Dr. Aileen Maldonado

Dr. Aileen Maldonado

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Aileen joined the Mote team in Fall 2019. Her research interests are in the area of marine ecotoxicology and chemical ecology. She strives to understand the fate and effect of natural toxins and anthropogenic toxicants on marine organisms’ molecular pathways and behavior so that this information may be used to manage and preserve marine ecosystems and marine biodiversity. She is interested in using analytical techniques (i.e., LCMS/MS) to improve our understanding of detoxification of pollutants and natural toxin.

Aileen’s dissertation research focused of the chemical coevolutionary relationship between butterflyfish and corals. She analyzed the natural toxins produced by corals to prevent predation and assessed the ability of butterflyfish to adapt and detoxify coral toxins. Here, she studies the impacts of red tide toxins on marine organisms. She also studies the impacts of a red tide, pesticides and personal care products on fish and corals.

Aileen’s experience with pesticides and risk assessment for 2+ years is ideal for the research focused on mitigating red tide on the west coast of Florida. Assessing the impact of red tide and any potential technique or compound proposed to mitigate red tide. The results from this work can reduce the detrimental effects of red tide on Florida coast while minimizing risk to the environment.

Aileen has a passion for education and outreach. She has taught marine ecology in Panama for a year, taught underrepresented youth in an Oakland middle school, and taught high school students at a non-profit institute Blue Endeavors. She continues to volunteer and teach marine biology and diving for Blue Endeavors.

At Mote, Aileen is interested in applying ecotoxicology molecular techniques to coral ecology. Her goal is to support reef restoration efforts by selecting corals that are not only tolerant to climate change but also to anthropogenic pollutants. Another goal is to increase knowledge of the molecular underpinnings of corals to better understand what anthropogenic impacts are causing stress.


Ph.D. Environmental Science, University of California Riverside 2015

B.S., Marine Biology University of Hawaii 2011


Maldonado A., Lavado, R., Osrander, G., Knusten, S., Slattery, M., Ankisetty, S., Goldstone, J., Watanabe, K., Hoh, E., Rimoldi, J.M., Schlenk D. 2016. Biochemical Mechanism for Geographical Adaptations to Novel Toxin Exposures in Butterflyfish. Plos One. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0154208.

Maldonado, A., Johnson, A., Gochfeld, D., Slattery, M., Ostrander, G.K., Bingham, J., Schlenk, D. 2016. The role of cytochrome P450 in biotransformation of a hard coral (*Porites lobata*) extract and homarine in butterflyfishes. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology-Part C: Toxicology & Pharmacology. 179, 57-63.

Maldonado, A., Nowicki, J., Pratchett, M., Schlenk, D. 2019. The Role of Biotransformation Enzymes in Diet of Coral-consuming Fish in Hawaii versus Australia. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology-Part C: Toxicology & Pharmacology. 216, 1-9.