Madeleine van Oppen is an ecological geneticist with an interest in microbial symbioses and climate change adaptation in reef corals. Her early career focused on evolutionary and population genetics of algae and fish, and subsequently corals. She obtained a PhD in the molecular ecology of algae in 1995 (U Groningen, Netherlands) and currently holds positions as Professor at the University of Melbourne and the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
Madeleine is driven by a desire to find biological solutions for mitigating the effects of climate warming that have resulted in a terrifyingly rapid loss of coral around the world. Her current research focuses on the bio-engineering of coral and their microbial symbionts for enhanced climate resilience. This includes probiotics, accelerated evolution and genetic engineering of microbes associated with corals, selective breeding of corals, and the conditioning (i.e., transgenerational acclimation) of corals to predicted future ocean conditions.