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. 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. 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. Greg Ahearn
I am interested in membrane biology. Right now I am working with BBMV of lobsters. My current research is to find out whether these BBMVs can be frozen and still have same qualitative results as those of fresh sample.
B.S. (Biology), University of North Florida
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.
Dr. Judith Ochrietor
Protein binding within the neural retina and the chaperones involved.
B.S. Biology, Molecular and Cell Biology, UNF,
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. 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
Dr. Matt Kimball
My M.S. thesis is focused on the spatial and temporal structure of the ichthyoplankton community that ingresses into the Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas (GTM) estuary. The GTM estuary is utilized by a number of commercially and recreationally important fish species including red drum, sheepshead, menhaden and flounder. Some of these species reproduce in or near the estuary, whereas others are spawned over the continental shelf and must spend significant time in transit to reach estuarine nursery grounds. Knowledge of the species entering the estuary throughout the year will provide baseline information from which we can gauge the effects of climate change, and may help define essential fish habitat.
B.S. Biology & Environmental Science, The College of William and Mary, 2005
M.Ed. Secondary Science Education, University of Florida, 2007
My research will focus on characterizing the salt tolerance mechanisms in bald cypress trees. I intend to take an integrative approach to study the cellular and physiological responses to salt stress for plants in the lab and in situ.
B.S. Biology, University of North Florida
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
Principles of Biology
I am interested in studying the hypersensitive response of the sea grass Thalassia testudinum, turtle grass; specifically the induction of the hypersentive response when infected by Labyrinthula sp.
B.S. (Biology), University of West Florida, 2008
Dr. Doria Bowers
The main objectives of my research are to isolate and analyze persistent variants of the arbovirus, Sindbis (SIN) that have been challenged in the mosquito host for 30 days.
B.S. Biology, University of North Florida,2009
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.
I am interested in the effects of climate change and the associated rising sea surface temperatures on the recruitment and health of Caribbean reef-building corals. My research also investigates the mechanisms of competition between various macroalgal species and hard corals for space on reefs.
B.S. Biology University of North Florida, 2011
Dr. Doria Bowers, Dr. Greg Ahearn and Brian Coughlin
I am studying the bio-activity of the artificial sweetener sucralose, namely its effects on environmental bacterial isolates, and its effects of transport proteins and enzyme kinetics.
B.S. (Biology), University of North Florida, 2010
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 Florida
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. Dale Casamatta
My research focus will investigate the epiphytic algal community in responses to elevated salinity and nutrient levels in the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve. The impacts on the epiphytic algal community from anthropogenic eutrophication, increased sea levels, and increased water withdrawals from freshwater rivers and streams on the diversity, productivity, and ecophysiology has seen little research. Addressing these impacts individually, as well as cumulatively, will lead to better understanding of how primary producers are affected by hydrological changes.
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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