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

Current Graduate Students

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Kaleigh Arnold

Loyola University - BS, Biology

My research explores how temperature induced vertebral anomalies in the spinal column of a model fish species, Astyanax mexicanus, may impact the performance of their escape response. This research will help to elucidate the effects skeletal anomalies have on freshwater fish facing threats of predicted increases in temperature within the Neotropical region.  (Advisor: Dr. Aguirre)

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Patrycja Aksamit

DePaul University - BS, Health Science

My research interests and personal hobbies have always centered around the study and conservation of animals, with a particular focus on reptiles and amphibians. I am currently working with the Field Museum on research involving the herpetofauna of the Chicagoland area. (Advisors: Dr. Ruane (Field Museum of Natural History) and Dr. Aguirre)

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Antonio Armagno

University of Montana, Missoula - BA, Biology; BFA, Theater

My current research explores how marine fauna change over time due to environmental changes, and how those signals can be interpreted from the fossil record. This research will not only fill a gap in understanding of the Western Interior Seaway of North America but could also help prepare conservation biologists to mitigate the effects of climate change on coastal marine habitats. (Advisor: Dr. Shimada)

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Cary Brandolino

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign - BS, Molecular and Cellular Biology

My research interests are in variation of gene expression due to environmental stimuli. Before coming to DePaul, I was a technician in a lab focused on differences in immune response based on genetic ancestry. For my thesis, I am investigating the impact of retinoic acid on ovarian development and cell signaling in a transgenic mouse model. (Advisor: Dr. Kipp)

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Jim Camilleri

Michigan State University – BS, Human Biology

My research interests are in microbiology, cell & molecular biology, and human health. For my thesis, I am investigating a link between herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and Alzheimer's Disease (AD), specifically examining whether HSV-1 entry into cells is affected by apolipoprotein-E-ε4 (ApoE-ε4), a genetic risk factor for AD. (Advisor: Dr. Connolly)

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Kiley Chernicky

University of South Florida BS, Environmental Biology

My research interests center around population dynamics of mixed conifer forests. I plan to focus on regeneration in populations of white spruce (Picea glauca) and balsam fir (Abies balsamea). I am hopeful that this research will shine some light on a relatively understudied aspect of conifer forests and mast seeding.   (Advisor: Dr. LaMontagne)

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John de Abreu

Stonehill College – BS, Biology

The goal of my project is to investigate the genetic diversity and population structure of Cladia aggregata, a species of lichen-forming fungi, across Asia and the Neotropics. The primary goal is to determine whether there is evidence of ongoing gene flow between the Asian and Neotropical populations or if these populations should be recognized as distinct species. (Advisors: Dr. Grewe (Field Museum) and Dr. Dean)

Jennifer Dinh

Jennifer Dinh

DePaul University - BS, Health Science

My research interests are focused on looking at the effects of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in both sexes of adolescent rats.  (Advisor: Dr. Bell)

Christian Graca

Christian Graca

DePaul University - BA, Biological Sciences with a Concentration in Ecology and Evolution

Coming soon.  (Advisor: Dr. Aguirre)

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Jesse Grooms

Missouri Southern State University – BS, Biology (Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation)

My research interests include Ecology and Macrosystems biology. My current research is looking to find ecological dipoles that exist at a continental scale in seed-eating small mammal and bird populations as a result of mast-seeding by trees. My research uses data collected at 25 National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) sites spanning almost 6000 kilometers and involves investigating novel connections at large spatial scales. (Advisor: Dr. LaMontagne)

James Hach

University of Mount Union - BS, Biology and Spanish

James is interested in the ecophysiology of fish, primarily how they respond to exposure to aquatic pollutants. His current research explores the effects of polyethylene nanoplastics on the gill function and behavior of Zebrafish (Danio rerio). He hopes to use this research to promote the conservation of aquatic habitats. (Advisor: Dr. Bystriansky)

Owen Howard

DePaul University - BS, Biological Sciences

My research interests include functional morphology, evolutionary-developmental biology, and ichthyology. I am working to elucidate how deformities of the spine in the Mexican tetra (Astyanax mexicanus) influences body shape, an ecologically relevant trait. As these deformities arise through changes in water temperature, I hope that my research may provide insight into the potential impacts of climate change on freshwater fish fitness. (Advisor: Dr. Aguirre)

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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)

Sarah Pascarella

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh - BS, Biology

My research includes examining the neurocrania of different Lake Malawi cichlids to understand how morphology influences feeding performance. Additionally, I am interested in uncovering the genetic basis of neurocranial shape variation. Through this research, I aim to gain insights into the incipient stages of adaptive radiation. (Advisor: Dr. Conith)

Alexis Pawlak

Alexis Pawlak

DePaul University - BS, Biological Sciences

My research interests are in cell and molecular biology. For my thesis, I am examining the effects of gold(I) chloride compounds on the cell proliferation and cell survival proteins in prominent signaling pathways of breast cancer cells.  (Advisor: Dr. Rajah)

Langston Pendleton

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

Genetics (Advisor: Dr. Gilliland)

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Olivia Schweikart

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

Hi, there! I am a second-year graduate student in the Aguirre Lab here at DePaul. My primary research interests include using environmental DNA as a means of identifying the presence or absence of select freshwater fish taxa in the wild, and subsequently using my data to predict the abundance of the taxa at sampling sites. Visualization of this involves distribution mapping of species occurrences and using heat maps to demonstrate abundance. In preparation for my project, and to fill in lacking information on genetic databases, I am working to create a reference library at the 12s, 16s,  and COI loci for the freshwater fish taxa represented in Western Ecuador. Whereas I aim to have all taxa represented in the reference library, my focus research with eDNA only looks at five commercially, economically, or ecologically important species that are threatened by coastal incursion events from sea level rise.  (Advisor: Dr. Aguirre)

Marcelina Skowronski

DePaul University - BS Biological Sciences

My research interest focuses on the ecology and evolution core of biology. I am currently investigating a fossil fish specimen collected from a Late Cretaceous marine deposit in Texas. It is tentatively identified to belong to a species of the extinct bony fish order Tselfatiiformes and is anticipated to offer new information about the evolution of this order. (Advisor: Dr. Shimada)

Gia Valdez

DePaul University – BS, Neuroscience; BS, Psychology

My research interests include understanding the effects of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) on alterations to epigenetics and physiology as a variable for psychiatric and neural disorder onset. My goal is to clarify the role of these chemicals as an exacerbator of both mental and physical illness during critical periods of growth. (Advisor: Dr. Bell)

Adrianna Yoder

Case Western Reserve University BS, Biology, Biochemistry

Coming soon.  (Advisor: Dr. LaMontagne)

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Sophia Zygowski

DePaul University - BS, Biological Sciences

My research interests include viruses that infect bacteria, known as bacteriophages. I’m interested in the use of phages as an alternative treatment strategy to infections with antibiotic resistant bacteria. My current research is focused on characterizing phages against the multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogen Stenotrophomonas maltophilia. (Advisor: Dr. Brooke)