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Current Graduate Students

 

Mitch Barazowski, B.S. in Animal Ecology, Iowa State University

Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford

Research Interests: I am interested in the spatial ecology and behavior of reptiles.

Email: mbarazowski@patriots.uttyler.edu

 

Erin Bertram, B.S., Central Michigan University

Advisor: Dr. Lance Williams

Research Interests: Aquatic Conservation Ecology and Biology with a thesis on freshwater unionid mussel

conservation in determining viable host-fish species for state-threatened mussel species.

Email: ebertram@patriots.uttyler.edu

 

Larrimy Brown, B.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. John Placyk

Research Interests: Aquatic Ecology, Crayfish, Evolutionary Biology, and Conservation

Email: lbrown29@patriots.uttyler.edu

 

Brianna Ciara, B.S., Ball State University

Advisor: Dr. Josh Banta and Dr. Lance Williams

Research Interests: Aquatic ecology and conservation, most specifically niche modeling and interactions

between aquatic macroinvertebrate and fish communities.

Email: bri.ciara3@gmail.com

 

Alex DeMilto, B.S. Arizona State University

Advisor: Dr. Jon Seal

Research Interests: Entomology, with emphasis in myrmecology, symbiosis, ecology and insect curation

Email: ademilto@patriots.uttyler.edu

 

Steve Hein, B.A. McDaniel College

Advisor: Dr. John Placyk

Research Interests: Herpetology, Ecology, Systematics, and Ecological Modeling

Email: stevenrhein@gmail.com

 

Kayla Key, B.S. The University of Tennessee at Martin

Advisor: Dr. John Placyk

Research Interests: Ecology, Conservation, Landscape Ecology, and Conservation Management

Email: kkey3@patriots.uttyler.edu

 

Lauren Lambeth, B.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Blake Bextine

Research Interests: Molecular detection of insect transmission and vector relationships of phytoplasma in

palm diseases; Texas Phoenix Palm Decline and Florida Lethal Yellowing

Email: llambeth@patriots.uttyler.edu

 

Amalia Lopez, B.S. and Licentiate in Biology, Universidad del Valle de Guatemala

Advisor: Dr. Blake Bextine

Research Interests: Molecular Biology, Agricultural Pests, and Diseases

Email: alopez20@patriots.uttyler.edu

 

Bidisha Pal, B.Tech, Amity University, India

Advisor: Dr. Ali Azghani

Research Interests: I am currently interested in the molecular mechanisms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa

infections , with specific focus on the mechanism of Pseudomonas elactase induced activation of Rho

signaling proteins and its effects on paracellular epithelial permeability.

Email: bpal@patriots.uttyler.edu

 

Edith Plants-Paris, B.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford

Research Interests: Population ecology and conservation of freshwater mussels

Email: eplantsparis@patriots.uttyler.edu

 

Julia Potocnjak, B.S., Biology

Advisor: Dr. Blake Bextine

Research Interests: Vector biology and Infectious diseases

Email: jpotocnjak@patriots.uttyler.edu

 

Chissa Rivaldi, B.S. in Biology, The University of Texas at Austin

Advisor: Dr. Blake Bextine

Research Interests: Bacterial community and mitochondrial genome sequencing of the Kissing Bug

( Triatoma )

Email: crivaldi@patriots.uttyler.edu

 

Megan Rudolph, B.S.

Advisor: Dr. Blake Bextine

Email: mrudolph@patriots.uttyler.edu

 

Patrick Rydzak, B.S. Marine Biology, Texas A&M University at Galveston

Advisor: Dr. Blake Bextine

Research Interests: Virology, Entomology, Genetics, and Microbiology

Email: prydzak@patriots.uttyler.edu

 

Melody Sain, B.S., The University of Tennessee at Martin

Advisor: Dr. Josh Banta

Research Interests: I am interested in Botany, niche modeling and genetics. Currently I working on

distinguishing the Neches River Rose Mallow ( Hibiscus dasycalyx ) from its congeners using genetic and

niche modeling methods.

Email: msain@patriots.uttyler.edu

 

Bijaya Sharma, B.S. (Biotechnology), Purbanchal University, Nepal

Advisor: Dr. Blake Bextine

Research Interests: I am interested in working in the field of down regulation of potential gene through

RNAi technology.

Email: sharmabijaya1@gmail.com , bsharma2@patriots.uttyler.edu

 

Gretta M. Sharp, B.S., in Bioenvironmental Sciences & Soil Chemistry, Texas A&M College Station

Advisor: Dr. Blake Bextine

Research Interests: Microbiology, Biotechnology, Bacteriology, Mycology, and Applied Chemistry

Email: gsharp4@patriots.uttyler.edu

 

Lindsey St. Clair, B.S., Austin College

Advisor: Dr. Lance Williams

Research Interests: My research interests include conservation, restoration and population ecology. I have

worked on blackland prairie restoration both on the ecological and microbiological side and now I am working

on mussel conservation through Dr. Lance Williams’ Lab.

Email: lstclair2@patriots.uttyler.edu

 

Daniel Symonds, B.S., SUNY - ESF

Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford

Research Interests: Freshwater mussel ecology and genetics

Email: dsymonds2@patriots.uttyler.edu

 

 

Former Graduate Students

 

2014

Austin Alleman , B.S., The University of Texas of Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Srini Kambhampati

Thesis: Blattabacterium Genome: Structure, Function and Evolution.

 

Justin Dalrymple , B.S. in biology, Boston College

Advisor: Dr. Josh Banta

Thesis:

 

Kurt Felix , B.S. The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Lance Williams

Thesis:

 

Nate Marshall , B.S. in zoology, The Ohio State University

Advisor: Dr. John Placyk

Thesis: Identification of potential fish hosts from wild populations of state-threatened East Texas

freshwater mussels using a molecular identification data set.

 

2013

Alex Arp, B.S., Kent State University (Zoology)

Advisor: Dr. Blake Bextine

Thesis: Bactericera cockerelii range expansion, Candidatus liberibacter solanaraerum detection and

microbial community analysis.

 

David Bakken , B.S., Indiana University

Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford

Thesis: Recruitment and survival of post-parasitic juvenile mussels in an East Texas river.

 

Anna Biesbrock , B.S., California State University, Fresno

Advisor: Dr. Blake Bextine

Thesis: Propagation of Homolodisca coagulate virus -01 Homoalodisca vitripennis cell culture

 

David Ford , B.S. Louisiana Scholar’s College

Advisor: Dr. Lance Williams

Thesis: Ground-truthing Maxent in East Texas Rivers.

 

Kirian Heffentrager , B.S., Penn State University (Wildlife and fisheries sciences)

Advisor: Dr. Lance Williams

Thesis: Utilizing Maxent in improve and explain a species distribution model for freshwater mussel

species in East Texas.

 

Kaitlyn Pettingill , B.S., University Wisconsin at Eau Claire

Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford

Thesis: Physiological consequeneces of compensatory growth: a look at snake species exhibiting sexual

size dimorphism.

 

2012

Omar Castillo , B.S. in Biology (Concentration: Microbiology), University of Texas at San Antonio

Advisor: Dr. Ali Azghani

Thesis: Cellular mechanisms of parthenogenesis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa .

 

Jeremy Chamberlain, B.S., in Biology from Iowa State University; M.S., The University of Texas at

Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford

Thesis: Stochastic life-history variation in populations of western ribbon snakes ( Thamnophis proximus ) in

East Texas.

 

Katie Chamberlain , B.S., in Animal Ecology from Iowa State University; M.S., The University of Texas

at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. John S. Placyk, Jr.

Thesis: Effects of the herbicide atrazine on the behavior of the checkered gartersnake ( Thamnophis

marcianus ).

 

Rebekah Chapman, B.S., Northern Michigan University; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Blake Bextine

Thesis: Population genetics of the potato Psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli .

 

Ashley Dunithan, B.S., Ball State University; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Lance Williams

Thesis: Using Ecological Niche Modeling to Predict Occurrence of Rare Fish and Unionid Mussels in East

Texas.

 

Daniel Goodding, B.S., Morningside College (Sioux City, IA); M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford

Thesis: Influence of substrate and hydraulic variables on habitat preferences of a sculptured and an

unsculptured freshwater mussel.

 

Bradley Martin, B.S., The University of Texas at Tyler; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. John S. Placyk, Jr.

Thesis: Molecular phylogenetics and phylogeography of the American box turtle ( Terrepene spp.).

 

Christopher S. Samuelson, B.A., Liberal Arts New School for Social Research N.Y. N.Y. ; M.S., The

University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Jim Koukl

Thesis: Movement patterns in resident and translocated Three-toed box turtles ( Terrepene caolina

triunguis ).

 

Julia Sonn , B.S., The University of Arkansas; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Troy Anderson

Thesis: Influence of Agricultural stream habitat alterations on mosquitos and amphibians: patterns,

processes , and predictions.

 

2011

Jamie L. Cantrell , B.S., University of Southern Mississippi; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. John Playck & Dr. Darrell Pogue

Thesis:

 

Henry L. Schreiber IV , B.S., in Cell and Molecular Biology from Tulane University; M.S., The

University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Blake R. Bextine

Thesis: Genetic analysis of the prophage regions of a phytopathogenic bacterium.

 

2010

Sheri A. Sanders, B.S., in Environmental Science & Management and Zoology, Michigan State

University; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. John Placyk

Thesis: Ecological, morphological and molecular phylogenetic analyses of the pseudogeographica

subgroup (Genus: Graptemys ).

 

Matthew J. Troia, B.S., University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Lance Williams

Thesis: Spatial and temporal variability in hydrogeomorphic conditions structure fish and mussel

assemblages on the upper Neches river.

 

2009

Iqbal Ahmed , B.S., University of Texas at Arlington; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Cliff Boucher

Thesis: The role of IcmP, a Pseudomonas aeruginosa insulin-cleaving metalloprotease, in respiratory

infection .

 

Curtis A. Clark , B.S., The University of Texas at Tyler; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Ali Azghani

Thesis: Mechanism of epithelial barrier disruption by Pseudomonas aeruginosa elastase .

 

Chase Hively , B.A., Carson-Newman College; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. James F. Koukl

Thesis: A comparative analysis of two turtle assemblages in an altered floodplain.

 

2008

Dawn Byars , B.S., Texas A&M University; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford

Thesis: Influences of diet and dam on age of maturation in African house snakes, Lamprophis fuliginosus .

 

Elizabeth Farley , B.S., University of Florida; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Darrell Pogue & Dr. Lance Williams

Thesis: Breeding ecology of Bachman’s sparrow ( Aimophila aestivalis ) in post oak savannah on Camp

Maxey, Lamar County, Texas.

 

David Kimberly , B.A., Otterbein College; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford

Thesis: Mercury and the physical performance of cottonmouths ( Agkistrodon piscivorous ).

 

Denise Lin , B.S., University of California, Davis; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Blake Bextine

Thesis: Putative Zebra Complex Pathogens Detection, Biotype Differentiation, and cDNA Library

Construction of Potato/Tomato Psyllid ( Bacteriera cockerelli ) in Texas

 

Jake A. Pruett , B.S., Middle Tennessee State University; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford

Thesis: Thermal ecology and habitat use of the western cottonmouth Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma

 

Danielle Tufts , B.S., University of California, Davis; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Drs. Blake Bextine and Darrell Pogue

Thesis: Identification of colony phenotype and potential biological control methods of Solenopsis invicata

buren (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) using molecular techniques.

 

2007

Andree Clark , B.S., The University of Texas at Tyler; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Cliff Boucher

Thesis: Role of the outer membrane protein OprQ in Pseudomonas aeruginosa virulence

 

Brian Jackson , B.S., University of California, Riverside; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Blake Bextine

Thesis: Impact of feeding behaviors on the transmission of Xylella fastidiosa by Homalodisca vitripennis

(Hemiptera, Cicadellidae).

 

Peixin Jiang, B.S.; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Blake Bextine

Thesis: Competition of two strains of Xyella fastidiosa in foregut of glassy-winged sharpshooter.

 

Jason Keyes, B.S. ; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Jim Koukl

Thesis: Evaluation of acclimation for repatriated three-toed box turtles ( Terrepene carolina triunguis ).

 

Melissa Nicholson, B.S. ; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Don Killebrew

Thesis: The effect of density and relative egg sac placement on the life history traits of green lynx spider

Peucetia viridans (Araneae, Oxyopidae).

 

Robert Jadin, B.S. ; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Ron Gutberlet

Thesis: Phylogeny of the Porthidium group (Squamata: serpentes: crotalinae) inferred from morphological

data .

 

2006

Jessica Coleman, B.S., The University of Texas at Tyler; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Ron Gutberlet

Thesis: Basking habits of map turtles (Emydidae: Graptemys ) along the Sabine River in East Texas.

 

Timothy R. Hunkapiller, B.S. ; M.S., The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford

Thesis: The effects of all-terrain vehicle use on the herpetofauna of an East Texas floodplain.

 

Stephan Lorenz, B.S., M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Darrell Pogue

Thesis: Effects of local and landscape habitat characteristics on wintering grassland birds in north central

Texas.

 

Allyson Modra, B.S., M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Ron Gutberlet

Thesis: Phylogeny of Bothrops , Bothriopsis , and Bothrocophias species (Serpentes: Viperidae: Crotalinae)

inferred from morphological data.

 

2005

David Bolanowski, B.S. M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Jim Koukl

Thesis: Habitat selection, movements and survival of translocated juvenile three-toed box turtles

( Terrepene carolina triunguis ).

 

2004

Vanessa Adams, B.S. M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Darrell Pogue

Thesis: Edge effects on reproductive success of bottomland forest birds.

 

Shelby Braman, B.S. M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Darrell Pogue

Thesis: A study of the occurrence, distribution, and effects of larval Protocalliphora (Diptera:

Calliphoridae ) on secondary cavity-nesting bird species.

 

Alan Byboth, B.S. M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford

Thesis: The influence of age on mating success in male gray treefrogs ( Hyla versicolor ).

 

Paul Hampton, B.S. M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford

Thesis: Effects of management techniques on amphibian and reptile populations in an East Texas

floodplain .

 

Casey Wieczorek, B.S. M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford

Thesis: A test of the fractional egg hypothesis using African house snakes, Lamprophis fuliginosus , that

vary in egg size.

 

2003

Roberto Brenes, B.S. M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford

Thesis: Movements and habitat selection of the Gulf Coast Waterdog ( Necturus beyeri : Proteidae) in East

Texas.

 

Brian Fontenot, B.S. M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Ron Gutberlet

Thesis: Molecular and morphological analysis of the taxonomic status of the East Texas toad, Bufo velatus .

 

Karen Rispin, B.S. M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Jim Koukl

Thesis: Habitat selection, movement patterns, and survival rate of hatchling three-toed box turtles,

Terrepene carolina triunguis .

 

2002

Matthew Gifford, B.S. M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Ron Gutberlet

Thesis: Cryptic diversity in the Ameiva chrysolaema species complex (Squamata: Teiidae) as revealed by

analysis of morphology and mitochondria DNA.

 

Milton Yacelga, B.S. M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford

Thesis: An investigation of optimal foraging theory in a natural setting in prey choice and patch use by

semi-aquatic snakes.

 

2001

Rita Mehta, B.S. M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford

Thesis: Prey-handling behavior in newly-hatched trinket snakes, Elaphe helena .

 

Rod Wittenberg, B.S. M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Ron Gutberlet

Thesis: A phylogenetic analysis of Bitis (Reptila: Squamata: Viperidae): recovering the evolutionary

history of Africa’s most diverse viper genus.

 

2000

Mark Doles, B.S. M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford

Thesis: The use of ephemeral pools of a managed floodplain by semi-aquatic snakes.

 

1999

Brad Low, B.S. M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. James Stewart

Thesis: Identification of a bacterium that grows in crystal violet using PCR and Base sequence analysis.

 

Peggy Parsons , B.S. M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Don Killebrew
Thesis: Aquatic arthropods of the Old Sabine Bottom Wildlife Management Area

 

1998

Susanne Alden, B.S. M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Lynn Sherrod

Thesis: Woody plant species diversity of the old Sabine bottom wildlife management area, Smith County,

Texas.

 

1997

Stacie Yarbough, B.S. M.S.; The University of Texas at Tyler

Advisor: Dr. Don Killebrew

Thesis: Biodivesity of the aquatic coleptera with an emphasis on the adult population dynamics of the

haliplidae at two East Texas sites.

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