Joana R Xavier holds a PhD in Biology (2009, University of Amsterdam) and a degree in Marine Biology (2003, University of Azores). She is Principal Investigator at CIIMAR - University of Porto (Portugal), and an invited Associate Professor II in deep-sea biology at the Department of Biological Sciences of the University of Bergen (Norway). Her research focusses in the understanding of basin-scale diversity, biogeographic, and connectivity patterns of deep-sea sponges and the habitats they form (i.e. sponge grounds), using a combination of disciplines (taxonomy, systematics, ecology and genetics). Other areas of interest include biotechnological and biomedical applicability of sponges (e.g. cellular metabolites and extracellular biomaterials) and their associated microbial communities. She published over 30 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals and collaborates with a vast network of European and North American scientists. She currently (co-)supervises 4 PhD students and has supervised numerous BSc/MSc students in the fields of sponge taxonomy, systematics, and phylogenetics. She is the scientific manager and co-lead of WP3 on biogeographic patterns and connectivity of the SponGES project funded under the EU H2020 Blue Growth Research and Innovation Programme.