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STT = St. Thomas Campus,
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

STX = Albert A. Sheen Campus,
St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

STJ = St. John Academic Center,
St. John, US Virgin Islands

Romano, Sandra, Ph.D.

Romano, Sandra, Ph.D.

Interim Dean of College of Science and Mathematics
College of Science and Mathematics








Research areas include molecular systematics of scleractinian corals and molecular analysis of coral disease. Research interests and specialties are corals, coral reefs, marine invertibrates, molecular systematics, biodiversity, conservation biology, and pre-health profession advising.

Area: Evolutionary Biology

Abstract of Research: My general interests are in the evolution of biodiversity in marine organisms, particularly those that make up the coral reef community. My research focuses on using molecular tools to understand the evolution and population genetics of scleractinian corals, the animals that form the framework of coral reefs. I use molecular characters to test morphological hypotheses about higher level relationships (between genera and families) within the order Scleractinia. Most recently, in collaboration with colleagues, I have started using molecular characters to better understand the dynamics of coral disease.

Selected Publications: 

  • Romano, S.L. 1990. Long-term effects of interspecific aggression on growth of the reef-building corals Cyphastrea ocellina  (Dana) and Pocillopora damicornis (Linnaeus). JEMBE 140:135-146
  • Romano, S.L. and Palumbi, S.R. 1996. Evolution of scleractinian corals inferred from molecular systematics. Science 271: 640-642
  • Fautin, D.G. and Romano, S.L. 1997. Cnidaria. In: The Tree of Life: A distributed Internet project containing information about phylogeny and biodiversity. Maddison, D.R. and W. P. Maddison. 1996.  http://phylogeny.arizona.edu/tree/phylogeny.html
  • Romano, S.L., and Cairns, S.D.. 2000. Molecular phylogenetic hypotheses for the evolution of scleractinian corals. Bulletin of Marine Science. 67:1043-1068
  • Shearer, T.L., van Oppen, M.J.H., Romano, S.L. and Worheide, G.. 2002. Slow mitochondrial DNA sequence evolution in the Anthozoa (Cnidaria). Molecular Ecology 11:2475-2488
  • Romano, S.L. and Stake, J.L.. 2007. Scleractinia. In: M. Daly et al. Phylum Cnidaria: A review of phylogenetic patterns and diversity 300 years after Linnaeus. Zootaxa 1668: 127-182
  • Budd, A.F., Romano, S.L., Smith, N., and Barbeitos, M. 2010. Rethinking the Phylogeny of Scleractinian Corals: A Review of Morphologic and Molecular data. Integrative and Comparative Biology. doi:10.1093/icb/icq062
  • Barbeitos, M.S., Romano, S.L., Lasker, H. 2010. Repeated loss of coloniality and symbiosis in scleractinian corals. Proceedings National Academy of Sciences. doi:10.1073/pnas.0914380107
  • Palumbi, S.R., Vollmer, S. Romano, S.L., Oliver, T., Ladner, J.  2011. The role of genes in understanding the evolutionary ecology of reef-building corals. Evolutionary Ecology doi: 10.1007/s10682-011-9517-3