Reef encounter: Members of Oki Coral Watchers perform a reef survey off Okinawa, noting the number and type of corals along the transect (a line laid on the coral identifying the area under observation) and evaluating their health. | COURTESY OF OKI CORAL WATCHERS

Margaret Mars Brisbin is a Ph.D. Candidate in arine cience at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST), which probably rings to ind frolicking olphins and iant schools of tropical ish. But Brisbin’s focus is much, much maller: arine microeukaryotes, the photosynthetic organisms that make oral ossible.

In a ealthy reef, these microscopic symbionts ive nside ard orals, roviding the nergy that powers heir rowth. In an unhealthy reef, stressed orals expel heir iny residents, resulting in bleaching and, eventually, eath.

In 2015, Brisbin came to Okinawa to tart ork on her Ph.D., Attracted by the esearch ossibilities offered by the earby reefs and ong arm-水ater iving eason.

“My very irst

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