Dr. Phil Dustan, College of Charleston, began his reef studies in Discovery Bay, Jamaica in the early 1970’s on the photobiology of reef corals conservation. However, much of his career has focused on human impacts on the vitality of coral reefs. He remains fascinated with sunlight as a driving ecological forcing function of corals and coral reefs, but realized in the 1980’s that unless more effort went into conservation nothing would be left for future generations. A founder of the USEPA Florida Keys Coral Reef/Hardbottom Monitoring Project and Cousteau Society Science Advisor, he pioneered remote sensing techniques to detect coral reef change, collaborated on developing coral molecular stress markers, and discovered White Plague coral disease. Retrospective studies of Jamaican and Floridian reefs that have changed almost beyond recognition, having lost 50% - >95% of their living coral cover, sparked collaborations with non-profits (TreestoSeas.org, BiosphereFoundation.org, Raja Ampat Research and Conservation Centre) to engage more locals in reef stewardship guided by science. Phil’s research has highlighted that coral reefs are ecosystems, not resources and just like politics, conservation is local, beginning with local people and their actions.