Principal Investigator      

Dr. Antonietta Quigg
Regents Professor
Senior Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies
Phone: +1 (409) 740-4990
Fax: +1 (409) 740.5002

Biography of Dr. Antonietta Quigg

Phytoplankton ecophysiology, physiological adaptation, photosynthesis, biological oceanography, biochemistry and biophysics, molecular biology, plant physiology, evolution (look around the website for more specific information).

Teaching Philosophy:

Teaching remains both one of my greatest challenges and one of the most rewarding aspects of my position. I endeavor to inspire students with my enthusiasm for the subject matter, foster critical-thinking and decision-making abilities with examples and innovative testing approaches as well as encourage students to become active and competent learners outside the classroom. At a campus dedicated to marine studies, undergraduates arrive eager to learn about marine mammals and fisheries science, but rarely consider the role of phytoplankton and marine plants (seaweeds, seagrasses, marshes) as the base of food webs. Teaching Marine Botany, a core course taken predominately by juniors and seniors, is my chance to bring them towards the “light”. By blending traditional and contemporary topics (e.g. eutrophication, climate change, invasive species) I provide students with tangible examples from their daily lives. This is often when the light bulbs are triggered, and I will pause lecturing to talk/debate/stimulate students along a line that has clearly caught at least some of their attention. Part of my philosophy is to also lead by example: hard work, dedication and persistence in performing of research and presentations, participation and publication, as key for success in science. The other part is participation: my students and I have a strong bond forged from many days at sea (>100), as well as time in the field and laboratory. I have had >40 undergraduates work in the laboratory, 14 graduate students and 5 postdoctoral fellows. One of the advantages to being on a small campus is that teaching-related activities are indeed not limited to the classroom, but occurs in the hallways, offices and open spaces around campus.

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Research Scientists      

Dr. Jamie Steichen
Instructional Assistant Professor in Marine Biology
Phone: (409) 740.4764


My research interests primarily focus on phytoplankton ecology in Galveston Bay. We have been working together to determine how the phytoplankton community changes in response to variations in the flow of freshwater into Galveston Bay. We recently published a paper in Frontiers in Marine Science, pertaining to the response of the microbial community in Galveston Bay following the extreme flooding event that was produced by Hurricane Harvey.  Another aspect of phytoplankton research I am involved with includes using an Imaging FlowCytobot to monitor for harmful algal blooms in Galveston Bay. We work in conjunction with Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Department of Health and Safety to monitor for harmful species of phytoplankton that can produce toxins which can accumulate in finfish and shellfish which if consumed by can have deleterious effects on human health.

I also teach the Succeeding in Science course (MARB101) which is an introductory course in the Marine Biology department to familiarize students with the fields of Marine Biology and Marine Science. In this course, we discuss various career options in these marine fields as well as learn some basic sampling techniques commonly used in these disciplines. To learn more you can visit the TAMUG – Sea Camp YouTube channel to watch some of our class activities including: bag seining, a trip around Pelican Island on the R/V Earl Milan, water quality testing and more.

 To learn more about some of the phytoplankton in Galveston Bay please visit the following links:

Galveston Bay Foundation: Talk with a Bay Biologist – Plankton Virtual Field Trip

Succeeding in Science – Water Quality Testing: Phytoplankton

Manoj Kamalanathan
Assistant Research Scientist
Phone: (409) 741.7168


I am currently working as Assistant Research Scientist in Dr. Quigg’s lab. I did my Ph.D. with Prof. John Beardall’s lab in Monash University, Australia. Since 2012, I have specialized in exploring the industrial (biofuels and astaxanthin production), ecological (phytoplankton-bacteria interaction), and toxicological (oil spills and and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) aspects of phytoplankton using a creative approach of utilizing a mix of lab and field studies. My research expertise includes phytoplankton physiology, biochemistry, ecology, and toxicology.

To learn more, check out my Manoj Kamalanathan's Google Scholar page.

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Graduate Students      

Alexandra Prouse
Ph.D. Student


 Hi! I graduated with my B.S. in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston in May 2020.  I am currently a Ph.D. student co-advised by Dr. Quigg and Dr. Rooker in the Marine Biology IDP. My research interests include ecosystem-level interactions, stable isotope analysis, and integrating these two subjects to ask questions about an evolving environment due to climate change. I hope to design my dissertation to look at isotope fractionation and transfer through several trophic levels in the context of rising sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification and applying Compound Specific Stable Isotope Analysis of Amino Acids for analysis.

Jessica Hillhouse
Master's Student


Hi! For my thesis project I will be investigating the physiological responses of coastal phytoplankton species when exposed to brine effluent released from desalination plants. Desalination plants help to supplement fresh water where traditional resources can no longer sustain a population or a region. They work by turning salt water into fresh water through reverse osmosis and they typically release a concentrated brine solution back in to the coastal environment. I am particularly interested to see if changes in water quality caused by the brine effluent affect the coastal phytoplankton community composition and Transparent exopolymeric particle production. As part of my project, I will be travelling to Haifa, Israel through the LOREX program. This opportunity will allow me conduct my research in an area where desalination plants are prevalent and necessary.  My goals are to gain a better understanding of how phytoplankton communities are affected by desalination plants, and to contribute to a relatively sparse body of knowledge that will become more important as the need for desalination plants increases due to climate change and population growth. 

Rayna Nolen
Ph.D. Student


I graduated from Colorado College in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology (organisms, evolution and ecology track). I am currently a PhD student working on quantifying persistent man-made chemical pollutants, specifically PFAS compounds, in water and biota from Galveston Bay following the Deer Park ITC Fire. As a part of this work, I will also use bioinformatics to attempt biomarker discovery and to create models that will aid in further understanding an organisms adaptive potential under stressful environmental conditions. My other projects include PAH and PCB detection in fish, water and sediment samples, along with Dioxin analysis in dolphin blubber.

Sarah Davis
Ph.D. Student


Hello! I received a B.S. in Marine Science and Biochemistry at Coastal Carolina University, before joining the Phytoplankton Dynamics Lab in 2020. My research interests are based in toxicology, ecology, and climate change, specifically pertaining to phytoplankton and lower trophic levels. My current project will be working to assess how perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFASs) impact phytoplankton growth and composition. These chemicals have been used ubiquitously by humans and are now found in environments around the world. PFASs can be toxic, bioaccumulate, and persist in the environment, so it is important to understand their impact on ecosystems.

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Undergraduate Students      

Jake Ballard
Undergraduate student


I am an undergraduate marine biology student that is passionate about exploring my curiosities of the natural world. I am using phytoplankton as a means of exploring the ecological impact of effluent on marine ecosystems. I am also in the process of trying to understand the genotypic and phenotypic impact of oil on phytoplankton. Additionally, I work in the lab running daily IFCB and chlorophyll samples and any other additional tasks that have been assigned. Fundamentally my interest lies in biophysics which is a discipline concerned with the exploration of biological phenomena using the language of physics. I hope to attend graduate school and become a professor at a university. I like to spend most of my time thinking about challenging topics in the spirit of seeking truth.  

James Glaze
Undergraduate Student


I am a sophomore currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in both Marine Biology and Marine Fisheries. One of my many different interests in Marine Biology has always been phytoplankton communities and how these organisms shape the environment around them. This interest has led me to want to work in the Phytoplankton Dynamics Lab. Currently as a volunteer, my job entails working on the Imaging FlowCytobot project by identifying different phytoplankton in the Gulf of Mexico and collecting chlorophyll from those samples.

Nalu Martin

I am a Junior pursuing an undergraduate degree in Marine Biology. Although my personal research interest lies with marine mammals, at my core I want to be a scientist. My passion for science directed me to helping a fellow undergraduate with their research in the Phytoplankton Dynamics lab and now I want to get more involved in the lab myself. I will be working on the Imaging FlowCytobot. I hope to gain valuable lab experience during my time in the lab and to explore a field of marine biology that I never saw myself in before arriving at TAMUG.

Nathan Hagan Klobusnik
Undergraduate Student

I am a junior marine biology major minoring in chemistry. My current interest in ecology and microorganisms has lead me to volunteer in Dr. Quigg’s lab where I assist researcher Manoj Kamalanathan in the development of a microbially induced calcium carbonate precipitation process for the purpose of making reef structures out of local sand. As a volunteer, I have had the opportunity to work with multiple researchers and am currently learning how research is planned and done in an effort to prepare for graduate school.

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Research Staff      

Jessica Hillhouse
Lab Manager & Research Associate
Phone: 409-741-7168


Yes, it's me again! I currently have a few different roles in the lab. I started working in a phytoplankton physiology lab after I received my Bachelor’s degree in 2015. Most of the research I have been involved in up until this point has focused on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 and the effects it had on the microbial community.  As a research Associate, I am helping with a Texas General Land Office funded project aimed at studying the effects of perfluorinated alkylated substances on phytoplankton in Galveston Bay. As the Lab manager, I am responsible for maintaining lab equipment, keeping the lab stocked with supplies, and helping the other lab members with anything from logistics to data analysis. I have also recently decided to go back to school part time working towards my master’s degree in Marine Biology- see my profile above for more details on that project!

Noah Claflin
Research Assistant
Phone: (409) 741 7168


I graduated from Texas A&M University at Galveston in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in marine biology and a minor in diving technology and methods. In 2018 I completed an undergraduate research project looking at the changes in phytoplankton biomass and community composition following flooding events in Galveston Bay caused by Hurricane Harvey. As a research assistant I manage the undergraduate student volunteers and employees, as well as the operation of the phytoplankton dynamics lab’s Imaging FlowCytobot which, through funding by TPWD, photographs the daily phytoplankton community present in the Galveston shipping channel. I also maintain monocultures of phytoplankton species used in lab experiments and assist with any ongoing research projects, including the Texas General Land Office (TGLO) project looking at the effect of PFAS on phytoplankton communities.

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Grad Students

Jennifer Genzer

M.S. in Marine Biology, 2019

Thesis title: "Potential Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Diatom Aggregation When Exposed to Crude Oil and Chemical Dispersants"

Samantha Setta

M.S. in Marine Biology, 2018

Thesis title: "The Interaction Between Phytoplankton and Bacteria in Response to Oil and Dispersant; Implications for Microbial Mutualism and Carbon Cycling"

Hannah Preischel

M.S. in Biological Oceanography, 2017

Thesis title: "Effects of Physical Disturbance on Phytoplankton Diversity and Community Composition in Galveston Bay, TX, during an Extreme Flooding Event"

Allyson Burgess

M.S. in Biological Oceanography, 2017

Thesis title: "Phytoplankton Dynamics in Galveston Bay: Assessing Responses to Freshwater Inflows"

Rachel Windham

M.S. in Marine Resource Management, 2015

Thesis title: "Rangia as Potential Indicators of Bay Health"

Alicia Shepard

Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography, 2015

Dissertation title: "Responses of Heterotrophic and Autotrophic Pico- and Nano-Plankton to Nutrient Availability and Enrichment across Marine Systems in the Northern Gulf of Mexico"

Zhao Yan

Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography, 2014

Dissertation title: "Phytoplankton Dynamics in the Northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM): Field and Laboratory Experiments"

Katherine (Nicki) Laverty

M.S. in Marine Resource Management, 2014 (non-thesis)

Legacy: OCD and green thumbs!

Tyra Booe

M.S. in Marine Resource Management, 2014 (non-thesis)

Legacy: Left the biggest shows to fill!

Allison McInnes

Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography, 2014

Dissertation title: "Estimation and Fate of New Production in the Marine Environment"

Matthew Gore

M.S. in Marine Biology, 2013

Thesis title: "Growth Rate of Marine Microalgal Species using Sodium Bicarbonate for Biofuels"

Jamie Steichen

Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography, 2013

Dissertation title: "Ecosystem under Pressure: Examining the Phytoplankton Community in the High Ballast Water Discharge Environment of Galveston Bay, Texas (USA)"

Samuel Dorado

M.S. in Marine Biology, 2011

Thesis title: "Coastal and Marine Nitrogen Sources Shift Isotopic Baselines in Pelagic Food Webs of the Gulf of Mexico"

Leslie Rulon

M.S. in Marine Resource Management, 2010

Thesis title: "Effects of Nutrient Additions on Three Coastal Salt Marsh Plants Found in Sunset Cove, Texas"

Elizabeth Neyland

M.S. in Biology, 2009

Thesis title: "Bacteria in Ballast Water: The Shipping Industry's Contributions to the Transport and Distribution of Microbial Species in Texas"

Amanda Thronson

M.S. in Biology, 2008

Thesis title: "Effect of variation in freshwater inflow on phytoplankton productivity and community composition in galveston bay, texas"

Linda Roehrborn

M.S. in Biological Oceanography, 2006

Thesis title: "Seasonal analysis of abiotic factors impacting phytoplankton assemblages in Offatts Bayou, Galveston, Texas"

Dr. Laura Bretherton 2016-2018

Now Post –doctoral fellow, Dalhousie University, Canada

Laura Bretherton's Google Scholar

Dr. Hernando Bacosa 2017-2019

Now Environmental Science Program at Mindanao State University - Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT)

Hernando Bacosa's Google Scholar

Dr. Angela Capper 2008-2009

Now Lecturer, James Cook University, Australia

Angela Capper's Google Scholar

Dr. Miao Aijin *Co-advised with Peter Santschi (MCES) 2006-2009

Now Associate Professor, Nanjing University, China

Miao Aijin's Google Scholar


Kendra Dean

Now Adjunct Faculty, University of Minnesota

Legacy: Advocate for educational outreach

Amelia McAmis

Now Account Manager for Chemsearch FE

Legacy: Machine Whisperer, Phyto Identification Queen

Jola (Agaj) Brown

Now Synthetic Genomics

Legacy: Chemist, Making biofuels

Louis Brown

Now Director of Phototrophic Production, ‎Synthetic Genomics

Legacy: Visionary from bottle to outdoor ponds, Making biofuels

Federico Alvarez

Now Fugro, Houston

Legacy: Stowaway! Participated in over 100 days of research cruises in the Gulf of Mexico as an undergraduate and graduate student

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