Coral Research

Dr Anya Salih diving on a coral reef off Lord Howe Island.  

Dr Anya Salih, a scientist in the School of Science and Health, is researching the biological function of coral colours – the glow-in-the-dark fluorescent proteins that light up coral reefs, that are featured in the film, Coral: Rekindling Venus.

She believes that to understand why corals have evolved functional diversity of fluorescent colours, it is important to work across many disciplines. So she has teamed with many scientists from around the world – marine biologists, biophysicists, molecular biologists, electrophysiologists and biochemists – to solve the mystery of coral fluorescence.

Coral living on a reef off Lord Howe Island. 

Coral living on a reef off Lord Howe Island photographed to show the colours visible to the human eye.

Dr Salih leads the UWS Confocal Bio-Imaging Facility, where she uses laser microscopes to investigate cellular processes in healthy and in cancer cells, in plants and microbes.

Fluorescent coral 

Lord Howe Island coral photographed showing fluorescence.

Recently Dr Salih discussed her research and her collaboration with internationally renowned artist, Lynette Wallworth, at the World Science Festival in New York. 

Ms Wallworth has created a mesmerising film, Coral: Rekindling Venus, featuring the colourful and dynamic world of fragile corals reefs. The unique film immerses the audience in an underwater world using the full dome screens of planetariums.  Viewers are enveloped in the sights and sounds of another world - an ecosystem at great risk from climate change.

Dr Salih captured some of the images of fluorescent corals used in Coral: Rekindling Venus.  

The extraordinarily detailed, high definition, images required innovative technology and new techniques beyond those usually in the lab or in the field. 

The results are simply stunning.

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City has published an article on Dr Salih's work on the the Coral: Rekindling Venus  project which has been part of a special exhibit during June.


For media interviews contact: Paul Grocott, Senior Media Officer