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Research


Bell

Susan Bell
Susan Bell’s research focuses on topics in marine ecology, especially landscape ecology of marine systems, restoration ecology and marine conservation. Many of her ongoing studies target questions related to ecosystem response to changing marine habitats. Her work focuses on seagrass habitats (quantifying large scale distribution and change) but includes investigations in other coastal areas including mangroves, salt marshes and sandy beaches. In addition, Susan collaborates with a group of researchers, mainly based at USF, that are working on issues linking urban ecology, watersheds and human dimensions.

Currently funded projects being conducted in Bell’s lab address:

  1. Using satellite imagery to assess seagrass habitats along the west coast of Florida
  2. Fish utilization of mangrove tidal creeks across the Tampa Bay watershed
  3. Food webs of sandy beaches across a gradient of anthropogenic impacts, including the 2010 oil spill
  4. Restoration of mangrove rimmed habitats
  5. Mangrove/salt marsh plant interactions along moving boundaries

Office: SCA 332/SCA 112
Phone: (813)974-6229 or (813)974-2542
E-mail: sbell@usf.edu

Faculty Profile

Publications


Ryan Carney

From Archaeopteryx to Zika, my research interests primarily involve dinosaurs and diseases. My work is fundamentally interdisciplinary and digital, fostered through a dual appointment at the Center for Virtualization & Applied Spatial Technologies (CVAST). Pedagogical activities include integrating research into educational tools and science outreach, and utilizing next-generation 3D platforms (virtual reality, interactive holograms).

Dinosaurs. My paleontology research focuses on bringing dinosaurs “back to life” by scientifically reconstructing skeletons, motion, and original coloration. Approaches combine exceptionally-preserved fossils and state-of-the-art technologies, from high-resolution X-ray imaging to Maya animation software. Generally, I’m interested in the structural and functional changes that occurred during major transitions. In particular, my research involves the evolution of flying dinosaurs, with an emphasis on the iconic “missing link,” Archaeopteryx. Other lines of investigation include joint functional morphology and evolutionary biomechanics, pursued through an integration of in vivo experiments, in silico modeling, and novel comparative approaches among living and extinct animals. My research also includes the emerging field of paleocolor: elucidating the original colors of fossilized feathers and skin, using new imaging and molecular techniques. Such results reveal not only what ancient creatures once looked like, they also provide insights into their evolutionary history and behavior.

Diseases. My epidemiology research focuses on the surveillance and control of mosquito-borne diseases, particularly the flaviviruses Zika, dengue, and West Nile. Given that there are no cures or vaccines available, prevention and mosquito abatement are the only solutions for containing outbreaks. With that goal, my work involves leveraging technologies like GIS and the DYCAST early warning system as powerful tools for fighting disease – frompredicting epidemics to the strategic targeting of control efforts.

Office: SCA 128
Phone: (813)974-6210
E-mail: ryancarney@usf.edu

Faculty Profile

Website


debanbw

Stephen Deban, Graduate Coordinator
Research in Stephen Deban's laboratory is aimed at understanding the biomechanical and physiological mechanisms of how animals move, and how these mechanisms change through evolution. Researchers in the lab integrate biomechanics and physiology to understand the function of animal movement and to uncover general design principles. Researchers also take an evolutionary approach in many of their projects, in addition to studies of proximate mechanisms, so that they can gain insight into how present form and function came to be. The ultimate goal is to formulate broad principles about how complex systems evolve in the face of changing and conflicting functional demands, which is a key pursuit of evolutionary biology. Researchers are currently studying amphibian and reptile feeding, and dog, lizard, amphibian and insect locomotion, among other projects.

Office: SCA 334
Phone: (813)974-2242
E-mail: sdeban@gmail.com

Faculty Profile

Publications

Website: Deban Lab Website


Fox

Bradford J. Gemmell
Bradford Gemmell's research is highly interdisciplinary and lies at the intersection of biology and physics. He is interested in the role of animal-fluid interactions in the marine environment and how these govern important biological factors such as predator-prey interactions as well as large-scale ecosystem processes and evolutionary relationships. His work includes a mechanistic approach to investigate how organisms function in fluid environments and extends to sublethal effects of environmental pollutants (e.g. oil spills). He specializes in the use of high speed imaging techniques such as particle image velocimetry (2D) and holographic cinematography (3D) to answer ecologically relevant questions regarding animal interactions with: fluid, predators, feeding, mating, migration, swimming and turbulence. Closely aligned with these studies of animal-fluid interactions is a general interest in the evolutionary arms race between predators and prey, convergent evolution in propulsive mechanisms and understanding biological propulsion for use in bio-inspired design.

Office: SCA 317
Phone: (813)974-1228
E-mail: bgemmell@usf.edu

Faculty Profile

Publications (ResearchGate)


harwood

Valerie (Jody) Harwood, Department Chair
Valerie J. Harwood leads an environmental microbiology laboratory with research that focuses on the intersection of microbial ecology and public health microbiology. Pollution of water with fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) and associated pathogens has serious economic and public health consequences, but pollution sources are difficult to determine and many questions exist about the relationships among FIB, pathogenic microorganisms, and the public health implications of various sources of fecal pollution in recreational waters. Much of the lab’s research is directed toward identifying and utilizing genes from microorganisms that are specific to a particular host (e.g. cow, horse, dog, poultry, human) and identify the source(s) of fecal pollution in environmental waters. This field, generally termed microbial source tracking (MST), is a rapidly-growing sub-discipline of environmental microbiology.

The research efforts on fecal source identification naturally lead to questions about the ecology of the microorganisms used in MST. For example, what is their fate when they pass from a host to a water body, and how does that fate compare to that of conventional FIB such as enterococci and E. coli, and to the fate of waterborne pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7 and enteric viruses? This lab believes that a better understanding of these relationships, and correlation of these parameters with human health effects in epidemiology studies will provide better public health protection and a rational approach to environmental water quality monitoring compared to reliance on FIB alone. A second focus of research in the laboratory is the ecology and virulence potential of Vibrio vulnificus, a human pathogen that is native to and ubiquitous in Gulf of Mexico waters, and can be transmitted to humans via wound infections or consumption of raw shellfish.

Office: BSF 131
Phone: (813)974-1524
E-mail: vharwood@usf.edu

Faculty Profile

Publications

Website: http://theharwoodlab.wix.com/usf-tampa


Drew Kramer

Andrew Kramer

I am interested in the ecology of population extinction, species invasions and species coexistence. Dynamics leading to the alternatives of persistence and extinction influence applied ecological problems from conservation of threatened species to rapid spatial spread of invasive species and emerging diseases. My research addresses several questions including:

  1. What are the mechanisms driving dynamics of small populations, and how do they influence the opposing outcomes of extinction and invasion?
  2. How can predictions of invasion and spatial spread help reduce impacts of invasive species and emerging diseases?

I link theory with empirical data to produce general insights and work across scales from the microscopic to continental. I develop dynamical models and conduct laboratory, mesocosm and whole-lake experiments with crustacean zooplankton to better understand the dynamics of small populations and species coexistence. My research also aims to make effective use of increasingly powerful computational tools, and I use machine learning tools and network approaches to develop predictive models for the spread of aquatic invasive species and emerging infectious diseases.

Faculty Profile

Publications

Website: https://kramera3.github.io/


Marc Lajeunesse

Marc Lajeunesse
The overarching goal of Marc Lajeunesse’s lab is to understand the natural diversity of parasites and herbivores, and the forces creating and sustaining this diversity--in particular, his lab focus is on using available data to isolate which ecological or evolutionary concepts are applicable over a wide variety of contexts.

Marc uses a broad variety of techniques to pursue this goal; including meta-analysis, comparative phylogenetic methods, field and selection experiments and mathematical modeling. A variety of model systems also are explored: herbivorous insects and mites, plant anti-herbivore defenses, avian brood parasites (e.g., cowbirds and cuckoos) and ectoparasites of dragonflies.

Currently, the lab’s research has two major themes: (1) the development of novel statistics for synthesizing published research and evaluating sources of bias in this research; and (2) providing quantitative syntheses of key ecological and evolutionary principles on host specialization of parasites and herbivores.

Office: SCA 306
Phone: (813)974-6234
E-mail: lajeunesse@usf.edu

Faculty Profile

Publications

Website: http://lajeunesse.myweb.usf.edu/


Lewis

David B. Lewis
David Lewis’ lab investigates pattern and process in ecosystems, from distinct landscape elements to the regional matrix in which they are set. Researchers in this lab focus on soil and water element cycles (mainly carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus), and how they are related to ecological communities, land use, and hydrology. At present, the Lewis lab is investigating intermittently flooded freshwater wetlands and intertidal coastal systems, habitats that highlight the dynamic land-water interface. Researchers strive to address basic ecological questions that lie at the heart of applied problems, such as water management in urban environments, and nutrient retention in sensitive coastal habitats. Along with other ecologists, the lab’s collaborators in these efforts include hydrogeologists, remote sensing experts, social scientists and natural resource managers.

Office: SCA 328
Phone: (813)974-8108
E-mail: davidlewis@usf.edu

Faculty Profile

Publications

Website: http://lewislab.org


McCoy

Earl McCoy, Associate Chair
Earl McCoy's research interests include conservation ecology, disturbance ecology, biogeographical theory and the philosophical basis of ecology. His recent work has focused on conservation and restoration of severely threatened sand hill and Florida scrub habitats; population biology and genetics of gopher and desert tortoises, Florida sand skink, and Florida scrub lizard; and introductions of biological control agents.

Office: SCA 314
Phone: (813)974-5219
E-mail: earlmccoy@usf.edu

Faculty Profile


Prevost

Luanna Prevost
Luanna Prevost's research focuses on the development and use of formative written assessments in undergraduate biology education. Writing is an everyday practice in science. However, it can be difficulty to incorporate into classroom practice because of the time required to assess the writing and provide students with feedback. The Prevost lab investigates how text analysis and machine learning tools can be used to analyze student writing about biology concepts. These approaches are being used to understand how students connect ideas in biology and identify student misunderstandings. Additionally, researchers in the lab work with faculty to support the use of written assessments in large enrollment courses. Instructors receive feedback on student written assessments and participate in faculty learning communities. Current projects are focused on student writing in the areas of ecology, physiology, plant biology and genetics.

Office: SCA 318
Phone: (813)974-7836
E-mail: prevost@usf.edu

Faculty Profile

Website: http://www.prevostlab.org/


Richards

Christina L. Richards
Christina Richards' research interests incorporate genomics tools and approaches into robust ecological experiments, which will be a critical component of understanding how organisms respond to the ecological and evolutionary challenges of human alteration of the global environment. The rapidly escalating amount of genomic tools developed for model systems grown in controlled conditions can be used to examine the mechanisms of phenotypic response in a broad array of wild organisms and biologically relevant conditions. Also, several epigenetic mechanisms have dramatic effects on phenotype, even in the absence of changes in genotype, and there is increasing evidence that epigenetic processes are an important component of hybridization events and response to stressful environments.

Hybridization and exposure to stressful conditions have been important in the evolutionary history of many plant species and especially in more recent, human mediated plant invasions. Therefore, investigating epigenetic effects in the lab's experimental studies could significantly improve the understanding of the mechanisms underlying phenotypic variation and the translation from genotype to phenotype. Placing genomics and systems biology within a classic ecological genetics framework allows us to investigate these components of plant response to natural and human altered environments.

Current and future research in her laboratory include studies of: 1) ecological genetics and genomics in coastal salt marsh plants to address ecological interactions and response to climate change; 2) how epigenetic effects contribute to phenotypic variation and ecological breadth in native and invasive plants; 3) experimental evolution of epigenetic effects in Arabidopsis 4) phenotypic plasticity in natural and agricultural systems in changing environments.

Office: SCA 127
Phone: (813)974-5090
E-mail: clr@usf.edu

Faculty Profile

Publications

Website: http://web.me.com/christinalrichards/Portfolio/Home.html


Rohr

Jason R. Rohr
The research interests of the Rohr lab often fall at the interface of ecotoxicology, conservation biology, climate science, and community, population, behavioral, and disease ecology. The lab is particularly interested in how anthropogenic changes, mainly pollution and climate change, affect wildlife populations, species interactions, and the spread of disease. These effects are undoubtedly complex and dependent upon biotic and abiotic conditions. Consequently, the lab and associated collaborators have studied interactions among multiple natural and anthropogenic stressors and are making efforts to integrate its research across disciplines.

The lab's goal is to understand, and develop solutions to, environmental problems to enhance the likelihood of a sustainable existence for both humans and wildlife. Much of Jason's research has focused on amphibians because they are declining globally. However, the Rohr lab has worked with a diversity of taxa and tries to be more motivated by interesting questions, syntheses, and the quest for generalities in ecology and conservation than taxa-specific pursuits.

When possible, the lab's work integrates laboratory experiments, mesocosm studies, field experiments, field surveys and mathematical models to enhance the researchers' understanding of natural systems. Most recently,the lab has been exploring the relationship between amphibian chytrid fungal infections and both climate change and pollution, interactions between agrochemicals and trematode infections of amphibians and humans, the effects of chemical contaminants on freshwater communities and ecosystems, and generalities associated with the interactions among disease, climate and pollution.

Office: SCA 309
Phone: (813)974-3263
E-mail: rohr@usf.edu

Faculty Profile

Publications

Website: http://shell.cas.usf.edu/rohrlab/


Scott

Kathleen (K.T.) Scott
Kathleen Scott is a microbial physiologist and very interested in the global carbon cycle. KT's research focuses on uptake and fixation of carbon dioxide and bicarbonate by microorganisms. She studies chemolithoautotrophic bacteria, which form the base of the food web at deep-sea hydrothermal vents, and can act as little 'carbon dioxide vacuums.' She also studies marine algae, which are responsible for approximately half of the carbon fixation on the planet. To study these organisms and processes, KT and her researchers use techniques ranging from bioinformatics to molecular manipulations to stable isotope measurements to whole-cell physiology, while considering the organisms' activities in situ.

Office: BSF 132
Phone: (813)974-5173
E-mail: kmscott@usf.edu

Faculty Profile

Website: http://uweb.cas.usf.edu/~kmscott/


Stiling 2

Peter Stiling, Special Faculty Assistant in the Office of the Provost
Peter Stiling received his Ph.D. from University College, Cardiff, Wales, in 1979. Subsequently, he became a postdoc at Florida State University and later spent two years as a lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad. Peter is currently a professor of biology at the University of South Florida. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in ecology, biology and environmental science. He has published more than 100 scientific papers and is the author of Ecology: Theories and Applications, fourth edition. Peter's research interests include plant-insect relationships, parasite-host relationships, biological control, restoration ecology, global change and the effects of elevated carbon dioxide levels on native communities. His research group at the University of South Florida is involved in a variety of ecological investigations which focus on pure and applied ecology projects. The common theme which links each of these projects is plant-animal interactions.

Office: SCA 331
Phone: (813)974-3754
E-mail: pstiling@usf.edu

Faculty Profile

Publications

Website: http://www.cas.usf.edu/~pstiling/index.html