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The Baker Lab Team


Haoya Tong  Contact:

Ph.D. (HKUST), B.Sc. (Nanjing University)

I specialize in coral reef ecology, with a keen focus on the molecular ecology of corals. My research primarily explores coral resilience, acclimation and adaptation, alongside conservation efforts in the context of human activities and ongoing climate change. Employing an integrative approach that encompasses physiology, genomics, metabolomics, and modeling, my goal is to unravel the response mechanisms of the coral holobiont to diverse stressors. Through this, I aim to identify and develop effective strategies for coral conservation.

Graduate Students

Mengjin Tim Zhang Contact:

Ph.D. Student: Ecology & Biodiversity (HKU)
B.S. Evolution & Ecology;
B.S. Applied Mathematics (The Ohio State University)

After receiving Bachelor’s Degrees from The Ohio State University and working as a research intern at the Smithsonian NMNH, I joined the lab in Fall 2023 as a new Ph.D. student. My research interest lies within marine invertebrate diversity and coral reef ecology. Specifically, I am interested in how urbanized environments and anthropogenic stresses affect biodiversity and the implications for future conservation. Throughout my Ph.D. journey, I will investigate these topics utilizing a combination of ecological, molecular, and genomic approaches.

Zhongyue Wilson Wan Contact:

Ph.D. Student: Ecology & Biodiversity (HKU-SWIMS)
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. 

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. 


Róisín Hayden contact:  

Ph.D. Candidate: 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.

Alison Corley contact:  

Ph.D. Candidate: 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."

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

Horace Lau Contact:

B.Sc. Biology (CUHK)

After my undergraduate study in biology at CUHK, I have continued to work as an assistant education officer at Archireef, aiming to pass the knowledge of coral and marine ecosystems to the general public. As a part of the Baker Lab, I primarily focus on monitoring the restored coral transplants on 3D-printed artificial reef tiles and the surrounding biodiversity in Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park.

Cody Cheuk Fung Wong Contact:

M.Phil. Biology (CUHK)
B.Sc. Environmental Science and Management (CityU)

Following my M.Phil study on the evolution of molting hormone in the arthropods at CUHK, I joined the Baker’s lab as a research assistant to support research on blue carbon ecosystems and the marineGEO project. In particular, my works focus on how anthropogenic stressors affect carbon stability and how biodiversity may increase resistance to stress of a community. I am also interested in evolutionary biology and I am currently helping on a coral population genomics project.

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