Julie Blaze (PhD)

image of Julie Blaze

Julie Blaze (PhD)

Julie is a doctoral student in the Byers lab and has been working with the team since January 2016. She is interested in community ecology. Some of her previous work includes studying community dynamics in eelgrass beds, monitoring recovery of disturbed sandy shore habitats, and surveying migrating shorebird foraging behaviors.

Darren Fraser

image of Darren Fraser

Darren Fraser (MS)

Darren is interested in energy and nutrient dynamics at habitat edges. His current work focuses on how a terrestrial mesopredator, the North American raccoon utilizes the forest/salt marsh edge during foraging activity and the effects of this activity on salt marsh invertebrates.

R. Daniel Harris

image of Daniel Harris

R. Daniel Harris (PhD)

Daniel is interested in spatial interactions between ecosystem engineers and how small changes to these interactions could cause major ecosystem function shifts. He has 6 years of experience coordinating oyster restoration and living shoreline projects, which has lead to his current work studying oyster and Spartina interactions.

Website: robertdanielharris.com

Camilla Nivison

Camilla Nivison

Camilla Nivison (PhD)

Camilla joined the Byers lab as a doctoral student in 2022. She is interested in how invasive species spread and affect the ecosystems in which they establish. Her current research investigates how warming ocean temperatures due to climate change induce range expansions of marine invertebrates, and if populations will persist at the leading edge of the range. Before joining the Byers lab, she taught high school biology and environmental science.

Matt Pierce (PhD)

Matt Pierce (PhD)

Matt is interested in the relationships between the biotic and abiotic factors in coastal salt marshes. He is currently focused on how organisms move within and between wetlands and their interactions with Spartina alterniflora. His previous work focused on zooplankton community composition and cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms in freshwater reservoirs.

Megan Tomamichel

image of Megan Tomamichel

Megan Tomamichel (PhD)

Megan is interested in investigating the relationships between parasites, the environment, human activity and host population cycles. Her research blends theoretical and predictive modeling with empirical experiments. Currently, she is conducting experiments on shrimp black gill disease in coastal Georgia to parameterize a model that simulates the population level effects of the disease. She is co-advised with Richard Hall in the IDEAS program.

Shelby Ziegler

image of Postdoc Shelby Ziegler holding fish

Shelby Ziegler

Shelby is interested in understanding how spatial and temporal variation in coastal habitats influences species interactions, energy flows, and ecosystem dynamics. For her postdoc, she is investigating how multiple stressors affect oyster reef structure, function and disease dynamics.

Website: https://www.shelbyziegler.net/

Current Undergraduates

Current Undergrads

Blake Bayer in marine ecology lab

Blake Bayer

Blake began working in the lab his freshman year. He is investigating effects of parasites on oyster filtration.

Sarah Cutts with oyster tank

Sarah Cutts

Sarah is an Ecology major interested in socio-ecological interactions and science communication. Her work focuses on conducting DNA extractions and qPCR to assess disease dynamics in oysters and assisting with spatial analyses to understand how land use change influences oyster reefs using tools in ArcGIS.

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Hanna Demmler

Hanna is an Honors student with broad interests. She has aided projects on vertebrate use of salt marsh habitat and developing parasites as biological indicators.

Elianna Fox

Elianna Fox

Elianna is a third-year student pursuing a career in Marine Biology. Since growing up in Hawai’i, she has always had a fascination with marine life and is excited to expand her knowledge through research in the lab.

Sarah Pina

Sarah Piña

Sarah is a second year Ecology and Ocean Science student interested in marine ecology, environmental justice, and ethnobotany. She is currently working on projects involving water access on the southeastern coast and oyster parasites. 

Henry Traynor portrait

Henry Traynor

Henry is an Honors student in ecology and mathematics, interested in theoretical ecology and ichthyology. He is currently working on modelling invasive species populations.

Past Students

Former Associates

Undergraduates (Not a complete list)

Undergraduate Students

image of Will in scuba gear

Will Ellis

Will worked in the lab for several years on various projects. Most recently, his work addressed the joint effects of climate change and parasitism on host consumption.

image of Kate Moore

Kate Moore

Kate joined the lab as a third year ecology major. She was interested in aquatic ecosystems, conducting fieldwork on Sapelo Island.

image of Kimani Smith

Kimani Smith

Kimani’s work centered on the question of what maintains a species’ range. She used PCR and DNA sequencing to analyze the genetic variation between populations of the invasive crab, Petrolisthes armatus, along the coast of GA and SC.

image of student Carter Watson

Carter Watson

Carter examined parasite effects on behavior, especially the impact of infection on host movement.

image of Jordan at beach

Jordan McNally

Jordan was a Biology student that joined the Byers Lab in Spring 2021. She studied shrimp black gill disease and its implications on shrimp survival.

image of Kailah Massey

Kailah Massey

Kailah began working on a summer REU on parasite ecology and continued on diving deeper into the project which examined ecosystem effects of parasites and parasite diversity

image of Kaitlyn Lowe

Kaitlyn Lowe

Kaitlyn was a Biology major interested in attending medical school and becoming a physician. She worked on a Meta-Analysis about how aquatic host-parasite systems change at different temperatures.

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Hannah Hall

Hannah was a Biology and Ecology major with a passion for understanding climate change and its impact on coastal ecosystems. She studied the relationship between invasion and hypoxia.

image of Olivia Hair

Olivia Hair

Olivia was a senior, biology major with a passion for understanding ecological issues in marine environments. She worked on a project that studies black gill disease in shrimp.

image of Ben Frick at ecology building

Ben Frick

Ben’s research focused on the physiology and behavior of sessile species with a focus on how these species adapt. His interests within this realm are broad, ranging from Loggerhead sea turtle epibionts to Jorō spiders, carnivorous plants, and everything in between.

image of Elizabeth Esser in field

Elizabeth Esser

Elizabeth was an Ecology and Genetics double major. She used oceanic modeling of larval dispersal to investigate the correlation of larval dispersal distances and genetic metrics.  She was a Udall Scholar.

image of Murphy Belknap

Murphy Belknap

Murphy was interested in community and ecosystem ecology with a particular focus on climate change and its ecosystem effects. He worked with GIS spatial tools to quantify coastal infrastructure.

image of Alannah Dodd with donkey

Alannah Dodd

Alannah was interested in wildlife conservation particularly in marine systems. She had a summer 2021 CURO award to work on shrimp black gill disease and tube worm regeneration. She also worked on a literature review of invasive species and anoxia. Additionally , she helped on a GIS project quantifying coastal infrastructure and a remote sensing project to detect marine plastics. 

image of Taylor English at stream

Taylor English

Taylor worked on projects that address the division of labor in parasites.

Katie Maddox

Katie Maddox

Katie worked with the lab starting in September 2014. As a CURO fellow, Katie studied the impacts of an invasive alga on blue crab foraging behavior.

image of Sydney Bourget

Sydney Bourget

She was an Ecology student who worked with the lab starting September 2014. As a CURO fellow, she studied the effects of physical factors on infaunal species on oyster reefs.

image of Kat Clancy

Kat Clancy

Kat was an Ecology and Marine Science major who is working in the lab.  Kat is studying and studied respiration rates of the marsh periwinkle, Littorina irrorata. www.rebeccaatkins.com

Clarissa Keisling

Clarissa, was an Ecology student, who started wowrking with us in Summer 2016 on a project studying oyster larval dynamics. As a CURO fellow, she studied the distribution of microplastics across an estuary and led a publication in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin.

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Emma Dickinson

Emma was an Ecology and Music double major. She studied coastal ecosystems and community interactions.

image of Benjamin Edelman

Benjamin Edelman

Benjamin was a Biology Major with a Marine Science emphasis. He helped help map the biodiversity of oyster reefs across an estuary and conducted a Senior Honor thesis on the invasive freshwater clam, Corbicula fluminea.

image of Adam Greer

Adam Greer

Adam was a Genetics and Chinese double major, who worked with the lab measuring oyster larval dynamics. He started with the lab in Fall 2016.

Diane Klement

Diane was an Art and Ecology student working on a project studying the impacts of an invasive alga on marsh grass health. She started with the lab in Fall 2016. In 2019 she earned national recognition as a Udall Scholar.

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Kelly Mayes

She was an Ecology and journalism student who helped with a project studying the impact of snail grazing on marsh grass health.  She started with the lab in Fall 2016. In summer 2019 she was awarded a AAAS Mass Media Science Fellowship.


image of Katie O’Shields

Katie O’Shields

Katie was an Ecology major interested in communicating science to broad audiences. She worked in the lab studying the diets and grazing patterns of the marsh periwinkle.

image of Hend Rasheed

Hend Rasheed

Hend was a Genetics major.  She worked on a project studying how temperature changes affect grazing in the Marsh Periwinkle, Littoraria irrorata.


image of Claire Sammons

Claire Sammons

Claire was an Ecology student, who helped in the lab starting Spring 2017. She worked on a project studying the interactions between marsh grass and mangroves.

image of Jackson Sanville

Jackson Sanville

Jackson worked with us studying biodiversity on oyster reefs.

image of Camille Womack

Camille Womack

Camille helped our lab study oyster reef biodiversity on an estuarine scale. She also worked on a project on the coast on shrimp disease.

Graduate Students

Jeff Beauvais (Ph.D., 2023), 2023 NOAA John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship.

Kristen Zemaitis (M.S., 2023), Environmental Educator, Cumberland Is., GA.

John Meyer (M.S.,2005), 2006 NOAA John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow. Director of Science Communications, College of the Environment, Univ. of Washington.

Blaine Griffen (Ph.D., 2007), Assoc. Professor, Dept. of Biology, Brigham Young University.

Aaren Freeman (Ph.D., 2007), Assoc. Professor, Dept of Biology, Adelphi University, NY.

April Blakeslee (Ph.D., 2007), Asst. Professor, Dept of Biology, East Carolina University.

Laura Page (M.S., 2009), Middle school science teacher, Watertown, MA.

Irit Altman (Ph.D., 2009), Asst. Research Scientist at Boston University.

Wan-Jean Lee (Ph.D., 2012), 2012 NOAA John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow.  Research Scientist with the National Climate Change Secretariat, Singapore.

William McDowell (Ph.D., 2014), Assistant Professor, Merrimack College.

Virginia Schutte (Ph.D., 2014), Science Communication Coordinator, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON).

Jennafer Malek (Ph.D., 2015), 2016 NOAA John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow. Communications and Policy Specialist, NOAA Marine Debris Program and Research Fellow, Marine Mammal Commission.

Carolyn Keogh (Ph.D., 2016), Lecturer and Undergraduate Coordinator at the Odum School of Ecology, Univ. of Georgia.

Alyssa Gehman (Ph.D., 2016), NSF postdoctoral Fellow, at Univ. of British Columbia with Dr. Chris Harley.

Linsey Haram (Ph.D., 2018), Postdoctoral Research Fellow, at Smithsonian Environmental Research Center with Dr. Greg Ruiz, and collaborator Dr. Jim Carlton.

Alex Lee (no degree, 2016-2019), community ecology and parasitology. Studied in the IDEAS (disease ecology) program. Research Scientist with California Environmental Resource Division. 

Rachel Smith (Ph.D., 2019), NatureNet Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Virginia with Dr. Max Castorani.


Emlyn Resetarits (2022), Assistant Professor, Dept of Biology, Barnard College, NY.

Lauren Pintor (2010), Assoc. Professor, School of Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio State University.

Heidi Weiskel (2011), Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW)

Safra Altman (2012), Army Corp of Engineers, Vicksburg, MS

Jayna Devore (2013), postdoc at the University of Sydney with Dr. Richard Shine.

Paula Pappalardo (2015), Research Fellow at the Smithsonian Institute

Visiting Scholars

Sara Rodriguez (visiting postdoc, 2020), from Universidad Austral, Valdivia, Chile, with funding from the Chilean Science Foundation. 

Enjian Chen (visiting Ph.D. student, 2017-2018), from Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China, with funding from the Chinese Scholarship Council

Mel Bishop (visiting colleague, 2013), from Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

Jeff Wright (visiting colleague, 2012), from Australian Maritime College,  Launceston , Australia 

Craig Sherman (visiting colleague, 2011), from Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia 

Paul Gribben (visiting colleague, 2009), from University of Technology, Sydney, Australia