About Us


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!

Follow us: @UNdertheCblog                      Email us: UNdertheCblog@gmail.com

*Disclaimer: This is a student run blog. The opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of the authors, and are not endorsed by UNC, the Department of Marine Science, the Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS).

Current Authors:

For information on alumni, click here.

Justin Baumann


Research Area: Coral Physiology/ Biogeochemistry

Email: baumannj@live.unc.edu ,  j.baumann3@gmail.com


Website: http://jbaumann3.wordpress.com/

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.

Alex Hounshell

Alex HResearch Area: Freshwater and estuarine nitrogen cycling

Email: alexgh@live.unc.edu

Twitter: @Seashells1111

Website: http://ahounshell5.wixsite.com/research

Advisor: Dr. Hans Paerl 

Alex is a fifth year Phd student with Dr. Hans Paerl in the Coastal Environmental and Microbiological Processes Lab.  Her research is focused on organic matter cycling within freshwater and estuarine ecosystems, specifically looking at how changes in organic matter 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.

Shelby Ziegler

img_5453Research Area: Marine community ecology


Twitter: @slziegler220

Website: shelbyziegler.net

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.

Erin Spencer


Research Area: Sustainable fisheries and marine protected area management

Email: etspencer@unc.edu

Twitter: @etspencer

Website: invasivespeciesinitiative.com

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 (coincidentally, 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.

Jessamin Straub

Jessie_BlogResearch Area: Coastal Geology, Coastal Hazards and Resilience

Email: jessamin@live.unc.edu

Twitter: @jessamin_amelia

Website: https://jessaminsscience.wordpress.com/

Advisors: Dr. Antonio Rodriguez & Dr. Rick Luettich

Jessie is a second year Masters student in the Marine Sciences Department. Her research focuses on providing insights into challenges associated with predicting dune erosion and incorporating dune-erosion as part of a coastal forecasting system for coastal communities. In addition to her graduate degree, she is perusing the Natural Hazards Resilience Certificate Program through the UNC Coastal Resilience Center. Jessie is broadly interested in helping coastal communities become more resilient, and engaging science and scientists in the policy process. She graduated from Coastal Carolina University in 2015 with a B.S. in Marine Sciences. Before starting at UNC, she worked at the National Science Foundation as a Science Assistant and previously at the Coastal Sustainability Studio at Louisiana State University. In her free time she is usually found hiking a National or State park, cooking or baking, and attending sporting events.

Carson Miller

waffleResearch Area: Coastal geology

Email: carsonm@live.unc.edu

Twitter: @ceebeee11

Website: https://ceebeee.wordpress.com/

Advisor: Dr. Antonio Rodriguez

Carson is a second year master’s student in the Marine Sciences department working with Dr. Tony Rodriguez. Her research focuses on examining the landward movement of marshes in response to changes in storms and sea level rise. Carson graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016 with a degree in Geology. Before attending UNC, again, she was a research assistant for Dr. Steve Fegely, Dr. Joel Fodrie, and Dr. Tony Rodriguez (all at UNC). In her free time you can find her napping with her dog, Waffle, on the beach, or playing soccer.


2 thoughts on “About Us

  1. Pingback: UNderthC’s Year in Review | UNder the C

  2. Pingback: Two Years of UNdertheC! | UNder the C

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