LMME LAB MEMBERS
I earned my B.Sc. in marine science and biology from the Ruppin Academic Center in Israel.
RAPHAEL AGUILLON (PH.D.)
- Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - (L. Da Vinci)
Trained as a developmental biologist in France, I like tackling big questions in small and apparent simple systems. During my Ph.D. at the Center of Integrative Biology, Paul Sabatier University in France, I combined long-term live-imaging and functional genetics to assess how cell identity and cell movement are coordinated during the early olfactory organ development in zebrafish larvae. My current research focuses on animals with one of the simplest and primitive nervous system – Cnidarians – by using two emerging models, Nematostella vectensis and Aiptasia Pellida, I study how cellular physiology and symbiosis could affect a behavioral state.
I am working to understand the natural rhythms and symbiotic complexity of the clock apparatus in cnidarians. In my Ph.D., I focus on characterizing the circadian and circatidal clocks in three model cnidarian species by comparing between symbiotic and aposymbiotic morphs, using different genomic and molecular toolkits. My M.Sc. focused on characterizing the expression pattern of circadian genes in the cnidarian sea anemone, Nematostella vectensis.
My research aims to establish a geological and historical record of the coral reef in the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba (GoE/A), Red Sea, Israel through radiocarbon dating, reconstructing the distribution of coral species throughout the Holocene, and reconstructing their chemical and isotopic composition to differentiate between anthropogenic and natural climatic effects. In addition, I am working on estimating population demographics and genetic connectivity among reefs within and between Singapore and the GoE/A. In my M.Sc. I focused on the reproduction of mesophotic corals in Prof. Yossi Loya’s lab at Tel Aviv University, Israel.
My research focuses on innovating tools and methods to support the restoration process for degraded coral reef ecosystems. I am working on developing unique, artificial reefs using 3D printing technology, to help sustain global coral reefs. In addition, I am exploring new potential methods to upgrade reef restoration and more efficiently monitor the restoration progress, using a combination of molecular tools and reef health surveys. In my M.Sc. research, I studied a novel bacterium species found in the coral eating sea star Acanthaster c.f. solaris, known as Crown-of-Thorns Sea stars (CoTS), from the Indo-Pacific. This research developed insights into the potential for using a disease-inducing bacterium as a biological control agent for CoTS in coral reef ecosystems. My M.Sc. took place at James Cook University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) in Queensland, Australia.
My main research topic examines the mechanisms of sleep in the upside-down jellyfish Cassiopea spp. Studying the correlation between behavior and the molecular level of sleep in Cassiopea spp. can help us understand the reasons for sleep throughout evolution. In my M.Sc., I studied the behavioral and neural correlates of the 'Sense of Self’ in humans in Dr. Roy Salomon’s lab at Bar-Ilan University. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) I was able to associate human brain activity with fundamental aspects of the 'Sense of Self' - the experience of identifying with the body and its actions.
In my M.Sc., I wish to characterize sleep and wakefulness states of the coral reef fish Chromis viridis, using behavioral criteria in the aquarium and on the reef. This will allow us to examine the effect of Artificial Light at Night (ALAN) on sleep, DNA damage, repair during sleep, and wakefulness, in these common reef fish in the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba, Red Sea.