Graduate Students

The Department of Biological Sciences offers graduate training leading to the MS in Biological Sciences or the PhD in Integrative Biology. Students work closely with the research faculty to select appropriate courses and conduct independent research. Many projects are funded through state and federal grants and contracts. Student research frequently involves collaboration with other scientists from other institutions or field work in diverse settings.

 
Graduate Student Advisor and Interests
babin 
Courtney Babin
M.S. Program
Advisor: Howard

Research: My research involves the energy allocated in reproduction of Triadica sebifera, commonly known as the Chinese tallow tree. My other interests include invasive species, wetlands ecology, molecular phylogenetics, and conservation biology.
Email:
ManikaManika Bhondeley
Ph.D. Program
Advisor:
Liu

Research: I am using the budding yeast as a model organism to study the regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis. My project focuses on the regulation of Hap4, a master regulator of expression of genes encoding mitochondrial proteins. Hap4 is subject to both transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulations. I hope to gain insights into how mitochondrial biogenesis adapts to changes in the external and internal cellular environments.
Email:
 
Rebecca Callaway
M.S. Program
Advisor:
Howard

Research: 
Email:
 
carrigeeLinsay Carrigee
Ph.D. Program
Advisor:
Schluchter

Research: My research involves the characterization of proteins involved in type IV chromatic acclimation in marine species of cyanobacteria (Synechococcus spp). This acclimation process involves regulation of enzymes which vary chromophore attachment to light harvesting proteins in order to optimize them for photosynthesis in either blue or green light. I am exploring the role of several putative enzymes in this process using heterologous expression systems in E. coli.
Email:
 
Anne Cespedes
Anne Cespedes
Ph.D. Program
Advisor:
Lailvaux

Research: My research is aimed at understanding how trade-offs and constraints affect the evolution of performance and adaptive functional morphology in various animal taxa. My PhD project focuses on local Anolis carolinensis lizards, testing for sex-specific trade-offs among a suite of whole-organism performance traits by measuring relationships both among performance traits, and between morphology and performance while preserving the multivariate context in which these traits exist. I am also interested in the implications of performance trade-offs for responses to selection, and have created an individual-based simulation program to predict phenotypic evolution in response to the interplay between trade-offs, genetic constraints, and selection on multiple performance capacities.
Email:anniecespedes@gmail.com
 
Madeline Chenevert
M.S. Program
Advisor:
Atallah

Research: 
Email:
 
collinsMorgan Collins
M.S. Program
Advisor:
Liu

Research: I am working on the regulation of Haa1-mediated organic acid stress response pathway in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Haa1 is a transcriptional activator homologous to the copper-activated transcription factor Ace1. Currently, we are looking at how Haa1 is regulated by upstream regulators in response to acetic acid treatment.
Email:
 
Tasha Denapolis
M.S. Program
Advisor:
Soniat and Howard

Research: I am modeling an oyster (Crassostrea virginica) Habitat Suitability Index for the Lake Pontchartrain Basin and Barataria Bay based on salinity and temperature data.
Email:
 
hegedusMiles Hegedus
M.S. Program
Advisor:
Penz and DeVries

Research: My research interests focus on the evolution of wing shape in various tropical butterflies. Butterflies are good focal species because they sometimes land directly on my head.
Email:
Christina Kronfel
Christina Kronfel  
PhD. Program
Advisor:
Schluchter

Research: My graduate research project includes characterizing the biosynthetic pathway of a red fluorescent protein from the light-harvesting complex in the cyanobacterium Fremyella diplosiphon. Specifically, we are attempting to identify the enzymes responsible for attaching the chromophores to the fluorescent protein phycoerythrin. These light harvesting proteins have very unique spectral properties making them ideal candidates for biotechnology as fluorescent tags which span a wide range of the visible light spectrum.
Email: cmkronfe@uno.edu
Miller Courtney Miller 
Ph.D. Program
Advisor:
Anthony

Research: My research focuses on threats to amphibians and potential conservation schemes to mitigate these threats. The majority of my work involves predicting the potential of a widespread species of forest frog in Central Africa, Phrynobatrachus auritus, to respond to climate change by analyzing its genetic and morphological variation. I am also working on modeling the distribution of the amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which causes an infectious disease resulting in worldwide population declines, under current and future climate projections.
Email: 
prestonDevin Preston
Ph.D. Program
Advisor:
Johnson

Research: I am interested what drives, maintains, and limits the evolution of phenotypic plasticity in natural populations. I am using populations of the eastern lubber grasshopper, Romalea guttata (microptera) to investigate temporal and spatial environmental heterogeneity as potential drivers of phenotypic plasticity.
Email:
 
Gina Profetto 
Ph.D. Program
Advisor:
Howard

Research: The focus of my research is the effects of the invasive plant species, Kudzu, on the environment. I am looking at the effects on biodiversity, soil nutrient levels, and eutrophication. I am also doing a comparative study between the effects of Kudzu with different management treatment plans.
Email:
Trent Santonastaso
Trent
Santonastaso
Ph.D. Program
Advisor:
Anthony

Research: We are characterizing immunogenes in the reptile genome. Along with these genes under selective pressure we will use microsatellite multiplexes to determine how parasites influence host genetic structure both spatially and temporally.
Email: tsantona@my.uno.edu
Troy Sehlinger
M.S. Program
Advisor:
Soniat and DeVries

Research: 
Email:
 
MarkMark Stylman
 
M.S. Program
Advisor:
DeVries and Penz

Research: My research concerns the flight habits and kinematics of the Neotropical Haeterini butterflies, in particular those of the genus Pierella, whose hindwings are uniquely large with respect to their forewings. My other interests include conservation biology and science education.
Email: mstylma1@uno.edu
sukhdeoChristie Sukhdeo Ph.D. Program
Advisor:
Anthony and T. Keith Philips (WKU)

Research: I am interested in using molecular tools and morphological characters to characterize the dung beetle (Coleoptera: Scarabaeinae) fauna of Cameroon, Africa in terms of their species richness and phylogenetic diversity (i.e. distinct evolutionary histories). I aim to test the hypothesis that montane lineages of dung beetles are younger than the adjacent lowland lineages. Support for this hypothesis would provide evidence that montane areas play important roles in driving lineage diversification. I am also interested in examining the impacts of bush-meat hunting on co-dependent invertebrate communities.
Email: 
Anna Weber
M.S. Program
Advisor:
Anthony

Research: 
Email:
 
ElliotElliot Weidow
M.S. Program
Advisor:
Howard

Research: Currently I am studying the population structure of the invasive aquatic plant Eichhornia crassipes (Pontederiaceae), water hyacinth. My broader interests lie in the reproduction, spread, and population structure of nonnative plant species and particularly clonal plants.
Email:
Henry Wooley
Ph.D. Program
Advisor:
Howard

Research: 
Email: