July 2, 2015

Summer Undergraduate Participants


Each summer, a number of undergraduates from Brown University work at labs at the MBL or at Brown-MBL field sites. In the summer of 2014, five undergraduates are working in various capacities with MBL research staff.


Lia Tosiello’15 has returned to MBL for a second summer of ecological field research. In 2014, she was awarded an Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award (UTRA) fellowship from Brown University to support her summer internship. She will be working with Christopher Neill at the Plum Island Long Term Ecological Research site (LTER) in the Ipswich River and Parker River watersheds studying beaver dams and the surrounding vegetation.


Henry Baker sampling in the salt marsh at the Plum Island LTER site.

Henry Baker sampling in the salt marsh at the Plum Island LTER site.

Henry Baker’15 and Nguyen Le’16 were both awarded the Rosenthal Brown MBL LINK Awards for summer research. Henry is working with James Nelson and Linda Deegan in the Ecosystems Center at MBL as part of the TIDE Project, a large scale, multi-disciplinary project studying the effects of nutrient enrichment on salt marshes in the Plum Island Estuary, MA. Henry will develop a research plan to study excess nutrient effects on marshes examining plant and animal populations (mainly striped bass), food webs and biogeochemistry.





Nguyen Le in the Lab

Nguyen Le in the Oldenbourg lab at MBL loading the microfluidic chip with water to test the birefringence of the chip material.


Nguyen is working in the laboratory of Rudolf Oldenbourg with the Cellular Dynamics Program at MBL. He is being trained in optics and imaging technology and the use of polarized light microscopy for label-free imaging of cells and tissues. Nguyen is working on a microfluidic dynamics project in collaboration with Timothy Springer’s lab at the Harvard Medical School. He is using microscopy and imaging software, invented in the Oldenbourg lab, to study flow birefringence and how molecules can be oriented by shear force.


Alyssa Browning

Alyssa Browning in the field in Martha’s Vineyard.




Alyssa Browning’15, a 2014 Voss Environmental Fellow, works with Christopher Neill in the Ecosystems Center in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy on Martha’s Vineyard. She is evaluating the efficacy of homeowner implemented land restoration through the study of vegetation structure as well as bee and butterfly abundance and diversity. Their research will help inform conservation strategies taken to improve habitat connectivity on the island.







Trevor Young

Trevor Young in the lab of David Mark Welch at MBL.


Trevor Young’15 was awarded a 2013 Beckman Scholarship to work with David Mark Welch in the Bay Paul Center. He is a rising senior at Brown University, concentrating in biochemistry and molecular biology. He is originally from Ohio and moved to the east coast to pursue his passion for science! This summer in the lab he will be looking at trypanothione as a remedy for oxidative stress in rotifers.







In the summer of 2013, 10 undergraduates worked in various capacities in MBL labs in Woods Hole, MA or at MBL field sites.

Jessica in lab

Jessica Fields working in the MBL lab with a critical point dryer preparing plastic samples for SEM imaging.

Jessica Fields’14 and Adam Bouché’14 were awarded the Rosenthal Brown MBL LINK Awards for summer research. Jessica worked with Linda Amaral Zettler at MBL on a project examining the role of microbial community associations with Plastic Marine Debris (PMD) in the coastal environment. She tested whether the type of plastic debris impacts the types of microbes that develop at a given location as well as comparing her results with similar experiments in Antarctica and off the coast of Grenada to see if there are differences in the microbial communities that develop on PMD across different aquatic habitats. Adam Bouché worked with Christopher Neill at the Plum Island Long Term Ecological Research site (LTER) examining the effects of suburban watershed modification on nutrient loading in riparian and coastal wetland ecosystems.

Emma Dixon’13, a 2012 Beckman Scholar returned for her 2nd year to continue her work with Christopher Neill looking at plant diversity in residential ecosystems in the Boston area on a project entitled ‘The Ecological Homogenization of Urban America’. Beverly Naigles’14, a 2013 Beckman Scholar, worked with David Mark Welch on the effects of oxidative stress on bdelloid rotifers to investigate the potential positive effects of undergoing a stress event and the relationship of the stress response to bdelloids’ resistance to desiccation.

leucophore small

This cell type, called a leucophore, has been discovered in the skin of cuttlefish to passively emit one of the purest whites ever observed in nature. This 3D rendering was generated through a combination of SEM imaging using Gatan 3View® and Blender.(Lizzie Kripke, Stephen Senft, Dmitry Mozzherin)


Lizzie Kripke’14, a joint Brown/RISD student, was awarded a Maharam STEAM Fellowship (through RISD) to support her continued work in the Roger Hanlon Laboratory. While there, she integrated methods of neuroscience and painting toward the study of biological mechanisms responsible for dynamic camouflage in cephalopods. She also worked with the Encyclopedia of Life to develop new scientific applications for the artistic animation software, Blender. For more information on her current work click here and on last year’s work go to http://arcadenw.org/article/scientific-artistry.


Consulting with botanist, Pam Palloni, to record vegetation diversity and cover in monitoring plots, as part of a long-term study in Lighthouse Pasture, Naushon.

Consulting with botanist, Pam Palloni, to record vegetation diversity and cover in monitoring plots, as part of a long-term study in Lighthouse Pasture, Naushon.





Lia Tosiello’15, Katie Surrey-Bergman’14, Megan Wheeler’13 and Suzi Spitzer’13 worked with Christopher Neill on a coastal sandplains vegetation management project on Naushon Island. They established vegetation sampling plots and analyzed species diversity in grasslands and shrublands in order to examine the effect of differing intensities of cattle grazing and mowing on vegetation patterns over time.



Insil Choi ’14, a RISD student, joined Nathan Wilson’s Lab for the summer 2013. Insil developed scientific illustrations and three-dimensional computer models related to morphological terms associated with fungi for the Encyclopedia of Life and Mushroom Observer.



In the summer of 2012, nine Brown undergraduates worked in various capacities in MBL labs or field sites.

Harriet Booth, Mara Freilich and John Ribbans were awarded Rosenthal Brown MBL LINK Awards for summer research. Harriet Booth worked with Linda Deegan at the Plum Island Long Term Ecological Research site (LTER) on how coastal eutrophication from increasing nutrient loads affects salt marsh food webs. Mara Freilich worked under the direction of Linda Amaral Zettler exanining the bloom dynamics of freshwater haptophytes in Lake George, North Dakota in order to understand the relationship between the ecology of haptophytes and the ability to use lipids they produce (alkenones) as a paleothermometer. John Ribbans worked in Rudolf Oldenbourg’s lab.

Jehane Samaha, Emma Dixon and Eli Ward identify plant species in suburban yards.

Norian Caporale-Berkowitz, another 2011 Beckman Scholar, returned to David Mark-Welch’s lab to continue his research on genomic modifications in bdelloid rotifers caused by desiccation and how these animals might eliminate harmful mutations in the absence of sexual reproduction.

Jehane Samaha  and Elisabeth Ward received UTRA Fellowships from Brown and Emma Dixon was a returning (2011) Beckman Scholar. Jehane, Elisabeth and Emma were working with Christopher Neill on a project entitled, ‘The Ecological Homogenization of Urban America’. They sampled species diversity, vegetation structure and carbon levels in Boston suburban ecosystems.

Elizabeth Kripke, a joint RISDI/Brown student, joined Roger Hanlon’s lab for the summer. Lizzie developed visual, three-dimensional computer models of cephalopod chromatophore morphology and physiology.

Finally, Michael Menesses was in Sauri, Kenya working on the  PIRE Project with Brown MBL PIRE graduate student, Maya Almaraz.