March 28, 2015

Brown-MBL Student Angus Angermeyer Publishes in Environmental Microbiology

Brown University Ecology and Evolutionary Biology graduate student Angus Angermeyer recently published the results of his first chapter of his thesis in Environmental Microbiology in March 2015. The research article entitled “Decoupled distance-decay patterns between dsrA and 16S rRNA genes among salt marsh sulfate-reducing bacteriarevealed that microorganisms can have environmental distributions that vary depending on which genes you use to track them. The article was co-authored by Angus’s advisor at MBL’s Bay Paul Center Associate Scientist Dr. Julie Huber and Dr. Sarah Crosby, a recent graduate of the Brown-MBL Partnership Program. Angus is in his final year of the program and plans to defend in the fall of 2015.

You can read and download a PDF of his article at Environmental Microbiology .

Eight Brown-MBL Graduate Students Receive Fellowships in 2014 and 2015

Maya Almaraz receives a NSF 2015 DDIG award.

Maya Almaraz receives a NSF 2015 DDIG award.

Maya Almaraz received a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG) for the grant proposal “Nitrous Oxide and Dinitrogen Production from Tropical Forest Soils Under Ambient and Fertilized Conditions”. Maya works with Associate Professor Steven Porder at Brown’s Dept of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) and with Brown-MBL Director Chris Neill at MBL. She will be traveling to the El Yunque National Forest in the northeastern mountains of Puerto Rico to investigate dinitrogen (N2) emissions from tropical forest soils and test their sensitivity of the N2O:N2 ratio of those emissions to nitrogen enrichment and differences in soil oxygen.

Chelsea Nagy received two grants in the spring of 2014. She was awarded a Dissertation Development Grant (DDG) award from the Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown and a Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) award for research in Brazil. These awards will allow her to continue her research in tropical biogeochemical cycling and land use change in Brazil. The DDG award will be used for analysis of radiocarbon to determine turnover time of organic matter in agricultural and forest soils of the Amazon. The CLACS award funded a trip to the Atlantic Forest of Brazil to collect field validation data for her model on secondary forest regrowth in areas with different land use histories.

DEEPS graduate student Will Daniels at the Arctic Circle in 2014.

Brown University DEEPS graduate student Will Daniels at the Arctic Circle in 2014.

Will Daniels, Apollonya Porcelli and Marc Mayes received grants from the Institute at Brown for Environment & Society (IBES). Will’s one-year graduate student fellowship will support his paleoclimate research examining sediment deposition, lake ecosystems and meteorology in remote lakes of the Alaskan Arctic. He is a Dept. of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences student studying under Senior Scientist Anne Gilbin at MBL and Associate Professor James Russell at Brown. Apollonya is working on her Masters in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, focusing on the food web connectivity of juvenile bluefish within Plum Island’s salt marshes. The project fits within her larger dissertation, which examines the intersection of science, culture and power within American fisheries management organizations held against the backdrop of climate change. This grant will fund stable isotope analysis and research expenses. Marc received a Research Travel and Training grant to fund a supplementary study on links between land cover, land-use change and groundwater quality in his study region in Tabora, Tanzania.

Angus Angermeyer and Sarah Crosby, two students also from Brown EEB, both received the Stanley Watson Fellowship in Environmental Sciences in the spring of 2014. Angus, co-advised by Associate Scientist Julie Huber at MBL’s Bay Paul Center and Professor Daniel Weinreich at Brown, studies marine microbial ecology and biogeography of marine microbes in coastal saltmarshes of the eastern Atlantic coast and deep sea hydrothermal vents from the Mid-Atlantic Ocean. Sarah Crosby uses a combination of field research and manipulative experiments to study Atlantic coast salt marsh ecosystems and specifically Spartina alterniflora responses to climate change impacts. She has defended her thesis and will graduate in May 2015.

Victor Schmidt received an NSF DDIG in 2014 to fund his microbial dissertation research. He will use a blend of theoretical and applied microbial ecology to further understand the role fish microbiomes, probiotics and antibiotics play in disease resistance to commercially important aquaculture pathogens. Victor has a particular interest in research which aims to better understand the role microbes may play in improving the efficiency, sustainability and profitability of aquaculture. Victor, a Brown EEB student, works with Associate Research Scientist Linda Amaral Zettler at MBL and Assistant Professor Katherine Smith at Brown University.

2015 NeuroPracticum Course Returns to MBL

Brown University graduate students participate in the 2015 NeuroPracticum course at MBL in Woods Hole. Credit: Anne Hart

Brown University graduate students participate in the 2015 NeuroPracticum course at MBL in Woods Hole. Credit: Anne Hart


On January 9-16, 2015 at MBL, the Brown Neuroscience Graduate Program returned to MBL for their intensive practical lab course called NeuroPracticum. Directed by Professors Anne Hart and Christopher Moore of Brown University, this intense course provides a hands-on practical lab experience in neuroscience experimental design, methodology and interpretation. Twelve Brown University graduate students took the course this winter. Most were 1st year graduate students in the Brown University Neuroscience NSGP and GPP programs. However, several students in the course were from affiliated graduate programs at Brown and attended with the support of the Brown Institute for Brain Sciences.

Before the course, students attended preparatory lectures held at Brown University and were given readings in pertinent neuroscience topics. During the course, students were at the bench full time, working side-by-side with faculty and teaching assistants. Each faculty member guided students through the intellectual and technical background of their respective fields. This year, the course was taught by faculty members from both Brown University and MBL. Dr. Diane Lipscombe and Dr. Scott Cruikshank each taught students the basics of electrophysiology- including in vitro brain slice recordings and extracellular single channel patch recordings in mammalian cell lines. Dr. Hart introduced students to behavioral genetics and molecular biology using the nematode C. elegans. Dr. Moore gave students hands-on experience with multi-electrode recordings from freely behaving mice. And, Dr Jennifer Morgan of MBL used studies of regeneration in the lamprey to introduce immunohistochemistry and cell biological approaches. In addition, selected senior graduate students from the Brown Neuroscience Program joined the course faculty and pursued their own research studies through training the younger students.

The NeuroPracticum course is a key feature of the Brown University Neuroscience Graduate Program curriculum, proving a critical practical component that helps students understand how science is actually done at the bench. Students, faculty and teaching assistants were at the bench in Loeb and Rowe all day and late into the night, reminiscent of MBL’s renowned summer courses.

Brown-MBL PIRE Fieldwork in Tanzania

Mayes explains the use of a LiCOR LAI-2200 sensor to measure canopy cover, and learns tips about medicinal uses of trees from a family on whose shamba (farm) is one of his research sites. Credit: M. Mayes

Marc Mayes, a Brown-MBL Ph.D. candidate in the Brown University Dept. of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, is studying land cover and biogeochemical changes in East African dry tropical forest landscapes (Miombo Woodlands) as tree stands regrow following cultivation as part of a PIRE (Partnership for International Research and Education) project in Africa. The goals of his research are to improve understanding of processes by which regrowing Miombo tree stands (1) accumulate carbon and nutrients, (2) recycle nutrients with soil, and (3) facilitate change in physical environmental variables, such as soil temperature and moisture, as their leaf area and canopy cover expands.  Applications of this work include quantifying benefits that low-input land management for natural forest regeneration could provide to smallholder agricultural communities. Such benefits include carbon credits, restoration of soil organic matter and nutrient stocks, and improvement of groundwater quality.

Marc teaches Tanzanian scientists and students principles of navigation, use of GPS to map field plots, and managing location data using geographic information systems (GIS).

Marc teaches Tanzanian scientists and students principles of navigation, use of GPS to map field plots, and managing location data using geographic information systems (GIS).

Aspects of Marc’s Ph.D. project have contributed to monitoring and evaluation of land cover changes between Millennium Village Project-affiliated and non-affiliated villages in the Tabora, Tanzania region.  Marc leverages remote sensing and fieldwork to identify landscape changes and study their effects for ecosystem biogeochemistry at regional spatial scales.  Beyond his Ph.D. work, Marc’s broader research and professional interests include monitoring and evaluation of land cover and land use changes on vegetation, soils and water resources as part of environmental remediation, restoration, land-use planning and conservation projects.

Marc is in his 4th year in the Brown-MBL program and is co-advised by Jack Mustard at Brown and Jerry Melillo at MBL’s Ecosystems Center. His research is funded by a grant award from the National Science Foundation PIRE Program.


Jim Tang’s Lab Studies Trace Gas Emissions at Four Cape Cod Salt Marshes

MBL Research Assistant Jessie Gunnard uses two portable gas analyzers to measure the flux of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide from the salt marsh at Sage Lot Pond. Credit: Kate Morkeski.

MBL Research Assistant Jessie Gunnard uses two portable gas analyzers to measure the flux of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide from the salt marsh at Sage Lot Pond. Credit: Kate Morkeski.

The hope of many researchers is that their hard-earned data points will tell a story that may one day catch the attention of the public and, ideally, inform public policy. Over the past two years, Associate Scientist Jim Tang’s group at the Ecosystems Center at MBL has been collaborating in a project with an unusual arrangement: the science and the management tools have been integrated since the start. As they each work on their respective components, collaborators from each facet of the project known as Bringing Wetlands to Market meet regularly at the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in order to understand and inform each others efforts, which include intensive empirical data collection, model development, policy methodology construction, economic analysis, and stakeholder feedback. The data and modeling components of the project are investigating the link between nitrogen pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from salt marshes. Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide all trap heat in the atmosphere and are all produced and consumed by organisms in salt marshes (and many other ecosystems) naturally, but their behavior can be affected by human activities such as nitrogen pollution. The policy and economic pieces are creating a method for accounting for these gases to include future salt marsh restoration efforts as credits in carbon markets, which until now have been limited to terrestrial carbon storage.

MBL Research Assistant Kate Morkeski monitors the concentration of gases flowing from the salt marsh at Sage Lot Pond. Credit: Joan Muller.

MBL Research Assistant Kate Morkeski monitors the concentration of gases flowing from the salt marsh at Sage Lot Pond. Credit: Joan Muller.

The Tang lab’s contribution is to measure the flow of these gases in and out of four local salt marshes that are located in estuaries representing a gradient of residential development and, therefore, of nitrogen pollution. A group of research assistants and students are using a custom-designed large, transparent chamber and two cutting-edge portable gas analyzers to measure the concentration of gases emitted throughout all four seasons, providing new information about the annual cycles in their production and consumption. The analyzers eliminate the need for traditional laboratory analysis of samples and allow for both a very high frequency of data collection and a real-time understanding of gas flows. The research team is simultaneously measuring a suite of environmental variables, plant community characteristics, and peat accumulation in order to complete our picture of the flow of carbon through these ecosystems.

For more information on the impact of nitrogen loading on salt marsh gas fluxes visit:

Brown-MBL PhD Student Sarah Corman Crosby Graduates in 2015

Sarah at one of her salt marsh field sites on the St. Jones River, Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Sarah at one of her salt marsh field sites on the St. Jones River, Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve.

On Monday, August 25, 2014, Sarah Corman Crosby, a PhD student in the Brown Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department, successful defended her thesis entitled ‘Salt Marshes in a Changing Climate’ at Brown University. Sarah submitted her dissertation in January and will officially graduate in May 2015. Sarah began her Ph.D. in the Brown-MBL Program in 2009 after receiving a M.Sc. in Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island and a B.A. in Biology from Tufts University. She was co-advised by Dr. Linda Deegan at MBL’s Ecosystem Center and Dr. Heather Leslie at Brown University.

Sarah’s dissertation examines the impact of increasing temperatures and rates of sea-level rise on salt marsh ecosystems. Her research focuses on the growth and reproduction of Spartina alterniflora (smooth cordgrass), a salt marsh foundation species that is highly important for the development and persistence of salt marshes. In her first chapter, her research shows that climate change will drive shifts in biomass allocation, mortality, and decomposition, which will alter marsh elevation gain processes. In the 2nd chapter her research examines additional impacts of rising temperatures on cordgrass seed output and phenological impacts of rising temperatures on elevation gain. In her final chapter, Sarah uses a meta-analysis to provide a large temporal and spatial-scale context and support for the population-level results in her first two chapters.

Sarah is grateful for the generous financial support of the NOAA National Estuarine Research Reserve System Graduate Research Fellowship, the National Park Service George Melendez Wright Climate Change Fellowship, the EPA Science to Achieve Results Graduate Student Fellowship, a Brown University Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Dissertation Development Grant, and the MBL Stanley Watson Graduate Student Fellowship.

Upon completion of her degree, Sarah accepted a position at an environmental non-profit where she is now leading a marine research and education program.

Upcoming Publications Based on Sarah’s Dissertation:

Crosby SC, D Sax, ME Palmer, HS Booth, LA Deegan, MD Bertness, HM Leslie. Salt marsh persistence is threatened worldwide by predicted sea-level rise. In preparation.

Crosby SC, M Ivens-Duran, MD Bertness, E Davey, LA Deegan, HM Leslie. Climate change impacts on salt marsh persistence by shifting cordgrass reproduction and biomass allocation. In review.

Crosby SC, A Angermeyer, JM Adler, MD Bertness, LA Deegan, N Sibinga, HM Leslie. Spartina alterniflora biomass allocation and climate: implications for salt marsh persistence with sea-level rise. In review.

Annual Brown-MBL Retreat Nov 7th and 8th at Brown University

Chris Neill at the 2014 Brown-MBL Retreat

Chris Neill at the 2014 Brown-MBL Retreat

The annual 2014 Brown-MBL Partnership Program Retreat and Symposium took place on November 7th – 8th at Brown University in the new Building for Environmental Research and Teaching (BERT). Over 50 students, faculty and staff from Brown University and MBL attended the two day event in Providence, RI. This year’s symposium focused on Land Use, Agriculture and Global Change with posters and talks from faculty, post-docs and Brown-MBL students ranging from agricultural land use practices in Brazil and Tanzania to farming and management opportunities in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.


Career Panel at Brown-MBL Symposium in Providence, RI

Career Panel at Brown-MBL Symposium in Providence, RI

A special career panel discussion sponsored by the Brown-MBL IGERT Program took place following the symposium on Saturday afternoon featuring a panel of five educators and scientists. The professional researchers outlined their schooling, work experiences, obstacles and paths to successful careers working in industry, government, non-profits, teaching colleges and universities as well as offered helpful advice for students and recent graduates entering into the work force.


For more information on the past event see the Brown-MBL Retreat Agenda


Informational Session on Brown-MBL Internships Oct 21st at Brown U


Want a Summer Internship at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA next summer?

The Brown-MBL Graduate Partnership Program and Brown University CareerLAB and Science Center will host an informational session on internships at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA on Tuesday, October 21st at 6 pm at Brown University. Summer internships will be available for Brown University undergraduate rising seniors or juniors.

Research faculty and scientists from MBL and former Brown-MBL undergraduate interns will be present to discuss future opportunities and experiences in the laboratory and field sites at MBL. Representatives from the Brown CareerLAB will be available to share information and application procedures on the Brown LINK Award & Internships. For information on former Brown-MBL interns’ experiences click here.

In addition, information will be available on the MBL Ecosystems Center Off-Campus Immersion Program the Semester in Environmental Science.

See our flier for this event:  Brown-MBL Info Session Flier



Tuesday, October 21 at 6pm

Brown University Science Center, General Study Room 315

201 Thayer Street, Sciences Library


Refreshments and pizza will be served


Brown-MBL PhD Student Akash Srivastava Defends PhD in August 2014

Akash Srivastava at Brown University thesis defense, August 18th.

Akash Srivastava at Brown University PhD thesis defense on August 18th, 2014.

On August 18th 2014, at Brown University Sidney Frank Hall, Brown-MBL PhD candidate Akash Srivastava successfully defended his dissertation entitled “Transdifferentiation of Liver to Pancreas”. Akash, a PhD student in the Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry Department (MCB) at Brown University conducted his research at MBL’s Eugene Bell Center for Regenerative Biology and Tissue Engineering under the advisement of Dr. Marko Horb and committee members Dr. Rich Freiman, Dr. Kristi Wharton, and Dr. Eric Morrow from the MCB Department. In 2008, Akash started his PhD at McGill University in Canada then transferred to Brown University entering the Brown-MBL Program in the fall of 2011. He holds a B.S (Biology) from Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gorakhpur University in India and a M.S. (Biochemistry) from Bundelkhand University also in India.

Akash’s PhD research focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms involved in transdifferentiation of liver to pancreas in Xenopus laevis. He identified a previously unknown role of a highly conserved beta-catenin inhibitor protein Chibby in transdifferentiation of liver to pancreas and in normal pancreas development. His research also provided a better understanding of the function of Wnt/beta catenin signaling in pancreas development. Funding for his research came from the Marko Horb lab at MBL with grant support from the National Institutes of Health.

After completing his final manuscripts, Akash plans to work as a Validation Consultant in the pharmaceutical industry this fall.

Brown-MBL Student Will Daniels Receives Brown University ISES Fellowship

Will Daniels Lake Ice Core

Will Daniels holds an archive of 10,000 years of Alaskan climate and environment data from one deep lake sediment core in northern Alaska. Photo by Will Longo.

Will Daniels will be entering his fourth year in the Brown-MBL Program in the fall of 2014. He is a PhD candidate in the Brown University Department of Geological Sciences recently renamed in July 2014 to the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences (DEEPS). He is co-advised by Anne Giblin at the Ecosystem Center at MBL and James Russell at Brown. In May, Will received a one-year graduate student fellowship with the Institute for the Study of Environment and Society (ISES) at Brown University. The fellowship will continue to support his paleoclimate research in remote Arctic lakes in northern Alaska.

In May, Will and fellow researchers from Brown University traveled to remote regions of the Alaskan Arctic to collect sediment cores from Arctic lakes including Upper Capsule Lake. The expedition was sponsored by the National Geographic Society. The goal of the project and field work is to retrieve deep lake bottom sediment cores and use novel and traditional paleolimnologic proxies to study the past climate of the region. Coupling this study with modern studies of sediment deposition, lake ecosystems, and meteorology will help provide a robust interpretation of the paleoclimate records. He will spend the summer and fall analyzing and interpreting the mud samples. To see more photos and read more about Will’s Arctic travels and research follow his blog.