College of Science and Health > Academics > Biological Sciences > Graduate Programs > Current Graduate Students

Current Graduate Students

Angelina Anderson

Angelina Anderson

Roosevelt University - BA, Biology 

My research interests are in virology and pharmacology. In undergrad, I researched the adequacy of trial design and the discrepancies in observed adverse effects of CGRP-antagonists in the treatment of migraine patients in an effort to understand best practices for optimal use as a treatment. As a graduate student, I will be focusing on the herpes simplex virus type 1 and working to understand how the glycoprotein interactions of the virus affect membrane fusion.  (Advisor: Dr. Connolly )




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Kaleigh Arnold

Loyola University - BS, Biology

Temperature effects on skeletal morphology and swimming performance in fishes.  (Advisor: Dr. Aguirre)






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Zlata Bogin

Capital University - BS, Biology

My research interests are in reproductive biology and endocrinology. As a woman in science, I recognize how medical professions have only recently acknowledged the different ways that sex and gender impact health and illnesses. Because medical research has historically left women out, we still know less about the ways in which many diseases affect women or how to prevent, diagnose, and treat them. My thesis research focuses on how vitamin A deficiency affects fertility and ovarian development in mice.  (Advisor: Dr. Kipp)




Carissa Dressel

Carissa Dressel

Ball State University - BS, Biology 

I am interested in studying how environmental contaminants influence ecosystems and organisms. As an undergraduate, I studied how microplastics and nanoparticles impact the health and growth of aquatic plants. My graduate research will be focused on PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), which have been shown to affect the brain development and immune function of rats. Specifically, I will be examining the effects of PCBs on rat microglia in-vitro to determine how they interact on a cellular and molecular level.  (Advisor: Dr. Bell)




James Hach

University of Mount Union - BS, Biology and Spanish

My research interests are in comparative physiology and ecology. Specifically, how aquatic pollutants affect fish. As a graduate student I will be researching the effects of microplastic exposure on euryhaline fish development and gill function. (Advisor: Dr. Bystriansky)




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Mary Jones

University of Mount Olive - Biological Sciences

My research involves looking at the physiological effects of ocean acidification in Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica). I am particularly interested in their ability to sequester lead [Pb] in their calcium carbonate shells in acidified water, which is an important ecosystem service oysters provide in estuarine environments. Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increase ocean acidification and pose a great threat to most shelled marine invertebrates, so it is important to understand the implications on some of the ocean's most vulnerable inhabitants - oysters. (Advisor: Dr. Bystriansky)




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John Juranek

Loyola University Chicago - BS, Biology

I have always been interested in paleontology and evolution. As an undergrad I studied ornithology and ichthyology, and my current research is exploring the organisms that existed during the first marine incursion of the Western Interior Seaway into North America during the Cretaceous period. (Advisor: Dr. Shimada)




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Alexandra Krak

DePaul University - BS, Biological Sciences

My research interests are in fish physiology and evolution. I studied the prehistoric shark, Megachasma applegatei, during my undergrad with Dr. Shimada and worked to reconstruct the dentition of this extinct shark. For my graduate studies, I am working on assessing the salinity tolerance of the swordtail, Xiphophorus helleri, to better understand how this fish may have been able to cross over bodies of saltwater to enter new freshwater habitats. (Advisor: Dr. Bystriansky)




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Olivia LaMore

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign - BS, Animal Science

I am interested in exploring how changes in seawater pH affect the physiology of sea urchins (Lytechinus variegatus). (Advisor: Dr. Bystriansky)





Sarah Mashburn

Kennesaw State University - Biology

Genetics (Advisor: Dr. Gilliland)






Langston Pendleton

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - BS, Integrative Biology

Genetics (Advisor: Dr. Gilliland)





Ana Sofia Rivera

DePaul University - BS, Biological Sciences

Her strong interest in studying animal behavior and statistical data analysis, was the guiding force to pursue her Master’s. She will be working in Dr. LaMontagne’s lab, where she will learn more about tick-borne diseases and their outbreaks, a phenomenon that has increased over the past years and that is related to animals’ dynamics. (Advisor: Dr. LaMontagne)




Zoe Ryan

DePaul University - BS, Biological Sciences

 I am mainly interested in plant ecology, with a focus on community interactions. My research specifically looks at the growth of mosses based on environmental factors and other organisms in the environment through predictive mapping and specimen analysis. As mosses tend to have a very narrow niche, recording and determining their reasons for growth over time can also be an indicator of the impacts of climate change. (Advisors: Dr. Dean and Dr. von Konrat - Field Museum of Natural History)




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Olivia Schweikart

Auburn University - BS, Organismal Biology (Ecology, Evolution, Behavior) | BS, Animal Sciences (Pre-Vet Pre-Professional)

For my thesis, I am studying patterns of salinity tolerance in freshwater fishes of Western Ecuador. Specifically, I aim to create a species distribution map of salinity tolerance throughout the Guayaquil River-Basin, a region expected to experience severe coastal flooding by the end of this century.  (Advisor: Dr. Aguirre)




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Teddy Stoycheva

Loyola University Chicago - BS, Biology w/ Ecology emphasis

My interests revolve around understanding tree responses to climate change and the consequences for future ecosystem dynamics. I am especially interested in how climate change affects 1) conifer reproduction, 2) interspecific differences in the morphology of reproductive structures, and 3) the overall implications for future forest regeneration and composition. My thesis research focuses on the effects of experimental warming and elevated CO2 on reproduction in black spruce (Picea mariana) and eastern tamarack (Larix laricina), specifically regarding cone characteristics and seed viability. In the future, I hope to continue researching the effects of climate change on conifer reproduction, and to contribute to the improvement of conservation efforts and forest health. (Advisor: Dr. LaMontagne)




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Lydia Walther

Truman State University - BS, Biology

I am interested in the organism Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, a bacterial pathogen that is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. I am researching phages that can infect this bacterium as a potential alternative to traditional treatments.  (Advisor: Dr. Brooke)





Jake Wood

Jake "Shark" Wood

University of California, San Diego - BS, Marine Biology

I am currently investigating shark neurocrania across various groups. Observing the optic, olfactory and otic (OOO) capsules within the neurocrania enables me to find out information related to past, present, and future ecological characteristics in sharks. Carrying out this project will illustrate the impact that climate change has on future shark populations, and thus reveals the likelihood of the oceans staying healthy.   (Advisor: Dr. Shimada)