Carlos M. Duarte

Principal Investigator

Distinguished Professor of Marine Science, Tarek Ahmed Juffali Research Chair in Red Sea Ecology



Building 2 (Ibn Al Haytham) West, Level 3, Room 3219


Prof. Carlos Duarte is a world-wide leader in multiple branches of biological oceanography and marine ecology. He established himself very early in his career as the world-wide leading authority on the ecology of seagrass meadows. He published on all aspects of seagrass ecology, from population biology to genetics, from depth and geographical distribution patterns to their role in biogeochemical cycles, and from conservation strategies to their sensitivity towards climate change.

Throughout his multifaceted research career, Duarte has participated in research expeditions all over the world from the tropics to both poles studying ecological systems, biogeochemical cycles, coastal systems, macrophytes, microbes, seagrasses and open ocean gyres. Many of his synthesis papers have set the stage for the field; e.g. his work initiated the discussion on the heterotrophic nature of oligotrophic systems and identified the role of hypoxia thresholds for marine biodiversity.

Duarte, who is the current Tarek Ahmed Juffali Research Chair in Red Sea Ecology, has also served as the Director of the KAUST Red Sea Research Center (RSRC). Presently his research within the RSRC focuses on the pressing global marine science problems of our time. He also lends his expertise to many of the Kingdom's upcoming mega projects that revolve around the Red Sea and Vision 2030, including The Red Sea Project and NEOM.

Prof. Carlos Duarte is probably the most versatile aquatic ecologist of his generation, and was recognised as the top ranking marine bioogist in the world (SCOPUS) in 2021. His research is characterized by independence, creativity, serendipity and interdisciplinary linking, as well as the capacity to organize and collaborate with large interdisciplinary teams.

Duarte was elected President of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, serving as such between 2007 and 2010. In 2009, he was appointed member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council (ERC), the highest-level scientific committee at the European Level, where he served until 2013. He is Editor in Chief of Frontiers in Marine Science (, and was editor-in-chief of Estuaries and Coasts, as well as associate editor for a number of journals. 

Research Interests

Prof. Carlos Duarte's research focuses on understanding the impacts of global change in marine ecosystems, addressing all components from microbes to megafauna. His research involves two nodes of separate but complementary interests: one on the metabolic and elemental budgets of marine ecosystems and their connectivity in space, and the other on the stability and dynamics of marine habitats and the maintenance of biodiversity, including demographics, space occupation and gene flow.


  • Ph.D., McGill University, Montreal, Canada, 1987
  • B.Sc., Biology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain, 1982

Professional Profile

  • 2020 - Present: Distinguished ​Professor, Tarek Ahmed Juffali Chair in Marine Ecology, Red Sea Research Center, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • ​2015 – 2020: Professor and Tarek Ahmed Juffali Chair in Marine Ecology, Red Sea Research Center, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • 2016 - 2018: Director, Red Sea Research Center, KAUST
  • 2014 – 2017: Adjunct Professor, University of Trømso, Norway
  • 2012 – 2015: Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Marine Science, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • 2011 – 2015: Winthrop Professor and Director, The UWA Oceans Institute. Part time appointment 0.5 FTE
  • 1999 – cont.: Research Professor, IMEDEA, Spanish National Research Council, Mallorca, Spain, on leave since January 13, 2015).
  • 1989 – 1999: Research Scientist, Spanish National Research Council, CEAB, Blanes, Spain
  • 1987 – 1989 Post-doctoral Fellow, Spanish National Research Council, Barcelona, Spain​

Scientific and Professional Membership

  • American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO)


  • Ranked, by Reuters, as the 12th most influential climate scientist in the world
  • G. Evelyn Hutchinson Award from the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (2001)
  • National Science Award of Spain (2007)
  • King James I Award for Research on Environmental Protection (2009). 
  • Silver Medal Cross of Merit from the Guardia Civil, Spain, for his service to environmental protection (2009)
  • Prix d’Excellence, the highest honor awarded by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), (2011)
  • Honorary doctorates from the Université de Québec a Montrèal (Canada) in 2010 and Utrecht University (The Netherlands) (2012)
  • Named “Highly Cited Scientist”, recognizing him as one of the most influential scientists in the world by Thompson Reuters, both in 2005 and the 2014 update of the list. 
  • Elected Sustaining Fellow of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (2016)
  • Sustaining Fellow, Advancing the Science of Limnology and Oceanography, ASLO (2017)
  • Carlo Heip International Award for outstanding accomplishments in marine biodiversity science, World Marine Biodiversity Conference (2018)
  • Blaise Pascal Medal for Earth and Environmental Sciences, European Academy of Sciences (2018) 
  • Appointed Fellow to the European Academy of Science (2018)
  • Premi Ramon Margalef d'Ecologia award (2019)
  • BBVA Foundation "Frontiers of Knowledge Award" in the area of Ecology and Conservation Biology (2020)
  • BBVA Foundation "Frontiers of Knowledge Award" in the area of Ecology and Conservation Biology (2021)
  • Doubly-Highly Cited Scientist (Web of Science - Clarivert Analytics); also named in all previous assessments (2021)
  • Top-ranked Marine Biologist in the World (SCOPUS), (2021)

KAUST Affiliations

  • Red Sea Research Center (RSRC)
  • Computational Bioscience Research Center (CBRC)
  • Biological and Environmental Science & Engineering Division (BESE)​​

    Research Interests Keywords

    Marine Ecology Environment Biodiversity Conservation biology Ecosystem ecology Coastal ecology aquaculture Carbon Dynamics Seagrass Ecology