Graduate Students

Graduate students are the life blood of the marine lab, coming from the departments of Biological Science, Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, and Geography 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

Abbey Engleman, Ph.D. student
Advisor: Dr. Sandra Brooke
My research interests are rooted in understanding coral reef ecology, resilience, and response to changes in environmental parameters. I am particularly intrigued by how anthropogenic influences- such as climate change, coastal development, artificial reef development, and recreation and tourism uses- impact coral’s response rate and reproductive success. I aim to produce research that can be applied to future conservation and management of coral reef ecosystems.

Johanna Imhoff, Ph.D. student

Advisor: Dr. Dean Grubbs
I am broadly interested in the ecology of marine fishes, mainly the elasmobranch fishes (sharks and rays). I am particularly interested in foraging and movement ecology of fishes, and the use of innovative techniques or technologies for studying them. In the past my research topics have included the use of accelerometer transmitters to study feeding and movements of aquatic animals, the movements of estuarine elasmobranchs, and ecology and conservation of endangered sawfishes. My current research focuses on the trophic ecology of six species of sharks in the northern Gulf of Mexico, ranging from the continental shelf edge (75 meters) to the lower continental slope (1000 meters). I am also studying levels of methylmercury contamination in these sharks relative to their trophic ecology, habitat, and proximity to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Katie Kaiser, MSc. student
Advisor: Dr. Janie Wulff
I am broadly interested in species interactions and distribution patterns. Particularly I'm interested in seeing how species distribution patterns have changed over time, what factors may be behind species distribution and abundance shifts, and how these affect tightly linked ecological interactions. My project address these interests by focusing on marine sponges. For my project I am recording the species distribution of marine sponges along the Florida Gulf coast, and seeing how current patterns compare to past studies as well as the individual distribution patterns of different species and genera. I'm also looking at ecological interactions involving local sponges, specifically predation by Echinaster starfish species, and sponges interactions with decorator crabs.

Chris Malinowski, Ph.D. student

Advisor: Dr. Felicia Coleman
I am interested in aquatic and marine ecology, particularly as it relates to interactions between fish and their environment. My research focus is in prey and habitat preference, demographic patterns, movement patterns, and spawning behavior. I have also in the past researched foraging ecology, niche partitioning, and nutrient selection in marine mammals. For my Ph.D. I will research the effects of shelf-edge marine protected areas on reef fish recovery, particularly the recovery of overfished species. This research will focus on economically and environmentally important coral reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico and U.S. South Atlantic, primarily groupers and snappers.

Ryan Mckenzie, MSc. student

Advisor: Dr. Felicia Coleman
My research interests are primarily focused in fish ecology and conservation. Specifically, I aim to study the essential biological factors involved with conserving both ecologically and economically important fish species. These factors include studying their reproductive ecology, social structure, habitat use and growth during their entire life history. I hope that by elucidating vital biological data through my research, I will help better educate fishery managers and the public in the sustainable use of our natural resources. Here at FSU, my current master’s research is focused on understanding the natural spawning behavior and sensory cues involved in sex-changing reef fish species. In the past I have worked on projects dealing with the fishing impacts on spawning Florida large-mouth bass, Micropterus floridanus, and understanding the role of placoid scales in the sensory biology of sharks. Recent Publications: Mckenzie, R. W., Motta, P. J. and Rohr, J. R. (2014), Comparative squamation of the lateral line canal pores in sharks. Journal of Fish Biology, 84: 1300–1311. doi: 10.1111/jfb.12353

Brian Moe, Ph.D Student

Advisors: Dr. Chip Cotton and Dr. Joe Travis 

My research interests are broadly rooted in the ecology, life history, and population dynamics of marine fishes, particularly the elasmobranchs. My past research has focused on using biphasic growth theory to better model elasmobranch lifetime growth and more accurately estimate mortality rates and rebound potentials. My current research focuses on describing the growth and life history of deepwater sharks in the Gulf of Mexico, many of which are still poorly understood. I also plan to investigate the utility of near-infrared spectroscopy as a mechanism for aging sharks, as well as continue my investigations into the biological relevance of the Lester (biphasic) growth model.

Kevin Olsen, Ph.D. student
Advisor: Dr. Don R. Levitan
I am interested in the evolutionary ecology of marine benthic invertebrates. Previously, I have studied how biotic and environmental factors act together or in isolation to influence the recruitment of reef-building corals (Olsen et al. 2013; 2014; 2015; 2016; Ross et al. 2013; 2015). For my dissertation, I'm studying the potential adaptive value of inbreeding in marine inverts using a common species of seasquirt in the Gulf of Mexico. Through this research I aim to better understand the reproductive dynamics of sessile organisms in the ocean. Recent Publications:Olsen K., Sneed J.M., Paul V.J. (2016) Differential larval settlement responses of Porites astreoides and Acropora palmata in the presence of the green alga Halimeda opuntia. Coral Reefs 35: 521-525

Cheston Peterson, Ph.D. student
Advisor: Dr. Dean Grubbs
My research interests are broadly rooted in the ecology of large marine fishes, particularly the elasmobranch fishes. My current research involves the natural history and trophic ecology of coastal sharks in the seagrass habitat of the Florida Big Bend. I am using fishery-independent gillnet and longline surveys to document the shark and larger teleost assemblages in this area, and I am describing the trophic structure of this community using stable isotope analysis. Additional interests of mine include the trophic and isotopic relationships of commensal diskfishes (the sharksucker and common remora, family Echeneidae) and elasmobranch ectoparasites and their hosts, as well as the effects of highly mobile and migratory species on ecological systems.

Bianca Prohaska, Ph.D. student
Advisor: Dr. Dean Grubbs
My research interests are in the ecological and physiological conservation of fishes. I am particularly interested in researching deep sea sharks, using plasma hormones to better understand their reproduction, and blood stress parameters relative to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. My past research has focused on developing non-lethal methods for studying the reproductive biology of elasmobranchs (sharks, skates and rays) using reproductive hormones extracted from skeletal muscle tissue. Recent Publications: Prohaska, BK, PCW Tsang, WB Driggers III, et al. 2013. Assessing reproductive status in elasmobranch fishes using steroid hormones extracted from skeletal muscle tissue. Conservation Physiology 1:doi:10.1093/conphys/cot028

Will Ryan, Ph.D. student

Advisor: Dr. Tom Miller
I am using a widespread, exotic sea anemone that can undergo both sexual and asexual reproduction to understand the conditions that promote and constrain the evolution and maintenance of sex. I am particularly interested in how the environmentally-dependent switch between asexual and sexual life histories varies across the geographic range.

Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science

Austin Heil, MSc. student
Advisor: Dr. Sandra Brooke
I am generally interested in fish ecology and marine conservation. Specifically, I am interested in understanding the reproductive biology, mating strategy and spawning behavior of economically important fish in the Gulf of Mexico. My graduate research will focus on understanding the reproductive biology of the sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus). My research will aim to quantify the spawning season of the sheepshead in the NE Gulf of Mexico, decipher differences in reproductive potential between habitats, and hopefully provide novel data examining their spawning behavior.

Bryan Keller, Ph.D. student

Advisor: Dr. Dean Grubbs
My research interests are focused on spatial ecology of elasmobranch fishes. Specifically, I am seeking to assess the role of magnetic-based navigation in the seasonal migrations of coastal sharks. Many species are known to complete philopatric migrations, but the navigational mechanisms that facilitate this success are unknown. I hope that my work might elucidate some of this uncertainty.

Mackellar Violich, MSc. student
Advisor: Dr. Dean Grubbs
I am generally interested in deep-sea ecology and marine conservation. Specifically, I am interested in spacial ecology of deep-sea species distribution with depth and geographic ranges. My graduate research will focus on relative abundance of deep-water sharks in different depths temperature and geographical ranges. I will be monitoring the species through noninvasive methodologies; using a deep-sea camera to record abundance and biodiversity.

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 3:34 PM