Tali Vardi, Ph.D
Director of Natural & Social Sciences
For more than 15 years Tali has conducted fieldwork in the Caribbean focused on the disappearance of Acropora palmata (Elkhorn coral) including in Jamaica, Curaçao and Florida, with additional experience on the reefs of Cuba, Bermuda, Bahamas, Mexico, and the British Virgin Islands. Using quantitative data that she and others collected from throughout the Caribbean region, Tali produced an Elkhorn coral population model that has since been published in the peer-reviewed literature and is gaining widespread use in coral reef management. This model facilitated a regional comparison of predicted changes in population size among different areas of the Caribbean. The results of her model have been incorporated into NOAA’s management documents such as the Acropora Recovery Plan and for planning coral restoration projects.
For the past two years Tali has been working in science planning and policy at NOAA to promote the visibility of corals both as habitat creators and as threatened organisms, and to promote the reliance of fish stocks on a variety of healthy ocean and coastal habitats. She has succeeded in gaining funding for research that relates the condition of near-shore fisheries to valuable offshore fish stocks, and has made significant strides in directing funding towards threatened corals.
Prior to pursuing her Ph.D. at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, she worked with the New York City Parks Department’s Natural Resources Group where she coordinated a $10 million grant funding habitat restoration projects. These projects tackled controlling erosion, invasive species management, and large-scale tidal and fresh-water wetland construction. Tali also served as a Benthic Ecology Researcher at the Bermuda Biological Station for Research where she conducted long-term monitoring of three primary tropical marine ecosystems, mangroves, coral reefs and sea grass beds, to better understand the effects of urbanization on tropical marine ecosystems.
Tali holds a Master’s and Bachelor’s Degree in Conservation Biology from the University of Pennsylvania.