Doug Fenner received his BA from Reed College in 1971. While in college, he spent a couple of summers at a marine lab in Hawaii assisting professors in their research, when he published a paper on sea urchin anatomy. He went on to get a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1976 and a first career in animal behavior.
During that period, Doug began scuba diving on Caribbean reefs, going on to publish several papers describing the coral reefs of several islands for the first time. He learned that to describe a reef you need to know how to identify coral species, and at that time field guides to corals were rudimentary. He then turned his attention to Hawaii, studying the coral species there, and eventually publishing a book Corals of Hawaii. Doug then spent two years in the Philippines helping NGOs survey reefs for choosing MPA (Marine Protected Area) sites, and learning to identify many more species of coral.
After that, he moved to Australia, where he worked at the Australian Institute of Marine Science for Dr. J.E.N. Veron, one of the world’s top coral taxonomists. During his 6 years there, he joined several research expeditions to places like the Philippines, Indonesia, New Guinea, the Andaman Islands (India) and Rodrigues Island in the Indian Ocean. He then moved to American Samoa, accepting a position in the Dept. of Marine & Wildlife Resources of the American Samoa government, doing coral reef monitoring there supported by grants from NOAA. There were more trips to a variety of other reefs for coral surveys.
Doug has been in American Samoa for 11 years now, and now is a consultant, primarily working for NOAA on the coral species proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act.