Wade Chen

Mentor: Dr. Richard Hodel
College of Florida Museum of Natural History
"I became involved with research because it is a great opportunity to gain insight into the scientific method and to learn valuable lab techniques that are being used in the world today. The "hands on" experience that research provides can not be replicated through lecture and I believe that these experiences make me understand and appreciate the material being taught in class at a much deeper level."


Economics, Botany



Research Interests

  • Population genetics
  • Phylogenetics
  • Health economics

Academic Awards

  • Florida State Golf Association Scholar (2012 - present)
  • Florida Academic Scholar (2012 - present)
  • Peter J. Sones, Jr. Scholarship Endowment (2015)


  • Alpha Epsilon Delta


  • Shands (Radiology, Movement Clinic, Sports Medicine)

Hobbies and Interests

  • Playing sports (mainly basketball and golf)
  • Volunteering with AED
  • DJing/mixing music
  • Traveling

Research Description

The effect of coral (Porites) and endosymbiont (Symbiodinium) genetics on host skeletal morphology
Species delimitation in corals is difficult because phenotypic plasticity and hybridization make identifying coral based on morphology and skeletal microstructure (SM) impractical. My research project involves coral from the genus Porites, which live in symbiosis with the dinoflagellate Symbiodinium. The goal of my research project is to investigate how coral and symbiont genetics affect SM. Specifically, I will address two research questions: (1) Do additional genetic markers impact the resolution of the coral phylogeny and elucidate how coral genetics shapes morphology? (2) Do symbiont genetics influence coral morphospecies? If the data show that symbiont genotype and coral genetic distance are accurate predictors, then skeletal microstructure is controlled by genetics. These results will lead to higher species resolution among coral and a more accurate way of identifying coral species for coral reef conservation, a major initiative as climate change continues to have a profound impact on coral ecosystems around the world.