People and Projects

Graduate Students

Amanda Russell

Oyster Health on Living Shorelines in Newport Bay

I am investigating the impact of environmental conditions, restoration design, and potential contaminants on oyster growth, recruitment, and health in Upper Newport Bay, CA.  I use transcriptomics to measure the overall health of both native and non-native species, as a sensitive method that accounts for responses to subtle environmental changes. With greater understanding about res toration projects, oysters have the potential to be a crucial aspect of wetland and coastal conservation. I hope to build conservation awareness and stewardship within local communities through educational outreach.

Nicolette Schuko

I have always been fascinated by the effects of pollutants on human and animal health, which lead me to toxicology. My research focuses on the impacts of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) and triclosan that may alter intracellular Ca2+ leading to changes in gene transcription.  This research has implications on altered neuronal growth, learning and memory, and muscle contractions. After graduation, I aim to work as a toxicologist in an agency that works to protect and educate the public on the dangers of pollutants.

Pollutant Induced Changes in  Gene Transcription

Kara Wiggin

 I am interested in understanding the impact of plastics in the environment and ultimately educating the public on ways to reduce single-use plastic items.  My Master’s research focuses on plastic that ends up in the oceans looking at small pieces, known as microplastics.  Microplastics are not visible by the naked eye but can absorb toxic chemicals and are commonly eaten by small marine organisms.  My research aims to detect the levels of these microplastics in the aquatic environments around Long Beach, CA, and assess their impact on the local invertebrate zooplankton. After graduation, I aim to continue on to a doctoral degree to further understand microplastic toxicity.

Microplastics in Waters Around Long Beach

Undergraduate Students

Cell Tox

Pollutants and Altered Cell Signaling 

Jorge Alfaro, Alexis Sorensen and Ryan Ozawa are working with hypothalamic and pituitary cell lines to understand how pollutants alter the function of calcium channels leading to altered cell signaling.


Pollutants in Aquatic Environments

Jordan Alejo, Marian de Orla Barile, Torie Pedroza and Joseph Porgess are measuring the prevalence of pollutants in the environment or their impacts on aquatic species.  Projects include the detection of metals or legacy contaminant in California waters, understanding the impacts of emerging pesticide or plastic pollution on aquatic vertebrate and invertebrate species and the impact of oil spills on fish.


Previous Students
-Brianna Maloney (01/17-08/18; UGR).  Honors thesis measured the combined effects of phthalates and temperature stress in Daphnia.  
-Nicole Magna (08/17-05/18; UGR)  Helped culture invertebrate zooplankton species for use in studies assessing the effect of microplastics on aquatic species.  Currently attending Pharmacy School.
-Javier Lepe (03/16-06/17; UGR)  Currently working as a research technician in the Anderson and Cummings Laboratory at the University of California Irvine
-Monica Luna (Summer 2016; UGR).  Cellular culture of hypothalamic and pituitary cells. Currently, a Laboratory Analyst with LA Testing in Huntington Beach, Ca
-Zareeb Lorenzana (08/16-08/17; UGR).  Assessed the occurence of single nucleotide variants in killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus)  that have adapted to severely polluted locations.