In 2005, Vaughan became a senior scientist at the Mote's Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration Center in the Florida Keys and program manager for the Coral Reef Restoration Program. It was while working in his lab that Vaughan discovered a process to speed up the rate of growth for coral. Using a process called micro fragmentation, he and his crew are able to produce hundreds of corals in a day. Vaughan postponed his retirement to work on restoring corals at Florida’s Reef Tract, the third-largest coral reef in the world. He is now the president and founder of Plant A Million Corals LLC, which was created for the purpose of training marine biologists all over the world in coral restoration and replenishment.
For the past 32 years, Vaughan has made a name for himself worldwide with numerous published papers and notoriety on his coral growth research. In 2008, he won the Eugenie Clark Scientific Explorer Award from Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, and in 2018, he received The Parker/Gentry Award for Excellence in Conservation/Environmental Biology from The Field Museum. Vaughan has also single-handedly restored and grown over 50,000 corals, and over 100,000 more working with others. He credits his time at Graceland for giving him the drive and passion for this lifelong love and mission.