CCMI appoints director of research

Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley is CCMI’s new director of research.

The Central Caribbean Marine Institute has appointed Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley as its director of research.

Goodbody-Gringley, who has extensive experience in the field of coral reef research, comes from the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science, according to a press release from CCMI.

Director of research is a new role within the organisation, and is part of CCMI’s Vision 2025, which includes “an expansion of its research programme, as well as building capacity and capabilities at a company and operational level”.

Carrie Manfrino, CCMI president and CEO, will retain her role as senior scientist but will focus on developing company strategy, the release stated.

Goodbody-Gringley was hired after a year-long recruitment process, CCMI said.

“In her application, Dr. Goodbody-Gringley outlined a vision for CCMI to establish a unique state-of-the-art dive centre and molecular and genetics laboratory that will place the Cayman Islands at the forefront of scientific research in the entire Caribbean,” Manfrino said in the release. “She has an excellent publication record, on topics that focus on population structure, reproductive ecology, and genetic connectivity of reef organisms.

“Her work examines mechanisms that could boost coral resilience to climate change. Ultimately, the goal is to understand how coral reef ecosystems might continue to function as climate change continues to heat up the ocean. What is most remarkable is that she has an excellent network of international collaborators who will help build the capacity of our work in the Cayman Islands.”

Goodbody-Gringley arrived in the Cayman Islands on 13 Jan., according to CCMI.

She said in the statement, “I am thrilled to be joining the excellent team at CCMI and to lead a motivated and committed group of young scientists. My new research programme aims to increase our understanding of the resilience of coral reefs through examinations of adaptation and acclimatisation of coral reef organisms using a combination of large-scale ecosystem observations, small-scale laboratory experiments, and molecular ecology.”

She added, “Understanding the mechanisms that enable populations to persist will ultimately guide our conservation strategies to maintain ecosystem function and protect biodiversity in the ocean. The Cayman Islands is the perfect place to conduct this work, not only because of its central location within the Caribbean, excellent and expanding marine protected areas, but it offers access to one of the healthiest coral reef systems in the region.”

Before taking up her new role at CCMI, Goodbody-Gringley established and led the Reef Ecology and Evolution Laboratory at BIOS. She completed her bachelor of science at the University of Georgia and her PhD at Harvard University in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. She then held postdoctoral positions at Mote Marine Laboratory and University of Bologna, Italy.