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
Fadeke Ibukun Adeola
M.S. Program
Advisor: Lailvaux

Research:
Email:
babin Courtney Babin
Ph.D. Program
Advisor: Bell

Research: My research is focused on the effects of polyploidy on the evolution and ecological niche differentiation among North American wild onion (Allium, Amaryllidaceae).
Email:
Amita Bhattarai
M.S. Program
Advisor:
Liu

Research: 
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:
 
carrigeeLindsay 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
Ann 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
 
Madeleine ChenevertMadeline Chenevert
M.S. Program
Advisor:
Atallah

Research: Dr. Atallah's lab measures and compares levels of RNA expression at different points throughout the development of Drosophila flies. I hope to incorporate the effects of hormone changes on development into my research.
Email:
 
cullota Austin Culotta
M.S. Program
Advisor:
 Howard

Research: I work on Orthopteran species including grasshoppers and crickets. I am currently focusing on the acoustic behavior of the cricket species Eunemobius carolinus.
Email:aculotta@uno.edu 
 
denapolis Tasia Viosca 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. The resultant historical data models will be available on www.oystersentinel.org to aid in management of both public and private oyster fisheries.
Email:

 
Jasmine Harris
M.S. Program
Advisor: Rees

Research:
Email:
hegedusMiles Hegedus
M.S. Program
Advisor:
Penz and DeVries

Research: Using the polymorphic butterfly Papilio dardanus, I am examining the role of wing shape in mimicry systems. Wing shape mimicry may be influenced by developmental constraints, ecological trade-offs, and community structure. Butterflies are good focal organisms because they sometimes land directly on my head.
Email: mhegedus@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: 
peterson Patricia Peterson
Ph.D. Program
Advisor:
 Liu

Research: We use the budding yeast as a model organism to study transcriptional regulation and expression of genes encoding mitochondrial proteins. Mitochondria participate in a diverse array of physiological processes and our goal is to understand the molecular mechanism underlying mitochondrial biogenesis. My project focuses on genes of the Mediator complex and how they are involved in achieving mitochondrial homeostasis.
Email:ppepper@my.uno.edu 
 
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:
 
profetto GinaMarie Profetto
Ph.D. Program
Advisor:
Howard

Research: I am studying the residual effects of Kudzu on its surrounding environment post to treatment. By looking at the effects on biodiversity, soil and, nearby water systems, I am able to see if the environment is resilient in that it reverts back to a pre-invaded state.
Email: gprofett@uno.edu
reemeyer Jessica Reemeyer
M.S. Program
Advisor: Rees

Research: Hypoxia is currently an increasingly pervasive occurrence in freshwater and marine ecosystems. As oxygen is required on a biochemical level for the survival of most animals, hypoxia can have negative effects on an animal’s performance by limiting its capacity for aerobic metabolic activity. My research aims to investigate how some aspects of an individual fish’s physiology allows it to cope with this stressor better than other individuals of the same species. Broadly, I’m interested in the interaction between environmental factors and physiological performance in fishes.
Email: jereemey@uno.edu 
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
reemeyer Troy Sehlinger
M.S. Program
Advisor:
Soniat and DeVries

Research: : The effects of salinity and temperature on eastern oyster growth and mortality in Breton Sound and Barataria Bay.
Email:tsehlinger@wlf.la.gov 
 
MarkMarc 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: 
weber Anna Weber
M.S. Program
Advisor:
Anthony

Research: My current research focuses on inbreeding prevalence and avoidance in a group of mandrills in Lopé National Park, Gabon. Specifically, we aim to determine whether female mandrills choose mates based on genetic dissimilarity in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), a set of genes with important immune function. I am broadly interested in the use of genetic tools in biological conservation and ecology.

Email: aweber2@uno.edu

weidow Elliot Weidow
M.S. Program
Advisor:
Howard

Research: I study the invasive aquatic plant Eichhornia crassipes (Pontederiaceae) commonly known as water hyacinth. I am interested in how historical events and have shaped the genetic diversity of this plant. My broader interests include invasive plants, plant reproduction, and clonal plants.
Email: edweido1@uno.edu
Henry WoolleyHenry Woolley
Ph.D. Program
Advisor:
Howard

Research: : We are working to quantify the effects that different factors of habitat quality have on the recruitment success of the endangered Mississippi sandhill crane (Grus canadensis pulla). My research interests lie in understanding the mechanisms and conservation implications of habitat-level ecosystem processes.
Email: