We are Graduate Students in the Department of Marine Science at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Check out the department website, and the Institute of Marine Science website for more information about our program and research!
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Research Area: Coral Physiology/ Biogeochemistry
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Advisor: Dr. Karl Castillo
Justin is a third year PhD student in Karl Castillo’s coral physiology lab. He graduated from The Ohio State University in August 2011 with Honors research distinction in Biology and Earth Sciences. Justin recently completed his MS in Earth Sciences at Ohio State, working with Dr. Andrea Grottoli. His undergraduate research focused on the effects of single and repeat bleaching on photosynthesis, respiration, and feeding in Caribbean corals, and his Master’s work focused on the effects of temperature stress on the acquisition and allocation of carbon to lipids in Hawaiian corals. The Castillo lab is currently working on biogeochemical analysis of coral cores from Belize. In addition to his research, Justin is interested in ocean advocacy, marine policy, and conservation. In his spare time he enjoys running, ultimate, and soccer, and is an avid sports fan.
Research Area: Coastal Nutrient Cycling
Advisor: Michael Piehler
Kathleen recently graduated with her MS. She is currently working as a research technician in Dr. Mike Piehler’s lab, located at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City, where she did her graduate work. Her research focused on denitrification rates in restored oyster reefs and salt marshes. This project involved both lab and field work in the beautiful coastal ecosystems near Cape Lookout. Kathleen is broadly interested in the ways that scientific research can inform restoration of aquatic habitats. She graduated from Colgate University in 2010 with honors in Environmental Biology. Kathleen’s hobbies include field hockey, sending snail mail, and playing the flute.
Advisor: Dr. Hans Paerl
Alex is a third year Phd student with Dr. Hans Paerl in the Coastal Environmental and Microbiological Processes Lab. Her research is focused on organic nitrogen cycling within freshwater and estuarine ecosystems, specifically how changes in organic nitrogen loading may change phytoplankton community abundance and composition. Alex graduated from the University of Virginia in 2012 with degrees in chemistry and environmental sciences. Before joining UNC, she worked as a staff chemist at Mote Marine Laboratory located in sunny Sarasota, FL. When not studying or in the lab, she can be found reading, cooking, running, or sailing.
Research Area: Marine community ecology
Advisor: Dr. Joel Fodrie
Shelby is a second year PhD student in the Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology working with Dr. Joel Fodrie in the Coastal Fisheries Oceanography & Ecology Lab. Her research focuses on understanding how habitat connectivity and trophic interactions influence community dynamics and secondary production in coastal marine systems. Shelby graduated from the College of William and Mary in 2013 with a degree in Biology. Before attending to UNC she worked as a research technician for Dr. Emmett Duffy at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences and became extremely involved with the Zostera Experimental Network. In her free time Shelby can be found, doing yoga, mountain biking, hiking, or curling up with a book and a nice cup of coffee
Research Area: Phytoplankton ecology
Rob loves marine life. He is a second year graduate student interested in using powerful computers and various ‘omics’ approaches to answer questions about phytoplankton communities. He graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science from North Carolina State University in 2012. Outside of work, Rob tries to go on new adventures, listen to a lot of bluegrass, and brew the perfect cup of coffee.
Research Area: Ocean acidification and warming on corals
Advisor: Dr. Karl Castillo
Colleen is in her second year as a Ph.D. student in the Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology working with Dr. Karl Castillo in the Coral Physiology Lab. She is studying the response of Caribbean corals, specifically those from Southern Belize, to ocean acidification and warming stressors. She graduated from UNC Wilmington with a degree in Marine Biology in 2014. After graduating, she worked as a research assistant at UNCW’s Center for Marine Science and later was a lab tech at UNC. When not in the lab, Colleen enjoys traveling to new locations, cheering on her favorite hockey team, and being a foodie.
Research Area: Sustainable fisheries and marine protected area management
Advisor: Dr. John Bruno
Erin is a first year Masters student in the Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology working with Dr. John Bruno in the Marine Ecology Lab. She is interested in community engagement in MPAs, sustainable fishing practices, and coral reef resiliency. A two-time National Geographic Young Explorer Grantee, Erin previously studied community-based invasive species management in the Florida Keys and Fiji (coincidently, both are warm, beautiful places with good diving). After graduating from the College of William and Mary in 2014, Erin worked in digital communications at National Geographic and Ocean Conservancy in Washington, D.C. When not in the lab, you can find Erin at the barn with her horse, King, training for her next triathlon, or trying new coffee shops.