For Dr. Pim Bongaerts, it was love at first dive.
Growing up in a small town in the Netherlands, Bongaerts dreamed of the tropics, creating miniature edens of his own in a rainforest terrarium. As an undergraduate, he jumped at the opportunity to study the real thing, spending several months on a field internship in Costa Rica. His career trajectory was decidedly terrestrial—until his first SCUBA dive in Panama. He fell in love with the underwater world and recalibrated his academic compass toward a career in marine biology, completing a master’s in limnology and oceanography from the University of Amsterdam.
After returning to the Caribbean to conduct fieldwork in coral physiology off the island of Curaçao, Bongaerts set his sights on the holy grail of coral reefs: Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. He earned his doctorate at The University of Queensland in Brisbane, applying his aptitude for technology and computers to a molecular approach to studying coral reef ecology.
With more than 10 years of experience studying the Great Barrier Reef—including two spent at a research station on tiny Heron Island—Bongaerts brings formidable expertise to the Academy as Assistant Curator of Invertebrate Zoology and Hope for Reefs co-leader. He will also round out our “twilight zone” dream team, shedding light on the shadowy, little-known mesophotic zone 100-500 feet below the ocean’s surface.