Coral Vita was founded by two environmental entrepreneurs driven to solve one of our planet's greatest challenges, working with a team of business, policy and scientific leaders that share our passion for protecting coral reefs.
Sam and Gator met at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, where they both received Master of Environmental Management degrees. Together, they helped launch the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurship Club and were awarded the university's first-ever Green Innovation Fellowship. Their graduate studies and their love for oceans inspired them to launch a company to solve global coral reef degradation. Since founding Coral Vita, they’ve been recognized as Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs, Echoing Green and JMK Innovation Prize Fellows, and WeWork Creator Awards Global Finalists.
After graduating from Yale College in 2012, Sam served as the Chief Operating Officer for ELI Africa, a Mauritius-based non-profit. There, he helped launch a coral-farming project in partnership with the Mauritius Oceanography Institute and with funding from the United Nations Development Programme Global Environment Facility. During his time at ELI, he also created an endemic reforestation project, which was recognized with the 2013 Green Africa Awards' ‘Highly Commendable Award.' He interned for the White House Council on Environmental Quality's Climate Preparedness team, served as a fellow for the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA), and was recognized as one of twenty two ‘Climate Trailblazers’ by the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit. Sam is an optimistic Washington DC sports fan, an easy-going rugby player, and a PADI Search & Rescue scuba diver.
Always ready for the next adventure, Gator worked on international development projects in Peru, Brazil, and South Africa before pursuing his Master of Environmental Management degree
at Yale. As an United Nations Young Champion of the Earth, he is passionate about developing projects that can help create a better harmony between society and nature. While an undergraduate at Pomona College, Gator helped organize a fish-farming project in the Peruvian Amazon. His work on the project helped distribute millions of fingerlings (baby fish) to villages on three rivers, and also assessed the socio-economic and environmental effects of fish farming in the local communities. He also previously served as a fellow for the World Wildlife Fund Global Marine Program. Gator is an avid Liverpool FC fan, continues to emulate Steven Gerrard on the soccer pitch, and proudly hails from San Diego, California.
Chief Science Officer
As Chief Science Officer, Stephen leads our restoration and research efforts. Stephen began growing a wide variety of coral and sea creatures in aquariums as a child, and this fascination for the ocean led him to pursue an education in marine science. Upon completion of his Master’s degree in marine biology at Northeastern University, he accepted a position with the Hawai’i Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR). There, he was responsible for the buildout and operation of a new coral restoration nursery in Honolulu, Hawai’i - the first of its kind. He also worked in the aquarium trade, in both aquaculture and the design/installation of private aquaria throughout the USA. Originally hailing from Southern California, Stephen is a passionate Los Angeles sports fan (Fight On Trojans), an avid runner and hiker, and a PADI Divemaster with a love for all aquatic ecosystems.
Coral Vita is advised by one of the world's leading coral restoration scientists: Dr. David Vaughan. Dave developed the microfragmenting farming method to accelerate coral growth 50x. He’s the President of Plant a Million Corals LLC and formerly the Director of the Mote Marine Laboratory's Coral Restoration.
The company is also being advised by business innovators Tom Chi and Andrew Perlman. Tom is formerly the Co-Founder and Head of Experience at GoogleX. Andrew is an investor and entrepreneur who has co-founded nine venture-backed companies in the water, energy, telecom, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology industries. He's now a Partner at GreatPoint Ventures. Additionally, we are advised by Will Hovey, a Founder and Partner at GreyHawk Capital.
Prior to her tragic death from cancer in 2018, Dr. Ruth Gates also served as a Coral Vita advisor. Dr. Gates was the President of the International Coral Reef Society, Principal Investigator at the Gates Coral Lab and pioneer of the assisted evolution method to enhance coral resiliency against climate change threats. Her passing is a loss for the entire coral community, yet as she did in life through her brilliance, warmth, and passion, her legacy continues to inspire countless scientists and practitioners to fight to keep reefs alive for future generations.