Current Graduate Students

Graduate students are the life blood of the marine lab, coming from the departments of Biological Science and Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences to work with resident faculty. Their enthusiasm, inquisitiveness, and creativity are contagious to everyone with whom they interact on the laboratory campus, including the staff, each other, and the faculty.

Biological Science

Laura Anthony, MSc. student (Advisor Dr. Sandra Brooke)                         
I am broadly interested in the ecology of deep-sea coral and sponge habitats. The majority of earth’s surface consists of deep-sea environments, yet little is known about the organisms that live there. Thus, I aim to understand how environmental processes impact deep-sea coral community distribution, reproduction, and more. I particularly hope to work towards the conservation and stewardship of these understudied ecosystems.

Erica Atkins, Ph.D. student (Advisor Dr. Scott Burgess)
My research interests lie in the field of conservation genetics. My previous research utilized a combination of genomic approaches including massive parallel sequencing and sanger sequencing to examine connectivity and sex biased dispersal of a large marine predator in the Gulf of Mexico. My dissertation research will focus on the characterization of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data to understand the impacts of larval dispersal on population structure and genetic relatedness of a bryozoan in the Gulf of Mexico.

Danie Barnes, MSc. student (Advisor Dr. Scott Burgess)
My research interests lie in the ecology and evolution of dispersal and population structure of benthic marine invertebrates. I am specifically interesting in studying the kin structure of bryozoans in the Gulf of Mexico. My previous research examined predator-induced phenotypic plasticity of sand dollars and sea urchins across life history stages.

Donaven Baughman, MSc. student (Advisor Dr. Andrew Shantz)

My research interests are mainly focused in coastal ecology and how larval and juvenile invertebrates respond to environmental change. The juvenile stage is critical to survival and recruitment, and ultimately to the success of wild populations. My current work with the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) aims to understand how salinity regime effects juveniles ability to induce morphological defenses in response to their predators. I also hope to look at reef structure and density on the survival of juvenile oysters to provide useful insight for management and aquaculture purposes. 

Rachael Best, Ph.D. Candidate (Advisor Dr. Don Levitan)
I am broadly interested in the ecology of marine invertebrates and how they respond to environmental stressors. I am investigating how high macroalgal cover or sedimentation affect gorgonian octocorals in the northeast Gulf of Mexico. Despite their global distribution, octocorals are largely understudied. Thus, I will evaluate the mechanisms driving observed patterns of their distribution, abundance, and population dynamics on limestone reefs and how increasing stressors alter these populations.

Randi Bowman, Ph.D. student (Advisor Dr. Sandra Brooke)
I am broadly interested in studying how biodiversity affects ecosystem functioning in coral reef ecosystems. I use a combination of observational, field, and lab studies to identify and predict spatial and temporal shifts in coral functional diversity in response to anthropogenic stressors. My objective is to determine which aspects of functional diversity are key to maintaining high-level ecosystem functioning in the face of regularly occurring disturbances. My goal is to use my research to inform coral reef conservation and management strategies.


Ethan Cissell, Ph.D. Candidate (Advisor Dr. Sophie McCoy)    
I am interested in trophic interactions in complex microbial communities, especially top-down controls. My research explores how the relative influence and identity of top-down forces are altered by global change. For my dissertation, I am exploring how altered interactions between bacteriophages and bacteria influence the growth and persistence of coral reef cyanobacterial mat communities.

FSUCML shines spotlight on Cissell


Ashley Dawdy, MSc. student (Advisor Dr. Dean Grubbs)
I am primarily interested in elasmobranch movement ecology, particularly for species of conservation concern. My past research used active and passive acoustic telemetry to investigate drivers of movement behavior in coastal sharks. My MS research includes the use of acoustic telemetry to investigate social and mating behavior in the critically endangered smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) in the Florida Keys, as well as to study the habitat use of Atlantic cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) in Apalachicola Bay, FL. This work contributes to the delineation of essential fish habitat and informs the building of successful species conservation plans.


Jake Ephron, Ph.D. student (Advisor Dr. Sophie McCoy)                         
I am broadly interested in how anthropogenic stressors affect marine invertebrate fisheries on a population level. I am interested in taking theoretical and applied approaches to oyster reef and fisheries management and utilizing them within a global change context for the Florida Gulf Coast and Salish Sea. 

Emily Fuqua, Ph.D. student (Advisor Dr. Sandra Brooke) 
My research interests are based in applied ecophysiology. I am interested in how anthropogenic changes to the environment, such as increasing ocean temperature and increasing anoxic zones, affect an organism’s physiology, and in turn, how physiological changes affect an organism’s behavior and ecology. My PhD research will focus on Eastern oyster health in the Apalachicola Bay system, and my goal is to assist fisheries managers and conservationists in restoring and preserving a healthy oyster population in Apalachicola Bay.                      

Blake Hamilton, MSc. student (Advisor Dr. Dean Grubbs)
I am a fisheries ecologist interested in contributing to natural resource management. For my masters, my research focuses on the trophic and community ecology of elasmobranchs in the Apalachicola Bay system (ABS). I am describing community and species-level habitat associations for large fishes in the ABS, and describing nutrient source contributions to consumer biomass via stable isotopes with the aim of quantifying the relative importance of river-transported nutrients for 5 species of sharks common in the ABS. I also coordinate the Grubbs Lab’s GulfSPAN survey which monitors coastal shark communities along Florida’s Big Bend while leading a Save Our Seas Foundation funded project on the movement ecology of blacknose sharks (Carcharhinus acronotus).

Morgan Hawkins, MSc. student (Advisor Dr. Sandra Brooke)
My research focuses on using natural and artificial chemical cues oyster larvae use to set onto a substrate, and using those cues to increase settlement rates in a hatchery setting. Using these findings, I will be able to research which techniques are optimal for restoration purposes. I hope to also explore southern bay scallops, by developing a technique to use within our own experimental hatchery to better understand their diminishing populations, ultimately finding which restorative methods are the most successful in returning a healthy number of scallops to our bay.

Joseph Horacek, Ph.D. student (Dr. Jeroen Ingels)
I am primarily interested in the ecology of marine meiofauna, particularly metazoan meiofauna. My research at FSU primarily deals with investigating genetic and morphological connectivity between populations of meiofaunal nematodes. I am also interested in molecular ecology, evolutionary biology, and conservation biology. Meiofauna are an important yet often under-studied component of the benthic environment. I hope my research will help elucidate the role of meiofauna in the marine ecosystems.

Josh Manning, Ph.D. Candidate (Dr. Sophie McCoy)
I am broadly interested in algal ecology, particularly the ecology of crustose coralline algae (CCA) on coral reefs. I am also interested in how anthropogenic change is altering coral reef communities, and how human stresses are interacting with natural processes such as herbivory and competition. My MSc thesis research focused on the effects of ocean acidification on CCA common to the coral reefs of Mo'orea, French Polynesia, and I hope to build upon this research working with Dr. McCoy. 

FSUCML shines spotlight on Manning


Marty Martinez, MSc. student (Advisor Dr. Scott Burgess)
My research interests are mainly focused on the ecology and genetics of marine invertebrates. I am currently interested in documenting the effects of environmental stress on the severity of inbreeding depression in Bugula neritina, a species of bryozoan located in the Gulf of Mexico. I have previously researched the interactions between marine microbes and carbon, sulfur, and energy cycles in the ocean.



Sean McCollum, Ph.D. student (Advisor Dr. Sophie McCoy)
I am interested in the role of seagrass meadows as blue carbon ecosystems. These ecosystems help mitigate climate change by burying large quantities of organic carbon in their sediments. My research focuses on how anthropogenic activities such as nutrient enrichment impact the carbon sink capacity of seagrass meadows. Currently, I am investigating how nutrient enrichment influences the decomposition of buried organic matter within seagrass meadows. I earned my BS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz where I researched the functional composition and diversity of invertebrate zooplankton communities off the coast of Santa Catalina Island, CA.                      

Brian Moe, Ph.D Student (Advisors Dr. Chip Cotton and Dr. Joseph Travis)
My research interests are rooted in the ecology, life history, and population dynamics of elasmobranchs. My past research focused on using biphasic life‐history trade‐offs to model elasmobranch lifetime growth and to estimate mortality rates and rebound potentials (still of great interest), whereas my current research describes the age (using near-infrared spectroscopy), growth and life history patterns of deepwater sharks in the Gulf of Mexico, many of which are still poorly understood.


Annais Muschett-Bonilla, Ph.D. student (Advisor Dr. Dean Grubbs) 
I am interested in studying sexual behavior and less common phenomenons such as parthenogenesis and capture-induced parturition in elasmobranchs. My goal is to uncover the biological and evolutionary forces behind these topics and help discover fishing gear types that result in lower mortality and bycatch rates. My research will fill a large knowledge gap in this field and provide insight into how anthropogenic factors can affect organismal fitness and behaviors. This information may be applied to conservation methods to amplify threatened shark populations.


Jackson Powell, Ph.D. Candidate (Advisor Dr. Scott Burgess)
I am interested in the evolution of marine organisms that undergo metamorphosis and have multiple life stages. I  investigate how selection across the planktonic larval and benthic adult stages of certain marine invertebrates presents the possibility of constraining adaptive evolution to novel or changing environments.  In doing so, I plan to highlight the importance of considering multiple life stages when attempting to predict how populations will respond to climate-change and anthropogenic effects.
FSUCML shines spotlight on Powell

Bobbie Renfro, Ph.D. Candidate (Advisor Dr. Janie Wulff)                          
I am generally interested in conducting research, teaching, and public outreach related to tropical marine ecology and anthropogenic disturbance. Specifically, my dissertation research explores the effects of nutrient enrichment on Caribbean reef sponges.

Aaron Ridall, Ph.D. student (Advisor Dr. Jeroen Ingels)                          
I am broadly interested in how anthropogenic pollution affects marine environments. In particular, I am interested in how microplastics change nutrient availability in subtidal sediments. My current research focuses on quantifying the effects of microplastics on ecosystem function, specifically bioturbation and denitrification, in the subtidal sediments of the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. I also hope to assess the concentration of microplastics in the Gulf of Mexico and around the Florida peninsula to contribute to the on-going need for specific data on the presence of microplastics in the ocean.


Michael Wintermantel, Ph.D. student (Advisor Dr. Sandra Brooke and Dr. Don Levitan)                        
My research interests focus on the organismal biology and physiology of marine organisms. I am particularly interested in larval and planktonic life-stages, and am working with the Apalachicola Bay System Initiative to help understand the challenges faced by the larvae of Eastern Oysters. I aim to understand how stress early in an oyster’s life affects its development, survival, and reproductive success as an adult. I hope to contribute my research to restoration efforts of the Bay’s ecosystems and to find a solution for future enjoyment of a healthy ecosystem and sustainable oyster fishery.

Earth Ocean & Atmospheric Science

Adam Alfasso, Ph.D. student (Advisor Dr. Sandra Brooke)

My research interests are focused on marine and aquatic ecology, and the response of communities to changing environmental factors.  I am particularly focused on predictive habitat and distribution modelling for marine fishes and coral ecosystems.  My current project is creating a habitat suitability model for mesophotic corals in the Big Bend region.  I aim to produce research that can be applied to the protection and management of at risk marine habitats.

Anthony Sogluizzo, MSc. Student (Advisor Dr. Sandra Brooke)                          
I am broadly interested in coral reef ecology but more specifically in the interactions between coral host and photosynthetic algal symbiont (zooxanthellae). My project intends to reveal how symbiont communities change in coral tissues based on natural seasonal and latitudinal gradients from the Florida Panhandle to the Florida Keys. Ultimately, I want to show how corals and their symbiont communities might change in response to climate change.


Jenny Bueno, MSc. student (Advisors Dr. Sandra Brooke and Dr. Sarah Lester)
My research interests include marine conservation and restoration. I have previous experience using remote sensing techniques to detect coastal change in lacustrine environments. I am interested in applying these techniques and learning more ways to conserve and restore marine ecosystems. Co-advised by Dr. Sarah Lester and Dr. Sandra Brooke, I aim to research the decline and future restoration of Apalachicola Bay as part of the Apalachicola Bay System Initiative. 

Last Updated: Monday, January 24, 2022 at 12:50 PM