Dr. Maria Vega Rodriguez obtained her PhD in Marine Science with a specialization in Marine Resources Assessments from the University of South Florida. During her academic research, she used state-of-the art satellite optical instrumentation and field work to study the red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) productivity in La Parguera Natural Reserve and the influence of water quality variability on stony coral diversity at the Florida Keys. Additionally, Dr. Vega-Rodriguez worked with the Advanced Water Reclamation Facility at Pinellas County Fl. (local government) between 2016 -2021. She has a solid scientific ecological background in Caribbean coastal marine ecosystems as it relates to water quality, watershed management and water resources. Currently, she serves as the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (PR-DNER) Coral Reef Conservation and Management Program Manager where she oversees all coral-related projects held between the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program and the DNER. Personally, she loves gardening, travelling and learning new languages. Her favorite quote is “Think globally, act locally”.

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