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Aaron Pilnick

Aaron earned a PhD in Interdisciplinary Ecology with the University of Florida in December 2022. His main research interests include restoration aquaculture and coral reef ecology, with an emphasis on marine invertebrate biology. Beginning in 2018, Aaron has worked in close partnership with The Florida Aquarium in Apollo Beach, FL, to improve aquaculture and restocking methods for an ecologically important reef herbivore, the long-spined sea urchin Diadema antillarum. The development of a novel recirculating aquaculture system has led to the refinement of larviculture protocols, the production of over 1,000 juveniles, and subsequent first attempts at restocking hatchery-reared urchins to the wild.


Aaron gained his first professional experience in the public aquarium industry at the New England Aquarium, where he worked in the Tropical Gallery as an Aquarist Assistant during his sophomore year at Tufts University in Boston, MA. After multiple internships studying fisheries ecology in the Northern Gulf of Mexico and cold-water coral reef ecology in New England, Aaron was hired as a full-time Aquarist at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD, in 2015. There, he was responsible for maintaining the institution’s live coral reef exhibits. While in Baltimore he developed a passion for invertebrate husbandry, life support engineering, and coral reef conservation. In 2018, Aaron moved back down to his home state of Florida to pursue graduate studies. He is currently a Post-Doctoral Research Associate with the University of Florida and plans to continue developing restoration aquaculture and marine invertebrate biology research.


There's going to be more than just urchins at the Saba Research Center one day! Learn how the latest technology affects the study our reefs on October 15. Register for his field project dive here.

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