Michelle Dochez from the United States, has been hired by Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) as the newest Researcher. With four PICRC researchers overseas pursuing their PhD and Masters degrees, Ms. Dochez will fill a large gap at the Center and ensure that the research department can continue to work while the researchers off-island complete their education.


Aside from assisting the PICRC Research Department, Ms. Dochez responsibilities will include support for the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) Office. PICRC is committed to supporting the PNMS with science and research to help guide the management of the Sanctuary.  The hiring of Ms. Dochez will ensure that PICRC can effectively support the PNMS Executive Director and the Executive Committee by developing and implementing the PNMS Science Plan as well as collaborating with different partners to ensure relevant scientific information on PNMS is gathered and available.

Ms. Dochez received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and her Masters in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California. Ms. Dochez first came to Palau in 2009 and was instantly captivated by Palau’s beauty, above and below the water. Ms. Dochez spent five years in Palau working as a dive guide and an underwater naturalist with Sam’s Tours.

Ms. Dochez worked in clinical research for eight years and spent three years working in biomedical labs. Prior to returning to Palau, Ms. Dochez worked as a consultant with Sirenas, a marine drug discovery start-up in San Diego. She developed a benefit sharing solution that promotes marine conservation initiatives in, and provides financial compensation to, nations that permit Sirenas to collect samples. Ms. Dochez also worked with the collection team to make small, one-time collections of marine sponges and cyanobacteria whose chemistry is being analyzed for potential biomedical applications to treat cancer, tuberculosis, malaria and other neglected tropical diseases.

“I am really excited to have the opportunity to explore and learn more about the coral reef environments of Palau” Ms. Dochez shares on her new position. “I hope to contribute to the important research PICRC is doing to benefit marine conservation efforts in Palau, the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, Micronesia, and the world.”  [/restrict]