Dr. Drake completed her PhD in Oceanography at Rutgers University, and previously held a postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA, studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms of coral biomineralisation. Stony corals, calcifying cnidarians in order Scleractinia, secrete an external aragonite skeleton through a highly controlled process. The compilation of these skeletons formed by many coral species in one location, termed coral reefs, forms ecosystems that support high biological diversity and provide extensive services but are under threat due to anthropogenic climate change.
As UCLA, she used modern and fossil coral protein sequences to study skeletal protein preservation and evolution. Thus she is at the forefront of environmental biochemistry, as she has extracted and sequenced proteins from coral fossils that are over one hundred thousand years old, which has not previously been done for any fossil invertebrate biomineral.
In the Department of Marine Biology at the University of Haifa, she has joined the Coral Biomineralization and Physiology Laboratory to study coral skeletal and membrane-associated proteins toward a better understanding of corals’ biomineralisation mechanisms. Specifically, she compares the skeletal and membrane-associated proteomes (the complete set of proteins retained in coral skeleton) of coral planulae and adults from free-living and reef-building species. Her work could potentially address important questions about the effects of ocean acidification on coral calcification that may pertain to current and future climate change.