HJR Reefscaping


Héctor J. Ruiz, Ph.D. Marine Biology
Executive Director

Héctor J. Ruiz Torres, earned his doctorate degree in marine biology from the University of Puerto Rico in the Mayaguez Campus with emphasis in marine botany, coral reef organism taxonomy and ecology. Doctor Ruiz is the executive director of HJR Reefscaping. Through this venue in collaboration with local and federal agencies various environmental restoration projects have been completed in mangrove keys, coral reefs, seagrass habitats and with fisheries resources. Today HJR Reefscaping leads various environmental projects throughout the island of Puerto Rico. His experience and interest are wide ranging, including algae (ecology, biology and taxonomy) coral (ecology & taxonomy), marine ecosystem monitoring, island restoration, coral reef restoration and underwater photography. His passion for underwater photography led him to publish a book (Beneath the waves) in 2012, about marine life around the Puerto Rico archipelago.


Michelle T. Schärer, Ph.D. Marine Biology
Environmental Consultant

Michelle T. Schärer graduated from the University of Central Florida with a BS in zoology. Since then she has participated in a variety of research and sustainable development projects in the US, Brazil and Puerto Rico. She earned a MS in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico while working with sea turtles during in-water surveys at Mona and Monito Islands. Her PhD was conducted on the landscape level habitat distribution of coral reef fishes at Mona Island, Puerto Rico. Since then her major research interests include the acoustics of spawning aggregations of groupers, fisheries biology, conservation and restoration of marine ecosystems. Most recently she has participated in work that incorporates the human dimensions into the public policy for ocean conservation.


Antonio L. Ortiz Prosper, Ph.D. Marine Biology
Environmental Consultant

Antonio is a Professor of Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Aguadilla Campus. He has a Ph.D in Marine Sciences from the Marine Sciences Department, UPR-Mayaguez. His doctoral research focused on Population Dynamics of Hurricane-Generated Fragments of Elkhorn Coral Acropora palmate. Antonio co-founded Reefscaping with Héctor in 2002. Along with his job as an educator he has dedicated over 23 years of research and experience to developing new and better ways to cultivate and propagate corals. Antonio has a creative eye for combining science and art, and over the years has designed and constructed a variety of semi-artificial coral reefs for many projects around the island.


Agleris Santiago Morales
Project Manager Coordinator

Agleris Santiago Morales worked for 8 years as an Administrative Assistant for the NOAA-CRES 2002 Program of the Department of Marine Sciences, UPR-Mayaguez. She also served as Program Manager Assistant at Caribbean Coral Reef Institute (NOAA-CCRI) at Isla Magueyes, La Parguera where she managed along with the Program Manager and Executive Director the process of proposals, approved projects and contracts with various local and federal entities. Through NOAA-CCRI she helped professors and students with their daily project paperwork and purchases. Presently she manages all administrative tasks at HJR Reefscaping.


José A. Vargas Santiago, M.S. Environmental Management
Environmental Consultant, Field Biologist

José, better known as Cheo, graduated from the Universidad Metropolitana del Este. He obtained his master degree in Environmental Management, with a minor in Management and Conservation of Natural Resources. He is a field technician with a vast experience researching birds. Once he joined the Reefscaping group, he transitioned from land to water. Cheo started working with tarpon tagging project at the Boquerón Wildlife Refuge in Cabo Rojo. Subsequently he worked with Guardianes de María Langa Restoration Project, Peñuelas and coral reef restoration projects throughout southern Puerto Rico. He is also volunteer and active member of Caborrojeño Pro Salud y Ambiente, a community based non governmental organization. José also volunteered with researching endemic and endangered species like the Puerto Rican parrot (Amazona vittata) and the Elfin-woods warbler (Dendrica angelae), among others birds. Currently interests range wider and benefit from the team's experiences. His goal is that the general public can understand the importance of conservation for the benefit of humankind.


Osvaldo B. Rullán Cruz
Field Biologist

Osvaldo B. Rullán Cruz graduated from the University of Puerto Rico in Aguadilla, where he completed a BS in Biology. He holds degrees in General Natural Sciences and Agricultural Technology as well. His research experience includes ornithology, wildlife, ecological and botanical restoration, and marine ecology. He has also participated in several development and conservation projects. In fact, as a result of these initiatives, he is featured as the main author of the Guía Informativa de las Aves en Finca Nolla and the Inventario de Aves en Hóbitat Costero en Restauración, Camuy, Puerto Rico (forthcoming). In addition, he is an active member of the Sociedad Ornitológica de Puerto Rico (SOPI). With the goal of making contributions to efforts in environmental conservation, he recently joined the HJR Reefscaping team as a field technician in Cayo Caribe.