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Meet Our Students



Jason Richardson

Jason Richardson
Integrative Biology Graduate

Having been around exotic animals all of his life, Jason Richardson grew up with a natural fascination and love of wildlife. This environment steered him into his interest in the study of integrative biology, and animal species rather than cell biology. Jason’s father collected exotic animals, and Jason said that “It was only natural that I decided to take the next step and make a career out of studying them professionally”. After completing high school, he decided on enrolling in the University of South Florida as a logical step to pursuing his career. He said that he liked USF’s faculty and the size of the school, and the location of USF was ideal for him. Jason’s research mentors are Dr. Stephen Deban and Dr. Marc Lajeunesse, who, he said, are “vital in helping me gain research experience to help prove that biological research is something I would enjoy doing for the rest of my life”. Jason is working with Dr. Deban investigating thermal independence (or lack thereof) in tongue projection in various salamanders, and with Dr. Lajeunesse in studying parasites and morphological adaptations of invasive brown anoles in Florida. Jason entered Graduate school in Integrative Biology, in the doctoral program, and hopes to pursue a career outside academia, doing research. Dr. Peter Stiling is his faculty advisor. In order to have a balance in his life, Jason enjoys Busch Gardens, 5 minutes away from USF. He also enjoys swing dancing, and his lifelong hobby of raising and breeding reptiles.





RYAN MCKENZIE

Ryan McKenzie
Integrative Biology Graduate

Ryan McKensie's interest in Biology started when he was very young. He spent most of his time outdoors fishing and exploring his backyard. "After reading Eugenie Clark's Shark Lady book in fifth grade, I knew I wanted to become a scientist studying the natural world." "Growing up in South Florida has been immensely beneficial to my biological interest. I grew up along the shores of the Indian River Lagoon, which is one of the most bio-diverse estuaries in North America. I have also visited Hawaii and completed an internship on Bimini Island in the Bahamas. Both experiences showed me how more animal species there are to learn about in the world." "USF was a great choice for me because it offered a great selection of courses and an awesome staff that inspire their students. Being in close proximity to Tampa Bay and other ecologically important resources that I could explore in my free time was also a big bonus." At USF, Ryan completed his bachelor's degree in Biology. He primarily focused on classes dealing with ecology and marine biology, and worked on an undergraduate research project with Dr. Philip Motta.
"My undergraduate experience at USF was really informative and helped guide me through the process of getting on the right career track. I completed my Bachelors of Biological Science in the fall of 2011. Currently, I am working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife as a temporary field biologist, working on a Black Bass research project. I also have been accepted into a Master's degree program at Florida State University which I will be attending in the fall of 2014. My education and training has really helped in all the different jobs and internships I have completed since graduating. My education has really equipped me with the tools to understand the biological topics that I deal with at my current position and it has also taught me to ask right questions when I don't understand something." Ryan plans on pursuing a career with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) or the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the fisheries service in order to protect and sustain global fish stocks.