These are some of our current graduate students and their research interests.
Dr. Jim Gelscleichter
Determining serum sex hormone levels and reproductive status in the Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinata).
B.S.(Biology), Old Dominion University, 2003
Dr. Mathew Gilg
My research focuses on speciation and reproduction in fishes. I am currently investigating barriers to reproduction in the sympatric species Fundulus grandis and F. heteroclitus. The results of this study will shed light on the evolution of these fishes and may be used to support coastal resource management strategies using F. heteroclitus and F. grandis as indicators of overall ecosystem health in Northeastern Florida salt marshes.
A.S. in Aquaculture -Hillsborough Community College, 2003; B.S. in Marine Science and Biology, Minorin Chemistry - The University of Tampa, 2007
Dr. Cliff Ross
My research is focused on the effects of multiple abiotic stressors on the susceptibility of turtle grass (Thalassia testudinum) to disease. I am specifically concerned with a phenomenon known as wasting disease which is caused by a slime mold-like protist (Labyrinthula spp.) that acts as a secondary opportunistic pathogen. Results of my study will allow a greater understanding of how combined environmental stressors can affect the susceptibility of seagrasses to disease. This information is particularly valuable in a time where monitoring and managing environmental change are prevalent among the scientific community.
M.Ed. (Curriculum & Instruction), University of North Florida, 2011 B.A. (Anthropology), University of North Florida, 2009
Dr. Terri Ellis
My thesis project focuses on antibiotic resistance and gene expression in K. pneumoniae. Currently, there are many laboratories that have published papers on K. pneumoniae antibiotic resistance associated genes and their proposed mechanism of function. Something that has not been accomplished so far though, is to conduct a transcriptome study on when these genes become active over the course of resistance acquisition. It is unknown whether resistance is conferred through the activation or deactivation of one gene, of via the accumulation of many resistance associated genes.
The project that I have chosen will seek to answer some of these questions. I will be attempting to induce antibiotic resistance in a susceptible strain of K. pneumoniae and perform a time-course transcriptome study to determine antibiotic resistance gene expression levels. We expect to see the up-regulation of certain genes associated with resistance as well as the down-regulation of others. Overall, this project aims to provide valuable information to future researchers attempting to solve the increasingly dangerous problem of antibiotic resistance in hospitals and the community.
B.S. Biology, Florida State University, 2011
Dr. Jim Gelsleichter
My current research is focused on characterizing the reproductive biology of the finetooth shark in order to give accurate data on reproductive trends that can be used in fisheries management initiatives so that the fishery may be properly managed and healthy population sizes sustained. I am also interested in environmental toxicology and its effects on the reproductive and endocrine systems.
BS in Biology from Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Fl, 2009
Dr. Terri Ellis
My research encompasses bacterial pathogenicity and innate immunity. I analyze the downstream effects of the lipopolysaccharide O antigen in Klebsiella pneumoniae. One of the downstream effects of O antigen loss is a change in the protein composition of the outer membrane. I use proteomic analysis to identify changes to the K. pneumoniae outer membrane that are associated with O antigen loss. The second aim of my research is to determine how the loss of the O antigen and the associated changes to the outer membrane influence the ability of K. pneumoniae to elicit the innate immune response. This is accomplished by using real-time PCR to quantify inflammatory cytokine production from macrophages infected with K. pneumoniae.
B.S. Biology, University of Tampa
Dr. Doria Bowers
My research title is "Sindbis virus infection of mosquito salivary glands: permissive cells of the lateral lobes and refractory cells of the median lobe". My work will focus on differentiating the lobes by identifying and localizing the proteins of the salivary glands of Aedes albopictus.
B.S. Biology, UNF, 2009
Dr. Julie Richmond
I am interested in the physiological ecology of marine mammals. My research will be focusing on the seasonality and nutrition of the Florida Manatee. I currently work as a marine mammal biologist for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.
B.S. (Psychology), University of Central Florida
Dr. Kelly Smith
My research interests are on the interactions between marine species and their habitats. My thesis research is to compare the oyster reef and salt marsh restoration efforts within the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve to surrounding natural reefs in the Guana Peninsula along the Tolomato River in terms of fish habitat usage. I am looking at the effectiveness of this restoration effort on improving available fish habitat for resident and migratory marine species by studying population size, species diversity and community assemblages.
Dr. Quincy Gibson
I am currently studying the behavioral ecology of bottlenose dolphins within the St. Johns River. More specifically I am hoping to document patterns in male and female associations and verify the presence of first and second-order male alliances. Thus far the presence of second-order alliances have only been documented in Shark Bay, Australia, but preliminary data suggests that the SJR supports this level of social complexity as well.
The goal of my research is to determine the reproductive patterns that are occurring in the bonnethead shark that reside in the south eastern Atlantic coast. This research may contribute to improving fisheries management by establishing how quickly their population can replenish itself, among other things. It can also be used to comparatively investigate questions regarding other ecological or climactic influences that may have a broader scientific appeal. Ultimately, I hope to layout groundwork for this shark population size, seasonality, productivity, and lifehistory, while broadening public awareness about these enigmatic creatures.
B.S. Biology, UNF, 2012
Dr. David Waddell
My research involves better understanding how MuRF-1, a muscle specific transcription factor, interacts and coordinates with TGF-beta, a growth factor, to regulate the expression of Dusp-4, a dual specificty phosphatase involved in the MAP kinase pathway. The overall goal of the research is to better understand how certain growth and transcription factors help control gene expression in muscle atrophy.
Dr. Greg Ahearn
My research is centered on the histological and physiological analysis ofelasmobranchs scroll and spiral valve intestines. Specifically, to examine theexpression of putative membrane transporters in absorptive cells identifiedusing vesicle experiments. Results will help establish a detailed understandingon the absorptive role of the elasmobranchs valvular intestine.
B.S. Marine Biology, Florida Institute of Technology, 2013
Dr. Amy Lane
My graduate research focuses on exploring marine organisms as sources of naturalproducts. Natural products are chemical compounds derived from livingorganisms that can be used as pharmaceuticals, such as the commonly knownmedicines, penicillin and morphine. I am currently working on expressing,isolating and characterizing individual enzymes that play roles in naturalproduct production.
Dr. Matt Gilg
I am interested in the movement of invasive species, primarily aquatic invertebrates. My research focuses on the determination of the vertical distribution of larvae of the invasive green mussel, Perna viridis, for use in an ecological niche model. This study will allow us to better predict larval movement and determine which environmental factors will be key in determining larval habitat preference.
B.S. Biology, Emphasis in Environmental Biology, University of Southern Mississippi, 2009
My interests lie in the socio-sexual behavior of marine mammals. My research will be focused on thebehavior of social alliances of the Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the St.Johns River.
B.S. Biology & B.S. Interdisciplinary Studies(Marine Science), University of Georgia, 2012
My thesis focuses on the effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on shark species residing in the Gulf of Mexico. My first chapter will focus on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are the most toxic component of oil; I will be implementing a variety PAH biomarkers to evaluate oil exposure. There has been an association with increased PAH exposure and a down-regulation of estrogen dependent pathways. In efforts to determine some potential reproductive outcomes from oil exposure, my second chapter will evaluate vitellogenin expression, which is a hormone involved in some estrogen pathways, in the smooth dogfish (Mustelus canis).
Dr. Daniel Moon and Dr. Anthony Rossi
I have studied abroad in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, as well as Puerto Rico. Prior to arrival as a biology graduate student at UNF, I worked for the beautiful Pueblo of Santa Ana, NM, as a Biology Technician in the Department of Natural Resources. I am interested in ecological research addressing species of concern and community dynamics. Under the co-advisement of Dr. Daniel Moon and Dr. Anthony Rossi, my current thesis research examines the effects of nitrogen on the hooded pitcher plant, Sarracenia minor, through ant prey and NH4NO3 fertilizer addition.
B.S. (Conservation Biology) University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
My graduate research focuses on finding a functional description of a disaccharide membrane transporter in crustaceans, specifically H. americanus. Live male lobsters will be used to complete the experiments necessary to make conclusions regarding the presence and function of a disaccharide transporter.
B.S. Biology, UNF, 2011
Dr. John Hatle
I am interested in studying the trade-off between lifespan and reproduction. Currently I am using RNAi to knockdown the reproductive protein vitellogenin to determine its effects on reprouction and longevity in our grasshopper animal model.
BS (Biology), Bowling Green State University, Ohio, 2006
My research is focused on exploring the genes and enzymes involved in thebiosynthesis of novel natural products by marine actinomycetes, which are agroup of gram-positive bacteria. Natural products are biologically activecompounds produced by living organisms that have antibacterial, anticancer, andantifungal properties. I am interested in understanding both the genes andenzymes responsible for the synthesis of these natural products as well as thecompounds themselves.
B.S. Biology, UNF, 2013
I am interested in the behavior and management of marine mammals. My current research is assessing home ranges in bottlenose dolphins and is focused on improving the methodology currently used to estimate home range size.
My research is centered on the mechanisms of amino acid transport by the intestine in Atlantic white shrimp, Litopenaeus setiferus. I am specifically focusing on the simultaneous transport of 8 essential amino acids and the effects of metals on their transport. This research will show us if any amino acids are preferentially transported over other by the shrimp gut. Results will allow us to make suggestions to shrimp farms and shrimp feed developers to maximize shrimp growth by providing an optimal composition of nutrients.
B.S. Zoology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2008
Dr. Tony Rossi
My area of interest is plant-insect ecology, particularly forest insect species. My thesis research investigates the effects of galling by the midge Asphondylia borrichiae and nutrient supplementation on the survival, growth, and reproductive fitness of the sea oxeye daisy, Borrichia frutescens. Galling on B. frutescens has been observed to induce the plant to release apical dominance and sprout lateral stems. Since each stem may bear a flower, this type of herbivory may actually benefit the plant by increasing its reproductive fitness.
Dr. Judy Ochrietor
My primary interest is Immunology, the study of the immune system. My current research centers around an immune signaling molecule called Interleukin-6, which promotes inflammation when released. Currently I'm looking at how a retina specific protein (Basigin-2) can cause IL-6 secretion in a variety of different cell types and the cell signaling that triggers IL-6 expression and release.
B.S. (Biology), University of North Florida
My thesis is titled "Midgut response to Sindbis
in orally infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes".
I'm interested in investigating the interaction between the midgut of Aedine
species mosquitoes with variants of Sindbis, an Alphavirus under the Togaviridae family
utilizing confocal and electron microscopy. The midgut is the first barrier of
several that are required for the virus to cross before
the mosquito becomes infectious.
Physics, UNF 2010 and BS Math, UNF 2010. Double major.
I am primarily interested in studying the application of biological processes and systems to ameliorate pollution in areas that either have been impacted or are currently being impacted by anthropogenic pollution. One area that I am particularly interested in is the use of constructed wetlands or other biological buffer swales to control storm water runoff and the pollution that is normally associated with it. I am also interested in restorative ecology, and researching methods of returning adulterated areas to their original natural state. I hope to build upon my construction experience and to tie it with this research.
Dr. Matthew Gilg
My research interest is focused on Parkinson's disease (PD) and more specifically, Familial PD. My research goal is to identify new mutations and genes that will highlight molecules and biological pathways involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease and allow for the identification of new biomarkers and targeted therapies.
B.S. Biology, UNF, 2006
Dr. Eric Johnson
I am broadly interested in negative pressures affecting ecologically andeconomically important fish species. My current research focuses on thelionfish, a predatory marine invader from the Indo-Pacific, which has invadedthe Caribbean, Western Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico at an unprecedented rate.Previous studies on the species have been mainly focused in the Caribbean, buthave presented troubling evidence of declines in native species recruitment, competitionwith commercially important grouper and snapper species, rapid reproduction anddispersal, and the attainment of higher densities in their invaded range thanin their native range. I will be studying lionfish in a new ecosystem, NortheastFlorida, and specifically studying growth, population biology, and prey speciesconsumption in an effort to provide local fisheries managers with current andaccurate data from this biogeographical province.
B. S. Rutgers Unversity, Department of Ecology, Evolution, & Natural Resources
My research focuses on how elevated salinity influences the physiology, bloom dynamics, and toxin release of the toxigenic cyanobacterium, Microcystis aeruginosa. I am trying to determine if elevated salinity causes oxidative stress in Microcystis, which in turn may lead to programmed cell death (PCD). Also, I am analyzing whether the cyanobacterium can upregulate an antioxidant response to counteract exposure to the rise in salinity. Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (cyanoHABs) are a global problem due to increased nutrient loading from agricultural and industrial point sources. This research should potentially give us insight into harmful algal bloom dynamics and regulation of cyanobacterial populations.
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