Short CV

Short CV

2016           Ph.D. – University of South Florida (USF) – Marine Resource Assessment Program
                    Graduation Date: December 2016        
                                Dissertation Title: Influence of water quality variability on stony coral                                                               diversity and net community productivity in the Florida Keys
2008            M.S. – University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez (UPRM) – Marine Science
2004            B.S. – University of Puerto Rico – Humacao (UPRH) – Coastal Marine Biology

Liu G, Heron S, Eakin M, Muller-Karger FE, Vega-Rodriguez M, Guild LS, De la Cour JL, Geiger EF, Skriving WJ, Burgess TFR, Strong AE, Harris A, Maturi E, Ignatov A, Sapper J, Li J, Lynds S (2014) Reef- scale Thermal Stress Monitoring of Coral Ecosystems: New Global Products from NOAA Coral Reef Watch. Remote Sensing 611579-11606; doi:10.3390/rs61111579

Vega-Rodriguez M, Muller-Karger FE, Hallock-Muller P, Quiles-Perez G, Mark CE, Colella M, Jones DL, Li J, Soto I, Guild L, Lynds S, Ruzicka R (2015) Influence of water temperature variability on stony coral diversity of Florida Keys patch reefs. Marine Ecology Progress Series 528: 173-186

Turk D, Yates K, Vega-Rodriguez M, Toro-Farmer G, L’Esperance C, Melo N, Ramsewak D, Dowd M, Cerdeira-Estrada S, Muller-Karger FE, Herwitz SR, McGillis WR (2015) Community metabolism in shallow coral reef and seagrass ecosystems, Lower Florida Keys. Marine Ecology Progress Series 538: 35-52

Toro-Farmer G, Muller-Karger FE, Vega-Rodriguez M, Melo N, Yates K, Cerdeira-Estrada S, Herwitz SR (2016) Characterization of available light for seagrass and patch reef productivity in the Florida Keys. Remote Sensing 8(2): doi: 10.3390/rs8020086


Vega-Rodriguez M, Toro-Farmer G, Yates K, Melo N, Ramsewak D, Cerdeira S, Turk D, Herwitz SR, Muller-Karger FE. Daily net community production and stony coral photosynthetic efficiency as a function of water turbidity in shallow-reef environments of the Florida Keys. Under review by PLoS ONE.

Vega-Rodriguez M, Chapa N, Schubert N, Jaap W, Toro-Farmer G, Muller-Karger FE. Pushing stony coral Orbicella faveolata to its limits: response to extreme cold and warm water temperatures in low light environments. Under review by Biology Open.

2016               USF Dissertation Completion Fellowship
2011 & 2015   USF-CMS Bridge to the Doctorate Endowed Fellowship
2011 & 2015   Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Scholar
2012 – 2015   NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship
2015                22st Annual Compact for Faculty Diversity’s Institute for Teaching and Mentoring
2014                21st Annual Compact for Faculty Diversity’s Institute for Teaching and Mentoring
2013                20st Annual Compact for Faculty Diversity’s Institute for Teaching and Mentoring
2012               American Society of Limnology and Oceanography 2012 Multicultural Program
2011                Achievement Rewards for College Students (ARCS) Scholar Foundation, Tampa Bay
2010 – 2012  NSF Florida Georgia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation – Bridge to the Doctorate Program
2007                Sea Grant – UPRM Travel Grant
2003 – 2004   McNair Scholar from the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Scholars Program at the UPRH
2002 – 2004   Faculty in Training for the ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Program
2001 – 2003   Puerto Rico – Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (PR- LSAMP).  Research Grant

Invited Talks:
2016    Panelist – Title: The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary as a sentinel site for a demonstration Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON). Session: New Tools for Reef Resilience. Florida Reef Resilience Program’s 10-year Anniversary Symposium.

Selected/Recent Oral Presentations:
2016    Vega-Rodriguez M, et al. Spatiotemporal changes in net community productivity, stony coral photosynthetic efficiency and water turbidity in shallow reef environments of the Florida Keys. 13th International Coral Reef Symposium. Honolulu, Hawaii.

2016    Vega-Rodriguez M, et al. Influence of water-temperature variability on stony coral diversity in Florida Keys patch reefs. USF CMS 32nd Graduate Student Symposium. Saint Petersburg, Fl., USA.

2012    Vega-Rodriguez M, et al. High-resolution thermal stress indices for regional coral bleaching forecasts. 12th International Coral Reef Symposium.  Cairns, Australia.

2009    Vega-Rodriguez M. Remote Sensing of LAI and Net Primary Productivity. XVIII Symposium of Flora and Fauna of the Caribbean. University of Puerto Rico, Humacao Campus.

Selected/Recent Poster Presentations:
2015    Vega-Rodriguez M, et al. Coral diversity in Florida Keys patch reefs relative to water-temperature variability. USF 7th Annual Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Scholar Research Symposium.

2013    Vega-Rodriguez M, et al. Florida Keys coral reef diversity buffered by intermediate sea surface temperature variability. NASA Biodiversity and Ecological Forecasting Team Meeting. Washington, DC., USA.

2012     Vega-Rodriguez M, et al. Developing High – Resolution SST Climatologies and Thermal Stress Indices to Enhance NOAA’S Coral Reef Decision Support System. Ocean Sciences Meeting held in Utah, USA.

2011    Vega-Rodriguez M, Developing high – resolution thermal stress indices to enhance regional coral bleaching forecaststhrough NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch decision support system: Cold stress case study. NASA Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems Joint Science Workshop. Washington, DC., USA.

2010    Muller-Karger FE, Eakin CM, Guild L, Hu C, Vega-Rodriguez M, et al. A Decision-Support System for Ecosystem-Based Management of Tropical Coral Reef Environments. NASA Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems Joint Science Workshop. Washington, DC., USA.

Formal Teaching

  • University of South Florida

Fall 2014        Undergraduate-level course

          Co-Instructor: (OCE2001) Introduction to Oceanography course

  • University of South Florida 

Summer 2011  USF-CMS Oceanography Camp for Girls

          Science Leader:  Ocean color and remote sensing module

  • New College in Florida  

Summer 2014     High School-level course sponsored by Duke University Talent  Identification Program Field Studies

          Instructor Counselor: Marine Biology in the Gulf of Mexico

Student Research Mentoring

  • University of South Florida

Summer 2015  NSF Research for Undergraduate Experience (REU) – Tampa  Interdisciplinary Environmental Research

Professional Development Mentoring

  • Spring 2016     National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity

         Peer Mentor for finishing PhD.  students enrolled in the Dissertation Success Program

2013 – 2016   Outreach Coordinator – Institute for Marine Remote Sensing (IMaRS) –  USF-CMS
2015                Co-OrganizerSt. Petersburg Science Festival Promotional Tour Subcommittee
2012                Organizer – IMaRS: Ocean Color and Remote Sensing Booth, St.Pete Science Festival
2006 – 2008   Education and Outreach Provider at the University of Puerto Rico
2001                Vice President of the University of Puerto Rico, Humacao Coastal Marine Biology Students Association

Media Coverage 
2015                 Studio 10 Live –Tampa Bay10 News: 5-min TV interview on my research and  involvement with the ARCS Foundation
2014                Cadena Radio Universidad de Puerto Rico – Public Radio: Invited expert to provide insights on the health of Caribbean coral reefs in radio report.
2010                El Nuevo Día – Puerto Rico (ENDI)  – National Newspaper: Interview for news article “Contaminación en las playas de Culebra

Extracurricular Activities
2015 – 2016  Club Secretary – Toastmasters International – Toast of the Bay (Club 4145)
2014         Education and Outreach Volunteer specialist – Tampa Bay Estuary program
2014         Timekeeper – USF National Ocean Sciences Regional Competition Spoonbill Bowl
2011         USF-Oceanography Camp for Girls Beach Cleanup at Clam Bayou St. Petersburg-Fl.
2011         Runner – USF National Ocean Sciences Regional Competition Spoonbill Bowl

2015    Research Assistant – R/V Walton Smith – University of Miami, Florida Key
2013    Research Assistant – R/V Virginia Key – University of Miami, Florida Keys
2012    Research Assistant – R/V Walton Smith – University of Miami, Florida Key
2012    Research Assistant – R/V Virginia Key – University of Miami, Florida Keys
2011    Research Assistant – R/V NOAA Nancy Foster, NOAA, Caribbean, USVI & Puerto Rico
2011    Research Assistant – R/V Walton Smith – University of Miami, Florida Keys

Scientific & Computer Software

  • Big data analyses and interdisciplinary research
  • Satellite-derived data (MODIS, AVHRR, IKONOS, Landsat)
  • Matlab, IDL, Python, R
  • ArcGIS, ENVI, SeaDAS, Coral Point Count with Excel Extensions (CPCe)
  • Microsoft Office, Acrobat Professional


  • Open-water, Advanced, Nitrox PADI diver &AAUS Scientific diver
  • Diving First Aid for Professional Divers (DAN certified)
  • CPR & Oxygen Provider

Writing and Public Speaking

  • Competent Communicator & Leader – Toastmaster International
  • Grant writing
  • Science Communication & Outreach
  • Strategic planning and organization


  • English & Spanish: fluent (speaking, writing, reading).
  • Brazilian Portuguese: basic (speaking)

2016    NASA Remote Sensing for Coastal and Ocean Applications
2015    edX: Denial101x: Making Sense of Climate Science Denial (online course)
2014    USF Presentation Boot Camp for Scientists
2014    Cornell University Satellite Remote Sensing Training
2008    National Autonomous University of Mexico and the Center of Scientific Investigations and Superior Education of Ensenada (CICESE), Mexico Light and photosynthesis on coral reefs course  
2003    Smithsonian Environmental Research Center – Mangrove Ecology


  • International Society for Reef Studies
  • American Society of Limnology and Oceanography
  • American Geophysical Union
  • The Oceanography Society
  • American Association for the Advancement in Science (AAAS)/Science Program for Excellence in Science
  • Toastmasters International – Toast of the Bay (Club 4145)