Joe Lopez, PhD

Dr. Jose (Joe) Lopez is a Professor at the Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center (NSU OC- in Dania Beach Florida. He earned a Master’s degree in biology at the Florida State University, and his doctorate at George Mason University studying the evolution of mitochondrial DNA and its transpositions (Numt) in feline nuclear genomes at the National Cancer Institute. Dr Lopez then applied his molecular evolutionary training in postdoctoral appointments characterizing the Orbicella (formerly Montastraea) annularis coral sibling species complex at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, and sponge genetics at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, in Ft Pierce FL. The latter introduced him to Johnson Sea-Link submersible technology to investigate deep sea sponges and corals. Since 2007, Dr Lopez’s current research at the NSU Center Excellence in Coral Reef Ecosystems Research, involves diverse projects encompassig marine invertebrate-microbial symbiosis, genomics and metagenomics, gene expression of marine organisms, marine microbiology, and systematics/phylogenetics for placing marine sponges on a global Tree of Life ( His lab has recently initiated the “Global Invertebrate Genomics Alliance” (, that aims to coordinate genome sequencing of non-model invertebrate species, and Dr Lopez is also involved with the consortium of sponge biologists working on the global Earth Microbiome Project ( Overall, this research thread has resulted in over 40 peer-reviewed publications.

For the DEEPEND project, we will characterize microbial community diversity from the deep Gulf of Mexico using current molecular genetics and microbiology methods. One tool will include high throughput DNA sequencing and bioinformatics analysis to obtain in depth, baseline and temporal taxonomic profiles of marine microbes in the absence of an acute oil spill.