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Research Interest

As a coral ecophysiologist, I am interested in understanding the influence of the seawater environment on the phenotype of coral holobionts. Specifically, I investigate the impact of global and local stressors such as ocean warming, ocean acidification, nutrient pollution, and over-fishing on coral physiology, morphology, and recently, the microbiome. Through my academic journey, I have studied corals on the Great Barrier Reef (undergrad), in Hawaii (grad), and in French Polynesia (postdoc). If you would like to learn more about my research or collaborate on a future project, please don't hesitate to contact me.



Positions Held

May 2021 - Present

Postdoctoral Scholar
Oregon State University, USA

Lab: Dr Rebecca Vega Thurber

August 2015 – May 2021

Graduate Teaching/Research Assistant 
Ohio State University, USA

Lab: Dr. Andrea Grottoli



2015 – 2021

Ph.D. The Ohio State University, USA

Graduated May 2021 with a Doctor of Philosophy in Earth Sciences [3.9 GPA]

Dissertation title: Physiological acclimatization in Hawaiian corals in response to global climate change

Advisor: Dr. Andréa G. Grottoli

2011 – 2015

B.Sc (hons) University of St Andrews, UK

Graduated May 2015 with a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Marine Biology [first class degree (1st) / 4.0 GPA]

Study Abroad 2013–2014 James Cook University, Queensland, Australia

Thesis title: Effects of experimental heat-stress on the physiology of six coral species from the Great Barrier Reef

Advisors: Dr. Maria Dornelas (University of St Andrews) & Dr. Mia Hoogenboom (James Cook University, Australia)


Peer-Reviewed Publications

Please contact me if you would like a PDF copy of any of my publications.

Rowan's Google Scholar Profile

Rowan's Research Gate Profile

Rowan's ORCID Profile

6. Effect of species, provenance, and coral physiology on the composition of Hawaiian coral-associated microbial communities

James T Price, Rowan H McLachlan,  Christopher P Jury, Robert J Toonen, Michael J. Wilkins, Andréa G Grottoli (2021) Coral Reefs. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-021-02164-0

5. Environmental gradients drive physiological variation in Hawaiian corals

Rowan H McLachlan, James T Price, Agustí Muñoz-Garcia, Noah L Weisleder, Christopher P Jury, Robert J Toonen, Andréa G Grottoli (2021) Coral Reefs. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-021-02140-8

4. A review of coral bleaching specimen collection, preservation, and laboratory processing methods

Rowan H McLachlan, Kerri L Dobson, Emily R Schmeltzer, Rebecca Vega Thurber, Andréa G Grottoli (2021) PeerJ, 9:e11763. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.11763

3. Isotopic approaches to estimating the contribution of heterotrophic sources to Hawaiian corals

James T Price, Rowan H McLachlan, Christopher P Jury, Robert J Toonen, Andrea G Grottoli (2021) Limnology and Oceanography, 66(6), 2393–2407.


2. Increasing comparability among coral bleaching experiments

Andréa  G Grottoli, Robert J Toonen, Robert van Woesik, Rebecca Vega Thurber, Mark E Warner, Rowan H McLachlan, James T Price, Keisha D Bahr, Iliana B Baums, Karl Castillo, Mary A Coffroth, Ross Cunning, Kerri Dobson, Megan Donahue, James L Hench, Roberto Iglesias‐Prieto, Dustin Kemp, Carly D Kenkel, David I Kline, Ilsa B Kuffner, Jennifer L Matthews, Anderson Mayfield, Jacqueline Padilla-Gamiño, Steven Palumbi, Christian R Voolstra, Virginia Weis, Henry C Wu (2021) Ecological Applications, 31(4), e02262. https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.2262

1. Thirty years of coral heat-stress experiments: a review of methods

Rowan H McLachlan, James T Price, Sarah L Solomon, Andréa G Grottoli (2020) Coral Reefs, 39, 885–902. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-020-01931-9


Published Protocols


7. McLachlan RH, Patel A, Grottoli AG (2021) Measuring Coral Skeletal Architecture Using Image Analysis. Protocols.io, dx.doi.org/10.17504/protocols.io.bx5bpq2n

6. McLachlan RH, Grottoli AG (2021) Image Analysis to Quantify Coral Bleaching Using Greyscale Model. Protocols.io, dx.doi.org/10.17504/protocols.io.bx8wprxe

​5. McLachlan RH, Grottoli AG (2021). Geometric Method for Estimating Coral Surface Area Using Image Analysis. 

Protocols.io. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.17504/protocols.io.bpxcmpiw

4. McLachlan RH, Muñoz-Garcia A, Grottoli AG (2020). Extraction of Total Soluble Lipid from Ground Coral Samples.

Protocols.io. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.17504/protocols.io.bc4qiyvw

3. McLachlan RH, Juracka C, Grottoli AG (2020). Symbiodiniaceae Enumeration in Ground Coral Samples Using Countess™ II FL Automated Cell Counter.

Protocols.io. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.17504/protocols.io.bdc5i2y6

​2. McLachlan RH, Dobson KL, Grottoli AG (2020). Quantification of Total Biomass in Ground Coral Samples.

Protocols.io. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.17504/protocols.io.bdyai7se

1. McLachlan RH, Price JT, Dobson KD, Weisleder N, Grottoli AG (2020). Microplate Assay for Quantification of Soluble Protein in Ground Coral Samples.

Protocols.io. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.17504/protocols.io.bdc8i2zw

Awards and Honours

Spieker Book Award

2021 Ohio State University

Awarded to the distinguished Senior Ph.D. Graduate Student in the School of Earth Sciences

Distinguished Graduate Teaching Award

2020 Ohio State University

Presented to those graduate students who have displayed an outstanding commitment to classroom teaching in the School of Earth Sciences

Margaret Lang Prize

2015 University of St Andrews

Awarded to the outstanding student in the Senior Honours Marine Biology Degree programme

Dean's List

2014, 2015 University of St Andrews

Awarded to students who average above 16.5 (US GPA 3.8) in all modules across the academic year


Research Grants & Scholarships

2019 Coral Bleaching Research Coordination Network Early Career Award ($2000)

2017 & 2018 Sigma Xi - The Scientific Research Honor Society Grants-in-Aid of Research ($2000)

2016 The Scottish International Education Trust Scholarship ($3500)

2015, 2017, 2019 & 2020 – Friends of Orton Hall Research Scholarship ($3000)

2015 The Sutherland-Page Trust Scholarship ($1600)

2014 The Highland Children's Trust Educational Award ($800)

2013 The Duncraig Educational Scheme Scholarship ($1600)

2012 & 2014 The Mackinnon-MacNeil Trust Special Scholar Award ($5500)

2011 Fort Augustus & Glenmorriston Community Company Scholarship ($3000)