Our Grad Students
Learn more about this year's Biology graduate students.
Gillian graduated from the University of West Georgia in 2019 with a BS in Biology. During her undergraduate career, she completed and presented research on phytoplankton and the ways their environment impacts them. Her research brought her to the Gulf Coast, where she fell in love with the area and decided to pursue graduate studies at UWF. She is currently working with Dr. Wade Jeffrey for her MS thesis on marine microbiology. Her thesis work is focused on exploring how storm runoff affects the microbes in the local bayous
Katie is currently a graduate student at UWF. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2019 with a B.S. in Finance. Upon volunteer work with sea turtle rehabilitation, her interest in marine biology developed. She plans to conduct research in marine ecology.
Lindsay graduated from Kansas State University with a B.S. in Biology. She then served in Zambia as a Peace Corps Volunteer after which, she completed two internships. One in Cozumel, Mexico where she became a PADI Scuba Divemaster and the other in Greece with the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation. In Greece, Lindsay compared microplastic accumulation in native (Arbacia lixula) and invasive (Diadema setosum) sea urchins and has since been interested in researching microplastics. Lindsay began her graduate work at UWF in the Janosik Lab in the Fall of 2020 and is assessing microplastic contamination in unviable sea turtle eggs in Northwest Florida. Working as a camp counselor for Sea Turtle Camp in North Carolina, volunteering with the animal care team at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center, and participating in sea turtle patrols with Escambia County, Lindsay loves her sea turtles.
Rebekah received her B.S. in Biological Science from McNeese State University in 2021. She is a second-year thesis student working in the lab of Dr. Scott Taylor. Her current research investigates the role the microRNA miR-9 has on retinal development and photoreceptor regeneration in zebrafish.
Hunter is originally from Northwest Florida and is currently enrolled as a non-thesis biology graduate student. Hunter completed his undergraduate degree at UWF in 2022, graduating with a dual major in marine biology and general biology. While enrolled as an undergrad Hunter worked as a Bio Success leader, gaining an appreciation for teaching and helping other students with materials covered in lectures. Hunter hopes to be able to spread his appreciation for biology after finishing his master's degree.
Delaney graduated from Allegheny College in Meadville, PA in 2021 with a B.S. in Environmental Science. During the summer of 2018, she participated in an REU program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore where she conducted research under Dr. Maurice Crawford studying the presence of microplastics in fish native to the Chesapeake Bay. After graduating, she served in the Maryland Conservation Corps for a year before continuing to get her Master’s degree in Biology at UWF.
Dixie graduated from the University of West Florida in the Spring of 2022 with a BS in Marine Biology and a BA in Maritime Studies. While completing her undergraduate degrees she participated in the Kugelman Honors Program in which she completed an undergraduate thesis studying the biological components of shipwrecks. She also had the opportunity to assist in research establishing a baseline database of microbial species in the Gulf of Mexico under Dr. Wade Jeffrey. During the summer of 2022, Dixie worked as a Divemaster and Deckhand aboard marine vessels. She hopes to begin her thesis work studying shipwreck microbiomes with Dr. Jeffery in Fall 2022.
Kayla graduated from the University of West Florida in 2021 with a B.S. in Biology. During her undergraduate studies, she participated in research under Dr. Joe Lepo to study mask efficacy using Streptococcus mutans as a surrogate for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Kayla began graduate school in the fall of 2021 in Dr. Scott Taylor's laboratory to study the role of miR-155 in adult and developing zebrafish retinas.
Originally from Rancho Cucamonga, California, Kaylee moved to Corvallis, Oregon to attend Oregon State University to get her B.S. in Zoology. Now a Master’s student at UWF, Kaylee is working on using environmental DNA to monitor the endangered reticulated flatwoods salamander. This project involves developing models of detection for the endangered salamanders that correlate with factors that may be contributing to their survival and persistence.
Emma graduated from the University of West Florida with a B.S. in marine biology and a minor in psychology in 2019. While completing her undergraduate degree, Emma was given the opportunity to work with the Piacenza Lab as an intern and volunteer to conduct sea turtle research using stereo-video cameras. Upon graduating in 2019, Emma decided to return to UWF to obtain her Master's degree in biology while continuing to work with the Piacenza Lab to remotely estimate sea turtle biomass in the northern Gulf of Mexico using stereo-video cameras. This is Emma's second year as a graduate student, and she is excited to present her findings in marine turtle research and conservation. Emma's goal is to earn her Ph.D. and teach biology and perform research at university.
Micayla, originally from Jamaica, graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2021 with her BS in Biology. During her undergrad, she was able to explore multiple research opportunities. In 2018, she participated in an REU program at the University of Connecticut/ Mystic Aquarium where she assisted with a project investigating the Effects of Sunscreen on Oyster Larvae. She analyzed Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria during her summer internship with the USDA in 2019. In her senior year of undergrad, she completed an independent research project examining Fiddler Crab Behavioral Responses to Synthetic Estrogen. As of Fall 2022, she will be pursuing her Master’s Degree while working in Dr. Christopher Pomory’s Lab.
Natalie graduated from the University of North Georgia in 2020 with a BS in Biology. Initially interested in forest systems, she studied the effects of primary versus secondary (human-disturbed) forests on orchid bee population composition in Monteverde, Costa Rica. However, after graduating, she was drawn to the ocean and is now interested in how humans are affecting oceanic systems, which has manifested into studying microplastic pollution. Natalie is a master's student in the Janosik Lab, and she is currently working on quantifying microplastic concentrations of water samples taken from Pensacola Bay Watershed to look at riverine load into Pensacola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Her thesis work involves quantifying microplastics in benthic invertebrates from the Antarctic to determine to what extent humans are affecting one of the most remote environments in the world.
Kaleigh graduated from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg in 2017 with a BS in Marine Science. She has previously worked with a local oyster aquaculture facility. In addition to her aquaculture experience, she was an undergrad TA for Biological Oceanography as well as an intern for the Canterbury School of FL Marine Science course. Her graduate work in Dr. Pomory's lab began in fall of 2022 and will focus on anthropogenic impacts on commercially important marine invertebrates.
Mackenzie graduated from UWF in the Spring of 2021 with a BS in biomedical sciences. From 2017 to 2022 he was on the UWF cross country team. Beginning in the Fall of 2022 he will be doing research on zebra fish in Dr. Scott Taylor’s lab.