April 18, 2014


Twelve students have graduated from the program with Ph.D.s since 2007, four of those in 2012 and two in 2013. Four others have left early with Master’s degrees.

Program Graduates (Doctorates)


LindsayBrinLindsay Brin received her PhD from Brown University in September 2013. Lindsay, a student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown University, worked and studied under Assistant Professor Jeremy Rich at Brown and Anne Giblin, MBL Ecosystems Center Senior Scientist . Her research focused on the relationship between environmental factors and microbially-mediated nitrate reduction processes in coastal sediments, particularly denitrification, anammox and dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA). Her work illustrated the role of temperature, organic matter and nitrate in determining rates of nitrate reduction in New England coastal sediments, providing some of the first seasonal data on these processes. Lindsay will continue her research as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biology at the Potato Research Centre in Fredericton, NB, Canada, to study the effects of climate change, particularly altered snow cover, on N cycling in agricultural soils.


cbiloganCassandra Bilogan received her PhD from Brown University in August 2013. She was working in Dr. Marko Horb’s lab at the MBL’s Bell Center for Regenerative Biology and Tissue Engineering. Cassandra’s research focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms involved in endoderm development and pancreatic organogenesis in Xenopus laevis. Specifically, she identified a novel role for a well-conserved RNA-binding protein during endoderm development. This research provided new insights into a previously unappreciated role of the spatial-temporal regulation of germ layer patterning during gastrulation. Cassandra has accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic in the lab of Dr. Takuya Sakaguchi.



Anupriya Dutta received her PhD in the Fall of 2012. Dutta, advised by David Mark Welch at the MBL, studied genome evolution of bdelloid rotifers. Her research focused on understanding the importance of sex for long-term evolutionary success. Bdelloid rotifers are microscopic invertebrates that make up one of the few known ancient asexual lineages among animals. Unraveling the reasons for their remarkable asexual evolution by using a comparative genomics approach will provide the essential clues needed to answer this fundamental question in biology.

Read more about Priya’s dissertation work here.


Yuko Hasegawa received her PhD in Fall 2012. She was a PhD student in the Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry Department at Brown. At the MBL, Yuko was jointly advised by Gary Borisy and Mitch Sogin. Her dissertation work involved developing an imaging technique to analyze micron-scale spatial distribution of a synthetic human gut bacterial community using a mouse model. Yuko analyzed multiple target bacterial groups by (1) by using a molecular biology technique called fluoresce in situ hybridization (FISH) to fluorescently label specific bacteria of interest and (2) by performing spectral imaging analysis of fluorescent dyes. Yuko is now a Research Coordinator at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST), Marine Science Resources Section in Japan.



Susanna Theroux works with Yongsong Huang in the Department of Geosciences at Brown and Linda Amaral Zettler at in the Josephine Bay Paul center for Comparative Molecular Biology and Evolution at the MBL. She is interested in the use of molecular biological tools to answer paleoclimate questions. Susie currently studies Arctic species of haptophyte algae and their organic biomarkers.

Read more about Susanna’s dissertation research here.


Shelby Hayhoe Riskin received her PhD in Spring 2012. Hayhoe-Riskin, advised by Stephen Porder in Brown’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Chris Neill at the MBL Ecosystems Center studied the impacts of agricultural expansion and intensification in the Brazilian Amazon. Specifically, she studied the biogeochemical and hydrological differences in streams and soils between primary forest and soy agriculture.

Read more about Shelby’s dissertation work here.

Shelby’s work on phosphorous in soybean fields in Brazil, the US and Argentina was recently featured in Science Daily: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217152649.htm.


Alex Valm received his Ph.D. in early 2012. Valm, advised by Andrew Campbell at Brown and Gary Borisy at MBL,  worked with a team at both institutions to develop  a multi-color fluorescent labeling technology that allows scientists to distinguish the spatial arrangements and interactions of dozens of microbes in a given location (the oral cavity, in this case). Dr. Valm is now a post-doctoral fellow at the Human Genome Project of the National Institutes of Health.



Gillian Galford received her Ph.D. in November 2009 in the field of terrestrial remote sensing with Brown Professor of Geological Sciences Jack Mustard. At the MBL, she collaborated with Ecosystems Center co-director Jerry Melillo to use remote sensing as a tool to understand temporal and spatial patterns of land cover and land use change in a region of Southwestern Brazil. Dr. Galford is now a post-doctoral research associate at the Earth Institute at Columbia University.



Erica Lasek-Nesselquist worked with Mitchell Sogin exploring the population biology of Giardia duodenalis, including the genetic exchange, prevalence, and geographic and host species distributions of Giardia duodenalis lineages using molecular techniques, with an emphasis on elucidating the status and zoonotic potential of Giardia duodenalis in marine systems. She is interested in the population biology and transmission dynamics of parasites in marine systems as well as the molecular evolution of protists. Dr. Lasek-Nesselquist is currently a post-doctoral researcher with the Gogarten Laboratory at the University of Connecticut working on the Tree of Life.


Yawei Luo received his Ph.D. in August 2009. He was co-advised by Hugh Ducklow at the MBL’s Ecosystems Center and Warren Prell at Brown University.  His major scientific interest is ecosystem modeling and microbial ecology of the open ocean. Dr. Luo is now a Post-Doctoral Researcher in Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Luo Website

MBL News Release: Modeling Open Ocean Microbial Ecosystems is Focus of First MBL/Brown Ph.D. at the Ecosystems Center



Justin Widener received his Ph.D. in 2007.  He was co-advised by Stephen Hajduk at the MBL and Andrew Campbell at Brown, His dissertation was entitled, ‘ Biogenesis of Trypanosome Lytic Factor and Mechanism of Trypanosome Killing.’  Dr. Widener is currently a Project Planner at Merial, a global company producing animal drugs and vaccines.





April Shiflett received her Ph.D. in May of 2007.  She was co-advised by Stephen Hajduk at the MBL and Andrew Campbell at Brown. Her dissertation was entitled, ‘Susceptibility and Resistance to Human TLF in African Trypanosomes.’  She studied the African trypanosome, the parasite that causes African sleeping sickness, and was a member of the MBL’s Global Infectious Diseases Program. Dr. Shiflett is currently a scientist at Amgen.

MBL News Release: First Student in Brown-MBL Joint Program in Biological and Environmental Sciences Receives Ph.D.


Program Graduates (Master’s Degrees)

Kristin Meyers, advised by Hugh Ducklow at the MBL and Jeremy Rich at Brown, received her MS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2009.

Marselle Alexander-Ozinskas, advised by Gus Shaver at the MBL and Osvaldo Sala at Brown, received her MS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2008.

Angela Allen, advised by  Bruce Peterson at the MBL and Osvaldo Sala at Brown, received her MS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2008.

Seeta Sistla, advised by Jerry Melillo at the MBL and  Osvaldo Sala at Brown, received her MS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2008.