changes in the abiotic environment impact symbiotic organism’s physiology. I have taken an integrative approach combining cytology, chemistry (LC/MS, GC/MS, SIA) and genetics (metabarcoding, metagenomics) to investigate these questions.


Dr. Jon Cybulski Contact:

SIRMS Post-doctoral Fellow
Ph.D. Student: Ecology & Biodiversity (HKU-SWIMS)
M.S. Environmental Sciences (American University)

I am a historical ecologist and science communicator interested in contextualizing ecosystems of the past in order to understand, conserve, and restore them for the future. I use a combination of historical research, archaeology, ecology, and biogeochemical methods in order to quantify changes in biodiversity, marine systems, and nutrient regimes through time. Through my science communication and storytelling, I hope to accomplish one main goal: humanize science and those who practice it, to foster its understanding and appreciation for all.

Graduate Students

Joe Brennan Contact:

Ph.D. Candidate: Ecology & Biodiversity (HKU-SWIMS)
B.A. Marine Biology (Florida International University)

Throughout my PhD, I will focus on how coral-algal symbiosis is effected by the combined influence of environmental and anthropogenic stressors. My research looks into these effects by observing changes in coral and algal physiology in order to assess the overall health of the coral holobiont. This focus may benefit humankind in our ability to predict how different symbiotic organisms manipulate physiological function in order to handle reoccurring events of stress that may become more common in the near future.  

Emily Chei Contact:

Ph.D. Candidate: Ecology & Biodiversity (HKU-SWIMS)
B.S. Env. & Sustainability Science (Cornell University)

My research is focused on anthropogenic effects on reef resilience and bleaching tolerance. I am particularly interested in how symbiosis is affected by nutrient pollution from wastewater effluent and land use in coastal cities. Using stable isotope analysis, I will examine coral trophic strategies to better understand their symbiotic relationships in changing environmental conditions through both time and space. 


Alison Corley contact:  

Ph.D. Student: Ecology & Biodiversity (HKU-SWIMS)
B.A. Environmental Science (Barnard College, Colombia University)

Working as a research assistant at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, I explored the possibilities of applying geochemical methods to core into archives below the seafloor to decipher the history of Earth’s climate. Following the massive global coral bleaching event of 2014-2017, I recognized that I wanted to apply this passion for the past towards studying the ecosystem dynamics of coral communities in marginal environments. Over the course of my Ph.D program, I look forward to expanding my research into the domain of historical ecology – applying geochemical and molecular tools towards better understanding the biological mechanisms that drive my most favorite biome on broad temporal scales. Outside of my academic interests, I love embroidery, science fiction, and growing plants on my windowsill."

Róisín Hayden contact:  

Ph.D. Student: Ecology & Biodiversity (HKU-SWIMS)
B.Sc. Environmental Biology (University College Dublin)
Over the course of my PhD, my research will focus on the ecological interactions that structure the coral microbiome. I am motivated to understand how these processes contribute to natural coral resilience, and how they can be used to inform and improve our conservation efforts in the face of increasing global change.

Chloe Webster contact:

Ph.D. Student: Ecology & Biodiversity (HKU)
MRes Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation (UCL)
B.Sc. Biology (Royal Holloway, University of London)​


Having a broad interest in applied conservation, ecology, and evolutionary biology, I've conducted a wide array of research, from determining the thermal tolerance of intertidal dwarf cuttlefish in Indonesia in my bachelor's at Royal Holloway University, London, to testing the impact of cod-fishing on benthic sponge and coral communities around Iceland for my Master's degree in University College London. In Hong Kong I perused my interest in marine biology using DNA barcoding techniques to identify species of shark being illegally traded into Hong Kong. I then progressed into a PhD on developing genetic techniques for questions about endangered wildlife that are of trade and conservation concern. However, I moved away from the marine environment into the aboreal and aerial, with particular focus on a critically endangered species of bird. My goal: to help figure out where the birds are being poached, what products are being bought and where, and to help create protocols to assist wildlife forensic labs with their enforcement efforts. 

Vriko Yu

PhD Student, Ecology & Biodiversity (HKU-SWIMS)
B.Sc. Natural Sciences (CUHK)

In the face of rapid climate change, reefs are being threatened and deteriorating unprecedentedly on a global scale. Coral restoration has emerged in recent decades to mitigate net loss and consequences. My research aims to form a scientific foundation for coral restoration to foster resilience-based reef management in the South China Sea. Specifically, I will investigate 1) the population structure and connectivity of zebra corals (Oulastrea crispata) in the South China Sea; 2) the physiological trade-offs of micro-fragmentation, 3) the effectiveness of 3D-printed artificial reefs in biodiversity enhancement and ecosystem functioning, and 4) the application of adaptive management in the restoration practices in the region. Outside of the research world, I have been actively engaged in promoting coral reef conservation in the region – serving as the Assistant Director and Eco Diver Instructor for Reef Check Hong Kong to promote citizen science in Hong Kong, Mainland China and Taiwan. I also serve as the Education Committee for World Wide Fund (WWF-HK) to set year plans to integrate conservation into the education systems.


Research Assistants

Taneisha Barrett Contact: 

Research Assistant - Conservation Forensics
MPhil Zoology (UWI, Mona)​
BSc Biochemistry and Zoology (UWI, Mona)

Following my undergraduate I worked as a Laboratory Assistant (demonstrator) in the Departments of Biochemistry and Life Sciences at UWI, Mona. My interest for scientific research was renewed when I was introduced to the field of Forensic Entomology in 2013. I joined HKU to work as a research assistant in the Conservation Forensics Lab to support research on wildlife trade. I am currently working on a pangolin genoscape study (white- bellied pangolins) and a pangolin research and monitoring project (Chinese pangolins).

Zhongyue Wilson Wan Contact:

Research Assistant
M.Sc. Environmental Management (HKU)

My work focuses on coral restoration. In particular, I look at how different restoration methodologies impact coral survival rate, health, and ecological function. I aim to identify optimal restoration methodology in sub-tropical Hong Kong areas to increase coral community resilience amidst a warming ocean. 

Tracey Prigge

Molecular Lab Manager
B.Sc. Zoology, M.Sc. Genetics (University of Pretoria)

Originally from South Africa Tracey received a BSc in Zoology and MSc in Genetics from The University of Pretoria. Her masters focused on the subcellular localization of Nonstructural protein NS3 of African Horsesickness virus. She has previously worked as a research assistant in the Forest Molecular Genetics Group at the University of Pretoria and currently acts as the Molecular Lab Manager supporting several of the ongoing projects. Tracey utilizes her molecular background to tackle wildlife trafficking in Hong Kong; using genetic data for species identification, determining sample origin, and mapping out trafficking routes along with using Stable Isotope Analysis as a forensic tool to monitor illegally trafficked wildlife. 

Haze Chung Contact: 

B.Sc. Environmental science, Ecology & Biodiversity (HKU)

Throughout my HKU environmental science degree Haze has worked in laboratories as well as for NGO's and government. organizations Learning from people with various conservation interests, ranging from illegal trade of endangered species to coral restoration. Through this work she acquired the skills to facilitate the research in the Baker’s lab and has assisted with the MarineGEO project. 

Wendy McLeod Contact:

B.Sc. Biological Sciences, HKU

After graduating from HKU Wendy has been fascinated by cnidarian symbiosis with diverse Symbiodiniaceae and microbes, which she investigated in the model jellyfish Cassiopea xamachana. In addition to managing the lab's jellyfish, she now assists with various projects including giant clam metabarcoding and the MarineGEO Network. 

Sally Cameron-Huff

B.Sc.H Geological Sciences (Queen's University)
P.Geol; AusIMM 

Sally has previously worked in mining as a professional geologist and in environmental communications. During her time at the Baker lab she has primarily been focused on assisting with the MarineGEO Network Project.

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