Giovanna Sabini-Leite

Ph.D. Students

PhD Student

Research Interests

As an undergraduate at Smith College, Giovanna completed a thesis investigating the partner-specific/ symbiont-host contributions to combined nutrient enrichment and light stress. Continuing on from her previous work, at KAUST, Giovanna’s research investigates the interactions between nutrient enrichment and the coral microbiome in contributing to thermal stress, resilience, and evolution of corals. She also hopes to investigate the potential vertical and horizontal transmission of BMCs in coral larvae and juveniles.

To foster her interest in coral biology and ecology, Giovanna studied abroad in Belize, Australia, and Spain in undergrad. As a Fulbright Scholar, she mapped and analyzed abundance, diversity, and distribution of octocorals in Maragogi, APA Costa dos Corais, Brazil with Dr. Beatrice Padovani at the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE). 


  • B.A., Biology and Latin American Studies, Smith College, Northampton, MA, USA, 2021

Professional Profile

  • 2021-Present: Master’s Student, RSRC, KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
  • March - September 2022: Fulbright Research Scholar, Brasil
  • 2020-2021: Honors Thesis Student in rWright Lab, Smith College, Northampton, MA, USA

Scientific and Professional Membership

  • International Coral Reef Society (ICRS)
  • Sigma Xi
  • NAUI Open Water Diver, issued May 2019


  • Fulbright Scholar – Research in Recife, Brazil, 2021-2022
  • Smith College Highest Honors in Biology for undergraduate thesis, 2021
  • Smith College Amey Randall Brown Prize in Botany, 2021

KAUST Affiliations

  • Red Sea Research Center (RSRC)
  • Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division (BESE)

Research Interests Keywords

Coral Microbiology Coral ecology Marine microbes Beneficial Microorganisms for Corals (BMCs) Symbiont transmission Evolution Resilience Climate Change Vitamins