Graduate Students

Zachary Topor – PhD Student (2017 – Present)

BS Marine Science, University of Maine – 2016

Growing up in Connecticut, I decided that I was going to be a marine scientist, study the mystery of the ocean blue, and be outside. Thus far I have fulfilled my childhood goals, continually amazed and motivated by how much we have yet to learn about our oceans. Attending the University of Maine as an undergrad exposed me to many unique aspects of marine science. Learning all the ways that questions can be asked, answered, and debated spurned me towards the path of academia. Driven by my love of the outdoors, I’ve pursued many types of field work. I have experience in scientific diving (AAUS) for lobsters in Maine (UMaine), diving for cryptobenthic fish from Panama to Maine (Smithsonian Environmental Research Center), as well as large oceanic cruises to sample plankton (NOAA, ULL). All of my experiences have shaped the type of questions that I want to investigate.

Interactions between animals within their environment provides an intimate look into an organism’s ecology. I am interested in community ecology as it applies to the plankton in the context of climate change. Plankton are the intersection of oceanography and biology, and comprise an integral part of all marine systems. Understanding the affect of ocean climate change on plankton communities is the focus of my dissertation.

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Stacy Calhoun – PhD Student (January 2018 – Present)

MSc Marine & Environmental Biology, Nicholls State University – 2015
BS Marine Biology, College of Charleston – 2013

Marine biology has been a passion of mine since I was a child, growing up in Indiana.  Since then, I have graduated with a degree in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston and began my graduate career at Nicholls State University in the Master’s in Marine and Environmental Biology program.  There, I studied exoskeletal degradation during the molting cycle in blue crabs.  My main research interests include marine invertebrate ecology, physiology, and zoology.

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River Dixon – PhD Student (August 2018 – Present)

BS Marine Science, University of South Carolina – 2017

My passion for marine science is driven by the interdisciplinary nature of the field; I have always been captured by all the hard sciences, and marine science has been an avenue that doesn’t require me to necessarily pick just one.  As an undergraduate at the University of South Carolina, I gained valuable experience in answering ecological questions.  My undergraduate research mostly centered on estuarine benthic communities.  I worked on two independent projects and collaborated on two others.  I had the opportunity to participate in an REU, many summers of field work, and an oceanographic cruise.  These experiences gave me valuable lessons in answering ecological questions and working in science, and helped me to craft the kinds of questions I focus on in graduate school.

Energy is the basis of all life, and the driver of ecological processes and evolutionary changes through space and time. I am broadly interested in understanding how energy availability and environmental gradients influence variability in species richness and composition. This research is especially important given global climate change and the resultant threats of habitat loss or degradation and increasing energetic constraints. By its very nature, the deep sea embodies an excellent study environment for this research because of the natural energy constraints found there in the extreme cold and darkness.  Specifically, I use deep-sea wood fall and benthic sediment communities to address linkage between energy content and biodiversity. Through this work we can better understand the effects of climate change on responses and resiliency of marine diversity and energetics.

IMG_2600 Olivia Floyd – MSc Student (August 2020 – Present)

Graduate Student Alumni

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Christin Selle – Master’s Student (January 2018 – May 2020)

BS Biology, University of Wisconsin at Platteville – 2016

Christin received her BS in biology from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in May of 2015. Throughout her undergraduate career, she participated in a variety of research projects such as collecting data on Wisconsin bat populations, animal husbandry, and water quality with the Wisconsin DNR. However, her main research projects attempted to find a natural method to inhibit nuisance algae in freshwater lakes. This work inspired her interest in zooplankton, phytoplankton, and water quality.  She is particularly interested in invasive species and the effects of climate change on aquatic organisms. Christin’s Thesis was titled “Linking Spatiotemporal Variability among Phytoplankton, Microzooplankton and Mesozooplankton in a Shallow, Microtidal Estuary.” | PDF