Professor Shelby E. MCILROY


(Office): Rm 107A, Marine Science Lab

(Lab): Rm 107, Marine Science Lab

People SEM


(Office): (852) 3943 7254
(Lab): (852) 3943 6770



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B.S. University of Florida
M.S . Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (CSUMB)
Ph.D. University at Buffalo



  • 2023 -              Assistant Professor, School of Life Sciences (CUHK)
  • 2020 - 2023     Research Assistant Professor, School of Biolgical Sciences (HKU)
  • 2016 - 2018     Post Doctoral Fellow School of Biolgical Sciences (HKU)


Research Interests

Ecology and Evolution of Coral Symbioses; The Impact of Anthropogenic Change on Marine Biodiversity.


Representative Publications

  1. Landry-Yuan F, T Yamakita, TC Bonebrake, SE McIlroy (2023) Beyond the tropics: The future of coral reefs at poleward range edges is also limited by constraints on coral thermal physiology. Diversity & Distributions
  2. Davies SW, …SE McIlroy…AMS Correa, JE Parkinson (2023) Building consensus around the assessment and interpretation of Symbiodiniaceae diversity. PeerJ 11:e15023
  3. Tong H, F Zhang, J Sun, SE McIlroy, W Zhang, Y Wang, H Huang, G Zhou, PY Qian (2023) Meta-organism gene expression reveals that the impact of nitrate enrichment on coral larvae is mediated by their associated Symbiodiniaceae and prokaryotic assemblages. Microbiome 11:89
  4. McIlroy SE, CP terHorst, M Teece, MA Coffroth (2022) Nutrient dynamics in coral symbiosis depend on both the relative and absolute abundance of Symbiodiniaceae species. Microbiome 10:192
  5. G Puntin, J Craggs, R Hayden, KE Engelhardt, SE McIlroy, M Sweet, DM Baker, M Ziegler (2022) The reef-building coral Galaxea fascicularis: a new model system for coral symbiosis. Coral Reefs 1-14
  6. MA Coffroth, N Leigh, SE McIlroy, M Miller, D Sheets (2022) Symbiont genetic structure in recruits of a Symbiodiniaceae-coral mutualism differs from that of parental or local adults despite higher level specificity. Ecology and Evolution 12:e9312
  7. McIlroy SE, JCY Wong, DM Baker (2020) Competitive traits of coral symbionts may alter the structure and function of the microbiome. ISME J 14(10): 2424-2432
  8. McIlroy SE, R Cunning, AC Baker, MA Coffroth (2019) Competition and succession among coral endosymbionts. Ecology and Evolution 9:12767-12778
  9. McIlroy SE, PD Thompson, F Landry Yuan, T Bonebrake, DM Baker (2019) Subtropical thermal variation supports persistence of corals but limits productivity of coral reefs. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B Biological Sciences 286(1907):20190882
  10. Chen J** and SE Mcllroy**, A Archana, DM Baker, G Panagiotou (2019) A pollution gradient contributes to the taxonomic, functional and resistome diversity of microbial communities in marine sediments. Microbiome  7:104 **co-first authors


Research Grants

  • 2023-2026, General Research Fund, Research Grants Council, Examining the adaptive potential of corals to eutrophication; seascape genomics of Acropora samoensis in an urbanised coastal environment. (PI - $1,566,800 HKD)
  • 2023-2025, Environment and Conservation Fund, Hong Kong Research Grants Council, Connecting the dots: a standardized and quality-assured marine biodiversity database for Hong Kong (co-I $1,021,000)
  • 2023-2024, Marine Conservation Enhancement Fund, Population genomics of coral-associated denitrifying bacteria along nitrate gradients in Hong Kong waters (co-I - $790,650 HKD)
  • 2022-2025, General Research Fund, Research Grants Council, Species on the move - physiological acclimation and adaptation are the keys to predicting coral habitats of the future. (PI - $1,179,973 HKD)
  • 2021-2023, General Research Fund, Research Grants Council, Who’s the boss? - Host and symbiont conflict over nutrient regulation and symbiont community structure. (PI - $316,000 HKD)
  • 2020-2022, Seed Fund for Basic Research, University Research Committee, Predicting biodiversity hotspots of the future. (PI- $150,000 HKD)
  • 2020-2022, MarineGEO 2020 Networked Research Proposal, The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly: Carbon storage, eutrophication effects, and emergent health risks in the global marine sediment microbiome” (Co-PI - $140,800 USD)


Professional Activities

2022-Pres, Associate Editor - Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Biological Sciences