Who We Are
Mariana Fuentes

Mariana Fuentes

Associate Professor at the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, Florida State University


Mariana Fuentes, Ph.D., a marine conservation biologist, is an Associate Professor, at the Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science at Florida State University. She has established a dynamic research program that focuses on providing critical scientific basis to aid the recovery of threatened marine megafauna, in particular marine turtles. Her expertise is in integrating field-based ecology with systematic conservation planning, decision-theory approaches, climate modelling, and applied qualitative and geographic spatial analysis. She uses these tools to advance the understanding of fundamental ecological questions and to determine how marine megafauna are impacted by cumulative and synergetic disturbances. Given the applied nature of her research, Dr. Fuentes has worked closely with multiple government, non-government and Indigenous agencies internationally (Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Kenya, Madagascar, USA, and Vanuatu) and nationally, and has experience translating research results into advisory service products for policy-makers, industry, and/or the public. Broadly, the results of her research have allowed managers and decision makers to better anticipate and mitigate impacts to marine megafauna, helped managers to identify stressors that if reduced would provide the most benefit for megafauna persistence, and has informed the design of conservation areas and critical habitats and the implementation of conservation actions.

Prior to joining FSU in 2015 she undertook a prestigious Super Science Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Australia, where she used an interdisciplinary approach to translate fundamental science to real-world application to advance the theory and practice of conservation planning of marine megafauna. She was awarded a Ph.D. Cum Laude (university medal) in 2010 from James Cook University, Australia, where she assessed the impacts of climate change on marine turtles. Also at James Cook University, in 2004, she obtained a B.Sc. with 1st class Honors in Marine Biology and Environmental Sciences.

Her work is internationally recognized, and she is an invited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a marine turtle specialist member. In 2022, she was awarded a Developing Scholar award from FSU, recognizing her outstanding research as an Associate Professor. In 2019, she was awarded a prestigious Fellowship by the National Academies of Sciences recognizing the research that she conducts in the Gulf of Mexico. During her Ph.D. she was awarded a Young Explorer Award by the National Geographic Society. Further, her commitment to delivering her research to the broad community has been recognized by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science and she was a recipient of one of the prestigious Young Tall Poppy Science Awards. More recently, she was a recipient of the Sharing Science Award from the American Geophysical Union.