Department of Biological Sciences

Graduate Student Research

Take a look at Mycoblogs written by our microbiology grad students!

alphabetical order by last name


  Rebecca Arns (Advisor Dr. Brian Peer)

 "My research is dealing with the Brown-headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater, an obligate brood parasite in North America. The goal of my study is to determine if cowbirds act as vectors for bacteria to a common host."



Shaina Bengtson (Advisor Dr. Jeanette Thomas)

"For my thesis research, I am comparing behavioral differences in 6 bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, at Brookfield Zoo during investigation of novel metal objects. The goal of my study is to investigate whether age, sex, or individual characteristics play a role in determining which dolphin in the pod would investigate a new object in their environment."



brookeBrooke Bryant (Advisor Dr. Tim Spier)

"My thesis research regards fish alarm pheromone behavioral responses in native minnow and darter populations of Illinois, studying Red Shiners, Blunt-Nosed Minnows, Orangethroat Darters, and Johnny Darters. I am interested in determining the effects of varying water conditions on the behavioral alarm pheromone response."





DeaverNoland R. Deaver (Advisor Dr. Andrea Porras-Alfaro)

"My research is concerned with the diversity and distribution of fungi in habitats ranging from arid grasslands, temperate forests, and invertebrate hosts."






Ann Gaydosh (Advisor Dr. Jeanette Thomas)

 "At the Niabi Zoo, I have completed Volunteer, Ambassador, and Docent Training, and am working on my WIU Practicum with the Petting Zoo and Birds."



Kimberly Gillespie (Advisor Dr. Shawn Meagher)

"My research is focusing on parasites (flukes) that infect bluegill found in Spring Lake here in Macomb. The focus of the project is to compare parasite loads in fish captured the fall versus fish in the spring. I will be looking at two consecutive years (fall of 2010 and spring of 2011, and then fall of 2011 and spring of 2012), with the hypothesis that higher parasite loads will be found in the fall fish because parasitized fish will not be healthy enough to overwinter successfully and will die, resulting in smaller parasite loads in the spring fish."



Brandon Gross (Advisor Dr. Jeanette Thomas)

"My research investigates the variables influencing habitat choices of the North American river otter. I am using trail cameras to conduct point counts of otters along the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge and comparing relative counts against particular characteristics of each habitat."



 Rebekah Haun (Advisor Dr. Sean Jenkins)

"My thesis project is a comparison of fish population structure and community between Pool 19 and Pool 20 on the Mississippi River using electroshocking techniques."



  Laura Hemphill (Advisor Dr. Sue Hum-Musser)

"My research is studying the effect of ozone on seed germination."



KiddShavaun Kidd (Advisor Dr. Jeanette Thomas)

"I am in the process of wrapping up an anthrozoological research study focused on identifying specific reasons that motivate potential pet owners to choose shelters rather than breeders or pet stores for the source of their animal companions."





  Kenny Kusimba (Advisor Dr. Susan Meiers)

 "My research is focused on understanding how the algal community changes (species composition and relative abundance) at Emiquon, a Nature Conservancy project to restore Thompson and Flag Lakes back to their former wetland status."




katieKatie Lamagdeleine (Advisor Dr. Ken McCravy)

"I am studying how conservation management techniques affect the species composition of ground beetles across a chronosequence of restored prairie at Nachusa Grasslands. I hope to eventually see how the re-introduction of bison in this area affects the ground beetle community."





jeffJeff Liles (Advisor Dr. Sue Hum-Musser)

 "I am researching the effects of pathogenic bacteria on the pest Helicoverpa zea.  Specifically, I am examining how key digestive and immune response genes are regulated in response to exposure from Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Serratia marcescens."






AlyssaAlyssa Lochen (Advisor Dr. Jeanette Thomas)

"During an internship at the International Crane Foundation (ICF) in Baraboo, WI, I developed and implemented a standardized enrichment protocol for the captive crane flock. I then gathered enrichment evaluation data and examined the results for trends among specific crane species and individual cranes. My project has contributed to the husbandry practices of the ICF and has expanded information regarding avian enrichment for the greater zoo community."




Joseph Lucas (Advisor Dr. Scott Holt)

"I am studying ways to improve the transformation efficiency of bacteria of the genus Leukonostoc. Several species of Leukonostoc produce unique polysaccharides, but study of how these complex carbohydrates are produced is hindered by
low transformation efficiency. My research is focused on remedying this problem using electroporation and cell wall treatments."



keshabKeshab Mainal
i (Advisor Dr. Sue Hum-Musser)

 "I am particularly interested in the genetic basis of susceptibility and resistance to antimicrobial agents.  I am studying the effect of bacteria on the gene expression of the corn ear worm."





mike  Michael Mandru (Advisor Dr. Brian Peer)

"My thesis research looks at coevolution between the Brown-headed Cowbird, an avian brood parasite in North America, and its grassland hosts.  I am investigating any mimicry seen of host eggs and nests by Brown-headed Cowbird eggs.  This study focuses on possible parallels seen in ultraviolet (UV) light reflectance."




samiSami McCarrel (Advisor Dr. Shawn Meagher)

"My research concerns the life cycle of “White Grub”, a parasitic fluke found in Spring Lake. This worm requires several hosts to complete its life cycle, and I am interested in infection patterns in snails and how that is related to infection in fish hosts."








desmondOsatuyi (Desmond) Mobayode  (Advisor Dr. Sue Hum-Musser)

 "I am studying the effect of different strains of bacteria on Helicoverpa zea caterpillars and gene expression."






breannBreAnn Nesteby (Advisor Dr. Susan Romano)

 "My research is looking at the effects of Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea) management, and the ecology of the federally threatened Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid (Platanthera leucophaea). I want to understand the effects of Reed Canary Grass management on population dynamics of the orchid."






myrthaMyrtha Pierre (Advisor Dr. Rich Musser)

 "My research focuses on the genetic expression of caterpillars that feed on fungus-treated maize plants."






katrinaKatrina Sandona (Advisor Dr. Andrea Porras-Alfaro)

 "I am working with the fungus Beaveria bassiana and determining its effects as both a pesticide and a fungal endophyte."





aftonAfton Schwalm (Advisor Dr. Jeanette Thomas)

"My research is focusing on recording and analyzing California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) vocalizations according to their health condition, duration of stay in rehabilitation, age, and sex at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA. My goal is to categorize their vocalizations by using spectrograms, power spectra, and oscillograms of their vocalizations.  I hope this research can be used to better understand wild and captive California sea lion health condition using noninvasive procedures."





Stephanie Stenger (Advisor Dr. Laura Barden-Gabbei)

 "My focus deals with the development science resources for the education of exceptional children, specifically children with behavioral, learning, and attention disorders in grades 6-12 dealing with the Next Generation National Science Education Standards."




terriTerry Tobias (Advisor Dr. Andrea Porras-Alfaro)

 "My research focuses on plant-fungal interactions and the study of fungal diversity.  Specifically, I am examining the symbiotic associations formed between endophytic fungi and plants.  I am interested in the mechanism of transmission and function of fungal endophytes."






jasonJason Tuter (Advisor Dr. Rich Musser)

  "I am researching the symbiotic relationship between the fungal endophyte, Phialocephala fortinii and corn. Specifically I am interested in the transcriptome analysis of the corn to find out what genes are being stimulated and repressed in response to exposure to the fungus."






  Joseph Van Dyke (Advisor Dr. Ken Mcravy)

  "My research examines the evolutionary pressures that necessitate the development of larger, more complex mushroom bodies and their associated subcompartments in social and solitary Hymenoptera, specifically in the species Apis mellifera, Bombus impatiens, Polistes fuscatus, and Vespa germanica."



David Wade (Advisor Dr. Tom Alton)

"My research is dedicated to preventing extinction." 


Here is my previous research:  The New England Cottontail

Current research  -- Dr. Alton and David's research  on Prairie Gray Fox, the Plains Spotted Skunk, and a Distinct Population Segment of the Mearn's Eastern Cottontail in East-Central Illinois and Western Indiana to be listed as  Endangered or Threatened Species.



samanthaSamantha Workman (Advisor Dr. Meshack Afitlhile)

  "I use the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana to evaluate the role of a major chloroplast receptor atToc159 in cold-induced lipid synthesis and desaturation. I hypothesize that the atToc159 receptor is a major route in the import of enzymes that are required in lipid biosynthesis and desaturation."