Anya Salih studies the glow-in-the-dark fluorescent proteins that light up coral reefs in a kaleidoscope of colors. She has investigated the diverse biological roles these proteins play, including regulating how much light the corals take in and helping them reduce the stresses associated with climate change, and her work has helped establish the science of fluorescent protein biology as a rapidly growing new discipline.
A researcher at the School of Science and Health at the University of Western Sydney in Australia, Salih received her Ph.D. at the University of Sydney, where she worked and studied for over 15 years at the Australian Center for Microscopy and Microanalysis. Since coral proteins are often used as fluorescent tags to study genes and proteins in living cells under a microscope, Salih began to look for new types of the glowing proteins in corals in the Great Barrier Reef. At the University of Western Sydney, she leads a bio-imaging facility where coral fluorescent proteins are used to study the activity of proteins in healthy and cancerous cells.
Salih has collaborated with the artist Lynette Wallworth for over a decade,most recently collecting and helping to image some or the corals used in Wallworth’s work.