Postdoctoral Researchers

Matthew Nicholson, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Miami (RSMAS)

Matt completed his Bachelor’s degree at Florida Gulf Coast University, his Master’s at the University of Exeter (UK), and his Doctorate at the University of Miami (RSMAS). He has worked on a variety of species including sharks, jellyfish, and seabirds and used various methods to look at many trophic interactions in marine environments and is applying those methods to look at how parasites fit in coral reef food webs.

Twitter: @sharkynichol

Instagram: @baldiewithagoatee

Anja Erasmus, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Researcher, North West University

PhD Students

Gina Hendrick

Ph.D. Student, University of Miami (RSMAS)

Dissertation: Identification of Caribbean gnathiid isopod fish hosts and factors affecting gnathiid growth and host immune response.

Gina completed her Master’s in Biology at Arkansas State University. For her thesis she developed molecular methods to identify fish hosts of gnathiid isopods from DNA within their blood meals, as well as determined the integrity of host DNA at various time intervals post-feeding. Her current research deals with host identification of Caribbean gnathiid isopods, effects of host species on gnathiid growth, and the immune response of gnathiid isopod fish hosts.

Gina’s ResearchGate Page

Instagram: @ZambeziG

Clayton Vondriska

Ph.D. Student, University of Miami (RSMAS)

Dissertation: Sensory morphology and ecology of fish-parasitic gnathiid isopods in coral reef systems.

Clayton received his Master’s in Biology at Arkansas State University working with the Sikkel Lab investigating the chemical ecology of parasitic gnathiid isopods in the Caribbean. Prior to that, Clayton received his Bachelor’s in Zoology from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. While there he researched the behavior of cleaner organisms and client reef fishes with Drs. Meg Daly and Ben Titus. Clayton also has worked with Amigos de las Tortugas Marinas in Puerto Rico conducting sea turtle surveys. His current research interests include studying the behavior and ecology of symbiotic relationships.

Clayton’s Website

Clayton’s Google Scholar

J. Andrés Pagán

Ph.D. Student, University of Porto

Cristiana I. Marques

Ph.D. Student, University of Porto

Dissertation: The colour of cooperation: Linking colour polymorphism to mutualistic behaviour in the Caribbean shaknose goby (Elacatinus evelynae)

Cristiana completed her Masters in Biodiversity, Genetics and Evolution at CIBIO-InBIO in 2017. For her thesis, she investigated the genetic mechanisms underlying plumage color variation in Gouldian finches by applying cutting-edge genomic tools. Although her main research sets on understanding the mechanisms leading to and shaping phenotypic diversity with especial interest on behavioral phenotypes and coloration, she’s been involved in other projects on bird ecology and behavior. Her research skills span different branches in science including bird ringing, behavioral experimentation, and NGS data analysis.

Cristiana’s ResearchGate

Cristiana’s CIBIO Page

Petro van Jaarsveld

Ph.D. Student, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Dissertation: Coral reef cleaning station dynamics in a tropical-temperate transition zone, Sodwana Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Petro is a aquatic ecologist with more than 15 years of progressive experience encompassing both the public and private sectors, specializing in Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), Rapid Biological Assessment (RBA), River Health Assessment (RHA), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), River EcoStatus Monitoring Programme (REMP) implementation and Instream Flow Requirement (IFR) determination. Petro also has 5 years of experience in marine ecology, fish and coral identification, and SCUBA instruction.

Petro’s LinkedIn

Master’s Students

Mary Shodipo

Master’s Student, Silliman University

Thesis: Evaluating the effect of fishing pressure and benthic habitat on fish parasitic gnathiid isopods in the Central Philippines.

Mary Shodipo is a National Geographic Explorer and published scientist pursuing a master’s in Marine Biology at Silliman University, in the Philippines. Mary had a very diverse background, spanning the social sciences, fine art and music. Mary decided to study marine biology after volunteering at the Thresher Shark Conservation and Research Project in the Philippines during the summer 2012. In 2014 she moved to the Philippines and began her scientific journey in earnest. Her passion in conservation and reef fish led her to be particularly interested in the effects of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on fish biodiversity and abundance. After volunteering as research assistant for a fellow student that was studying reef fish parasites, she learnt about their importance and influence in the ecosystem and that they are majorly understudied. Combining this with her interest in MPAs and reef fish, Mary is working on the first study to examine the combined effects of fishing pressure and coral cover on the most common external parasite of coral reef fishes, gnathiid isopods and will do so in the most biodiverse marine region in the world, the coral triangle.

Taylor Hobbs

Master’s Student, University of the Virgin Islands

Thesis: Interspecific variation and determinants of female spawning tactics among Caribbean Stegastes damselfish

Former Graduate Students and Postdocs

Amber McCammon, Arkansas State University, Ph.D.

Samantha Russell, Arkansas State University, M.Sc.

Anna Caroline Lee, Arkansas State University, M.A.

Amber Packard, University of the Virgin Islands, M.Sc.

Jan-Alexis Berry, University of the Virgin Islands, M.Sc.

John Artim, Arkansas State University, Ph.D.

Ann Marie Coile, Arkansas State University, M.Sc.

William Jenkins, Arkansas State University, M.Sc.

Lance Renoux, Arkansas State University, M.Sc.

Tina Rey Santos, Silliman University, M.Sc.

Joseph Sellers, University of the Virgin Islands, M.Sc.

Rachel Welicky, Arkansas State University, Ph.D.

Clair Spitzer, San Diego State University, M.Sc.