Principal Investigator      

Photo of Dr. Antonietta Quigg

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      

Photo of Dr. Jamie Steichen

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

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Graduate Students      

Photo of Alexandra Prouse

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.

Photo of Rayna Nolen

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.

Photo of Sarah Davis

Sarah Davis
Ph.D. Student
Phone: LinkedIn: sarahncdavis


Hello! Prior to joining the Phytoplankton Dynamics Lab in August 2020, I received a B.S. in Marine Science and Biochemistry at Coastal Carolina University. My current research interests include understanding how emerging pollutants (EPs) impact aquatic ecosystems, specifically regarding their presence and levels in vulnerable systems, determining their impact on primary productivity, and understanding human perception of emerging pollutants. My current project works to identify how EPs impact primary producers by assessing how the emergent pollutant class, perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFASs), impacts phytoplankton physiology and microbial community composition. PFASs have been used ubiquitously by humans and are now found in environments around the world. PFASs can be toxic, bioaccumulate, and are persistent, so it's important to determine their impact on aquatic primary producers which fuel the rest of the aquatic environment.

Photo of Alyssa Antolak

Alyssa Antolak
Ph.D. Student

Hi there! I graduated with my B.S. in Marine Science from Coastal Carolina University in May of 2023. I am currently a PhD student working on quantifying the impacts zooplankton and bacteria interactions have on particulate organic carbon size, sinking velocity, and carbon content. As part of this project, I will set up roller tank and mesocosm experiments to determine particle flux of diatom and copepod fecal pellet aggregations under bacterial and zooplankton treatments. Mesocosm experiments will further attempt to use 16S and 18S rRNA sequencing to determine microbial composition within marine snow aggregations. As well as assessing particulate and dissolved organic carbon and TEP content. Establishing how biological interactions with marine snow impact particle attenuation is important to better understand the global biological carbon pump.

Photo of Aurora Gaona Hernández

Aurora Gaona Hernández
Ph.D. Student

Hi! I'm a biologist originally from Mexico City and with a B.S. from UNAM. The last 5 years I lived in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico where I received a M.S. in Marine Ecology from CICESE, and worked for the Gulf of Mexico Research Consortium (CIGOM). I have experience working with marine zooplankton, programming and statistical analysis. I have joined Texas A&M University at Galveston as of Spring 2021 to do my PhD in Marine Biology. My project will be focused on oyster disease ecology and its implications for soft tissue production and shell integrity. I will  also perform an historical analysis of an oyster parasite of international concern and its links with water quality and ongoing climate change. I would like to address my future research in the disease ecology of other important foundation species.

Photo of Noah Claflin

Noah Claflin
Master's Student

Hello there! I graduated from Texas A&M University at Galveston in 2018 with a B.S. in Marine Biology and a minor in Diving Technology and Methods. I held a research assistant position here in the Phytoplankton Dynamics Lab from my graduation until I began by Master’s degree in August 2021. My Master’s research project focuses on relationships between water quality and phytoplankton biomass and community structure in Galveston Bay. Using image data collected by IFCB (Imaging FlowCytobot) and a manually trained automatic classifier program, this research aims to analyze a seven year dataset looking at community dynamics surrounding seasonal variation, Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) formation, and severe weather events including flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. With increasing frequency of HAB formations and severe weather events, analysis of how the phytoplankton community of Galveston Bay react in response to these events is critical to maintaining the health, safety, and productivity of the ecosystem.

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Undergraduate Students      

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Christian Pryor
Undergraduate Researcher
Aggies Commit to Excellence Scholar

Hello! I joined the Phytoplankton Dynamics Lab in the Fall of 2022 as an undergraduate researcher. I am currently pursuing a B.S. in Marine Sciences with a minor in chemistry. My research interests include microbial biogeochemistry and aquatic primary productivity.

My first year in the lab, I worked with Sarah Davis to assess the impacts of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs), a class of persistent man-made chemicals, on Texas Coast phytoplankton. My project investigated the physiological toxicity of 6:2 Fluorotelomer Sulfonate (6:2 FTS) , a non-toxic substitute for bioaccumulative and toxic PFASs. The growing use of 6:2 FTS and a lack of knowledge on its aquatic toxicity make studies like ours necessary. Since completing my 6:2 FTS project, I am now designing an undergraduate thesis that examines bacteria-phytoplankton interactions.

Photo of Madeline Sunshine

Madeline Sunshine
Undergraduate Student
She/ Her/ Hers

Howdy! I am a sophomore currently volunteering in the Phytoplankton Dynamics lab. I monitor harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in Galveston Bay through our Imaging FlowCytobot (IFCB). The IFCB uses a combination of flow cytometric and video technology to capture high resolution images of suspended particles. The process involves collecting specimen samples, filtering for Chlorophyll-a, focusing images captured on​ the​ IFCB, and evaluating these images of phytoplankton cells to determine the presence of HABs. I will graduate in the Spring of 2025 with a double-degree in Marine Biology and Marine Fisheries. My personal interests include plant ecology, molecular biology, conservation of marine ecosystems, and invertebrate zoology.

Photo of Paris Waters Lockridge

Paris Waters Lockridge
Undergraduate Student
She/ Her/ Hers

Howdy! I am a sophomore volunteer at the Phytoplankton Dynamics Lab. I observe the phytoplankton community in the Galveston shipping channel through the use our labs Imaging FlowCytobot, which illustrates high resolution images of particles. I will graduate in 2025 with undergraduate degrees in both Marine Biology and Marine Fisheries. My interests include evolutionary studies, marine and coastal conservation, and marine mammalogy.

Photo of Janae Childs

Janae Childs
Undergraduate Student
Aggies Commit to Excellence Scholar

Howdy! My name is Janae Childs and I have been with the Phytoplankton Lab as an undergraduate volunteer and researcher since the Spring of 2023. I am a sophomore marine biology major and ACES scholar. My areas of interest are sharks, veterinary medicine, and rehabilitation efforts. My research has focused on perfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS) and their effect on harmful algal bloom species, specifically Karenia brevis. I have been working on this project under the guidance of graduate student, Sarah Davis and alongside fellow undergraduate student, Chris Pryor. 

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Grad Students

Jessica Hillhouse

M.S. in Marine Biology, 2022

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"

Dr. 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)

Dr. Angela Capper 2008-2009

Now Lecturer, James Cook University, Australia

Angela Capper'

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

Now Associate Professor, Nanjing University, China

Miao Aijin's Google Scholar


Manoj Kamalanathan

Now Senior Research Scientist, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

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

Undergraduate Students

 Shaley Klumker

B.S. in Marine Biology and Marine Fisheries, 2022 - Undergraduate Research Scholar and Aggies Commit to Excellence Scholar

Thesis title: "Perfluorooctane sulfonate and natural phytoplankton communities: pollutant insight from the base of aquatic food webs."


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