Adriana Humanes

  • Postdoctoral Research Associate - School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Newcastle University

Research interests

Dr. Humanes is a marine ecologist with research experience in 4 countries (Venezuela, Australia, U.K and Palau) focused on studying the effects of climate change on coral reef population dynamics.

At her current position as Postdoctoral Research Associate at Newcastle University, she is in charge of leading the field activities of the CoralAssist project, an ERC-funded initiative which brings together scientists from several different disciplines to investigate whether the Assisted Gene Flow (AGF) technique could be used in coral reef conservation. AGF involves the deliberate movement of individuals within or between habitats for the express purpose of increasing the frequency of better adapted individuals to a desired condition in a population. The aim of the project is to identify which coral colonies have the highest tolerance to heat stress, bred them together to find out if these traits are passed on to their offspring. Baby corals from these selected crosses are reared until they are adults to see if this heat tolerance persists through time - it may even be possible to see if it passes on to second or third generations. The underlying mechanisms behind these differing levels of heat-tolerance among corals are not fully understood, but this is a major topic of interest for CoralAssist. By combining a range of different techniques, including physiology and proteomic analysis of the different corals, Dr Humanes and her colleagues aim to build a deeper understanding of the factors that affect heat-tolerance. 

Dr. Humanes is also passionate about science communication, has participated in National Regional and International Conferences and been invited as speaker Radio Shows, Schools, Universities and General Public Events. During the Covid-19 lockdown, Dr. Humanes together with 5 other scientists published the children’s book “The Secret Life of Viruses”. The team worked together remotely during the covid lockdown under the leadership of Dr. Anna Cabré to write the  book and guide the work of the  illustrator Mariola Tolosa Sisteré.  Using simple texts and drawings  the authors explain basic concepts of the biology and reproductive cycle of viruses, their history, and what a pandemic is. The book explains that there are many viruses in the world but that not all are bad, that some are key for the functioning of ecosystems, and that our own health is linked to the health of our planet. The promotional video of the book is available here.