July 7, 2015

Current Students


Maya Almaraz is a Ph.D. student in the Brown-MBL program.  She is advised by Assistant Professor Stephen Porder (Brown-EEB) and Senior Scientist and Brown-MBL Program Director Chris Neill (MBL).  Maya is interested in tropical terrestrial biogeochemical cycling, with a particular emphasis on nitrogen cycling related to global change.  As a participant in the PIRE project, she will focus her dissertation studies on the environmental consequences of increased fertilizer use in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Her research will focus on the way nutrient additions affect the fate of nitrogen, and the potential for deleterious losses to the atmosphere.  This research is geared towards maintaining crop yield in countries strongly affected by hunger while informing management decisions that are environmentally conscious.  Maya is also interested in looking at tropical forests to explore the controls on denitrification and she is currently exploring this topic in the El Yunque forest of Puerto Rico.



Angus Angermeyer is a graduate student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department at Brown. His work with Julie Huber at the MBL focuses on the exploration of microbial diversity in deep-sea hydrothermal vents. By studying the extent and composition of microbial assemblages in this system he hopes to gain insight into the process that drove early evolution on earth and, possibly, other planets.





Will Daniels is interested in how lake ecosystems respond to changing climate and nutrient regimes and how those changes are recorded in lake sediments.  He is currently examining how nutrient cycling, bacterial activity, and algal communities are affected by whole-lake fertilization experiments in the Toolik Lake region of Arctic Alaska.  He just finished participating in a diatom taxonomy course in Iowa and plans to apply this tool to his ongoing work.  Will is co-advised by Anne Giblin of the Ecosystem Center and Jim Russell in Brown’s Department of Geological Sciences.




Catherine Luria recently completed her third year in the Brown-MBL Graduate Program, advised by Linda Amaral Zettler at the MBL and Jeremy Rich at Brown University. She works annually at a field station on the Antarctic Peninsula, where she participates in the Palmer Station Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) project. Catherine is examining not only how microbial communities in this region change across study sites, seasons, and years, but also what factors drive microbial seasonal succession on a backdrop of rapid climate change. She is particularly interested in the effects of annual sea ice advance and retreat on microbial communities. She will return to Antarctica to continue her research throughout her studies.




Marc Mayes is studying land cover and biogeochemical changes in East African dry tropical forest landscapes (Miombo Woodlands) as tree stands regrow following cultivation. The goals of his PhD 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.  Aspects of Marc’s PhD 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 PhD 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. In the Brown-MBL program, Marc is funded by the NSF-PIRE project (PI: Chris Neill) and advised by Dr. Jerry Melillo  at MBL and Dr. Jack Mustard at Brown University.



Chelsea Nagy, advised by Chris Neill at the MBL and Stephen Porder at Brown, studies how land-use changes impact forest health in the Amazon soybean-growing region of Brazil.  Chelsea recently received a three year EPA Star  (Science  to Achieve Results) Research Award.





Apollonya Porcelli
is a graduate student in the department of Sociology. She works both with Leah Vanwey of the Sociology Department and Chris Neill of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and MBL. She is affiliated with the Environmental Change Initiative (ECI), the Population Studies Training Center (PSTC) and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS). She is interested in studying coupled human and natural systems. Her primary study site is in Brazil, focusing on the effects of the Belo Monte dam on fishing communities and fish populations. By narrowing in on a specific culture group, she will be able to study specifically the implications that culture has on social networks, migration and access to natural capital.




Victor Schmidt, a Ph.D. student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at Brown, is advised by Linda Amaral Zettler at the MBL and Katherine Smith at Brown.  He is primarily interested in the influence microbial community shifts can have on disease development, pathogen transmission, human and ecosystem health. His current research follows the microbiomes associated with ornamental fish across a trade route, the influence of a sewage outfall in a saltmarsh, and a meta-analyses of human pathogens from previously sequenced datasets of host-associated and environmental samples publicly available on the VAMPS website.




keithSpanglerphotoKeith Spangler is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Geological Sciences studying regional climate and land use in the Brazilian Amazon. He is working with Chris Neill at MBL, Mike Coe at Woods Hole Research Center, and Amanda Lynch and Jack Mustard at Brown to develop a comprehensive climate and land use model for the Mato Grosso region. His work is part of an interdisciplinary research group in the Environmental Change Initiative at Brown that considers physical and social dimensions of environmental change in Brazil.





Mai Tran is a graduate student in the Physics Department at Brown. At the MBL, she works with Rudolf Oldenbourg in the Cellular Dynamics Program. She is interested in the use of light field imaging using polarized light to characterize the 3 dimensional distribution of birefringence in biological tissues such as collagen matrices. Important aspects of the 3D architecture of the tissue can be monitored using polarized light field microscopy. Her general research interests include optics and photonics, biophysics and nanoscience and nanotechnology.





Yinsui_Zheng_photoYinsui Zheng is a first year Ph.D student in the Department of Geological Sciences at Brown. She is co-advised by Yongsong Huang at Brown and Maureen Conte at the Ecosystems Center at MBL.  She is interested in the study of paleoclimate change and paleoecology systems and will conduct research by analyzing the elements of samples with XRF, compound specific hydrogen and carbon isotope analyses and other geochemistry and paleoecological approaches. Yinsui will use these organic geochemical tracers to study the past climate of the Northern Amazon and its sensitivity to large-scale Atlantic climate forcing. She will be analyzing the precipitation and paleoecological records of a lake sediment core from Lac Toponowini in French Guiana.