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Research

With ten dedicated research labs run by top professors who are always on the cusp of exciting discoveries, the Department of Marine Biology boasts incredible research opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as post-doctoral researchers.

Coastal & Wetland Ecology Lab    

Dr. Anna Armitage

In this lab, we examine the community-level interactions and processes that structure coastal ecosystems. Our work spans many coastal habitats, including salt marshes, mangroves, tidal mudflats, seagrass beds, and tidal freshwater wetlands. We are particularly interested in changes in trophic interactions following habitat restoration, nutrient enrichment, or other anthropogenic alterations.  Our ultimate goal is to incorporate our understanding of coastal ecosystem dynamics and processes into the management of restored and anthropogenically impacted habitats.

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Marine Evolutionary Genetics & Biodiversity Lab    

Dr. Ron Eytan

Our focus is the origin and maintenance of marine biodiversity, particularly in coral reef fishes. At this point the lab's primary focus is on the diverse group of fishes called blennies, as these fishes are a fantastic model system to address a host of different evolutionary and ecological questions. Our lab aims to understand this diversity at multiple levels of biological organization, ranging from molecular evolution at the level of the genome, population genetics at regional spatial scales, cryptic speciation and local endemism, to higher level molecular phylogenetics and systematics.

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Cave Biology Lab    

Dr. Thomas Iliffe

This lab is run by Dr. Tom Iliffe, a world-renowned marine biologist and cave diver who has discovered hundreds of species living in coastal and tidal caves. With regular expeditions to Bermuda, Belize, and Mexico, Dr. Iliffe continues to push the field of biospeleology forward. The lab itself focuses on advancing the knowledge and understand of blue holes, tidal caves, coastal caves, and their relation to other ecosystems.

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Ecomorphology & Comparative Physiology Lab    

Dr. Christopher Marshall

This lab is focused on the integration of morphology, physiology and behavioral performance studies of vertebrates to understand organismal adaptations to the environment. Such studies integrate several research tools including classic animal dissections, histocytochemistry, immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, kinematics & motion analysis, electromyography, and other electrophysiological techniques.

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Miglietta Lab    

Dr. Maria Pia Miglietta

Research in the Miglietta Lab focuses on Evolution, Genetics, and Ecology of Hydrozoa (Cnidaria). Current projects include: Genomics of the "immortal jellyfish" Turritopsis dohrnii, Jellyfish blooms in the Gulf of Mexico, Invasive species, and Evolution, Taxonomy, and Systematics of Hydrozoa.

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Phytoplankton Dynamics Lab    

Dr. Antonietta Quigg

The lab’s research is focused on phytoplankton as model organisms to address questions related to water, climate and energy. We use quantitative and experimental approaches to elucidate the importance of biotic and abiotic factors influencing phytoplankton dynamics (community composition, physiology, ecology) in both field and laboratory-settings. It is collaborative, multidisciplinary and international. Our research paradigm is to continuously generate new ideas and new collaborations and alliances, which is needed to do well in the 21st century. In this way, the research we perform in the lab is capacity building for a new generation.

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Fisheries Ecology Lab    

Dr. Jay Rooker

Our lab’s research centers on the community and population ecology of aquatic organisms, with a special emphasis on marine fishes. We are particularly interested in linkages between habitat selection, individual responses, and survival. The work is both laboratory and field-based, and we typically use both quantitative and experimental approaches to elucidate the importance of biotic and abiotic factors that influence growth, condition, and survival. In addition, we are currently using a variety of natural markers to solve ecological problems.

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Marine Invertebrate Lab    

Dr. Anja Schulze

Our lab is interested in phylogeny, species delimitation and geographic population structuring of marine invertebrates, focusing on marine annelids. Our approaches include morphological, reproductive and developmental studies, genomics and transcriptomics.  We use molecular and morphological tools to examine the evolution and diversity of these animals and seek answers to questions like how are different species related to each other?  How did one body plan evolve from another?  How do the animals reproduce, develop and disperse to distant geographic locations?  How are they adapted to their respective habitats?

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Seafood Safety Lab    

Dr. John Schwarz

Since 1989, the SSL has monitored the levels of Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus in Galveston Bay oysters throughout the year. This data is provided to the Texas Department of State Health services, so that they may temporarily restrict oyster harvesting from areas of the Bay that may have high bacterial counts, in order to reduce potential Vibrio infections in oyster consumers. The SSL is also FDA-certified for the examination of seawater, to determine the levels of coliforms in coastal waters. We are able to determine the levels of coliforms, E. coli, and Enterococcus spp. in non-potable waters in the Houston area and in tributary waters of Galveston Bay.

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Shark Biology & Fisheries Science Lab    

Dr. R.J. David Wells

Research in the Shark Biology and Fisheries Science lab is centered on obtaining a better understanding of the biology and ecology of sharks and bony fishes throughout marine ecosystems. The diversity of marine habitats currently studied includes an offshore to inshore continuum ranging from offshore open ocean systems, continental shelves, nearshore reefs, to estuarine seascapes. Current research themes focus on habitat use, movement dynamics, trophic ecology, life history information, and anthropogenic impacts to fishery resources. The ultimate goal of the applied research is to provide the necessary information to aid in the conservation and sustainability of these valuable resources.

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Marine Mammal Behavioral Ecology Lab    

Dr. Bernd Wursig

We study aspects of marine mammal behavior, with a particular focus on the animals' habitats, especially food availability patterns, where to engage in mating and calving with minimal threats of predation, and human impacts. Most of our work has centered around dolphins and whales that occur rather close to shore, such as Amazon river, bottlenose, Hawaiian spinner, humpback, and dusky dolphins, as well as bowhead and gray whales. Our work tends to use "bread and butter" non-invasive research techniques of focal animal sampling with binoculars, spotting scopes and theodolite tracking from shore; and line transects, photographic identification, and hydrophone recordings from boats. However, we have also used skin swabbing and other sampling of tissue for genetic work; radio tracking; and assessment of dive and prey acquisition patterns by low-intensity active sonar.

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Viral Ecology Lab    

Dr. Jessica Labonté

The viral ecology laboratory focuses on the role of viruses in aquatic environments through the characterization of their relationships with their hosts. Through the use of laboratory cultures, molecular biology techniques, and bioinformatics we aim to: describe and interpret spatial and temporal diversity of viruses and microbes, characterize phage–host interactions in environmental systems to define the role of viral lysis in the microbial loop, and understand the mechanisms of evolution of viruses and bacteria in the environment.

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Sea Life Facility    

Katie St. Clair

The Sea Life Facility (SLF) at Texas A&M University Galveston Campus provides an experimental research laboratory infrastructure for TAMUG scientists, researchers, and both graduate and undergraduate students to conduct in vivo studies of marine life. Through collaborations with the Department of Marine Biology and volunteer opportunities, the SLF enables undergraduate students to receive hands-on training for mariculture systems and practices. The SLF Outreach Center aims to engage the TAMUG community and general public via educational displays and guided tours about research conducted in the SLF and marine life in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.

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Want to Get Involved?    

For undergraduates there is also the opportunity of the Undergraduate Research Scholarship program (UGRS), which allows students to pursue a research project under the tutelage of a professor whilst writing a thesis.

For more information about UGRS, please visit the following:
http://www.tamug.edu/research/UG%20Research/UnderGradScholars.html

For all other research inquiries, please visit:
http://www.tamug.edu/research/