The beauty and conservation of the Red Sea is a fundamental cornerstone of the value propositions being made by Vision 2030 projects and more explicitly by The Red Sea project. I am also collaborating with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture on efforts to address climate change and desertification, with a focus on the roles of mangroves and seagrass meadows.

Carlos Duarte is a Professor of Marine Science and the Tarek Ahmed Juffali Research Chair in Red Sea Ecology. He is a world-wide leader in multiple branches of biological oceanography and marine ecology.

Education and early career

Prof. Duarte has previously held faculty positions in the University of Western Australia, where he was the Director of the UWA Oceans Institute in Australia and the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEDEA) in Spain. He was adjunct faculty in University of Trømso in Norway and King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia. He received his Ph.D. degree in Limnology from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

Areas of expertise and current scientific interests

He established himself very early in his career as the world-wide leading authority on the ecology of seagrass meadows. He published on all aspects of seagrass ecology, from population biology to genetics, from depth and geographical distribution patterns to their role in biogeochemical cycles, and from conservation strategies to their sensitivity towards climate change. Prof. Carlos Duarte is probably the most versatile aquatic ecologist of his generation: he works from the tropics to polar ecosystems, from macrophytes to microbes, from coastal systems to open ocean gyres using all type of approaches. Many of his synthesis papers have set the stage for the field; e.g. his work initiated the discussion on the heterotrophic nature of oligotrophic systems and identified the role of hypoxia thresholds for marine biodiversity. His research is characterized by independence, creativity, serendipity and interdisciplinary linking, as well as the capacity to organize and collaborate with large interdisciplinary teams. Prof. Duarte's research is also characterized by versatility addressing marine ecosystems from the tropics to polar ecosystems, from macrophytes to microbes, and from coastal systems to open ocean gyres using a broad range of approaches.

Career recognitions

Prof. Duarte is a highly distinguished scientist who has received many awards throughout his career. He was most recently awarded the Blaise Pascal Medal given by the European Academy of Sciences for his contributions in advancing earth and environmental sciences and the Carlo Heip International Award for outstanding accomplishments in marine biodiversity science. He has also been named “Highly Cited Scientist”, recognizing him as one of the most influential scientists in the world by Thompson Reuters, in all editions of the list to date. He was also elected President of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography. 

Editorial activities

He is currently the Editor in Chief of Frontiers in Marine Science and Associate Editor of a number of journals. He is currently a member of the editorial board of Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, Journal of Sea Research, Aquatic Living Resources, Journal of Marine Systems, Marine Biology Research, Scientia Marina, Hidrobiología (México) and Pukhet Marine Station (Thailand).

Why computational bioscience?

Because the growth in the volume of data available in our field generates computational challenges that represent the main bottle neck hindering progress in my field.


Because of the unique support KAUST provides to develop transdisciplinary research with top colleagues across a broad range of fields and minimize the administrative burden thereby freeing intellectual capacity to conduct high-level research.

Education Profile

  • B.SC. In Biology, Univ. Autónoma de Madrid, June 1982
  • Ph.D. in Limnology,  McGill University (Canada),  September 1987

Awards and Distinctions

  • G. Evelyn Hutchinson Award from the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography in 2001
  • National Science Award of Spain (2007)
  • King James I Award for Research on Environmental Protection (2009)
  • Silver Medal Cross of Merit from the Guardia Civil, Spain (2009)
  • Prix d’Excellence, International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (2011).
  • Honorary doctrate, Université de Québec a Montrèal (2010)
  • Honorary doctrate, Utrecht University (2012)
  • Blaise Pascal Medal, European Academy of Sciences (2018)
  • Carlo Heip International Award (2018)