#GradStudentLife – A GPMB Student Profile

Ever wonder what students do while working toward a Master of Science in Marine Biology?
Of course there are the classes, labs, tests, seminars, papers, work, studying, networking, etc…add in sample and data collection, data analysis, etc…oh yeah, and then there’s the thesis and defense!

Keilin Gamboa-Salazar is a third-year GPMB student getting ready to finish up the program and shared her research and goals with us.

Keilin is our resident international student from Costa Rica and works in the Reef Fish Section of the SCDNR. Her research focuses on the reproductive biology of Gag and Scamp Grouper. She is investigating the relationship between the number of egg-batches spawned per female, and the age and size of the fish. In addition, she is modeling the probability of spawning for a female, influenced by the age or size of the fish, as well as  any associated environmental variables. This information will shed light on what variables can influence spawning with the ultimate goal of having a better understanding of the reproductive output of the fish stock, and incorporating this knowledge into the regional stock assessments. Keilin first got interested in this research because of the possibility of finding information which would lead to actual change in the way that fisheries are managed, and in that way have an impact on ocean conservation. When not looking through a microscope, Keilin highly enjoys going on research cruises up to 100 miles offshore, where you can see absolutely nothing but water in the horizon. She also enjoys getting to play with all sorts of fishes, and other critters when processing the samples for the Reef Fish lab. She hopes to develop a career in the fisheries which involves offshore cruises, with the ultimate goal of working for the conservation of the oceans. Keilin is currently working on finishing data analyses and writing her thesis, so look out for a thesis defense announcement in January!

Keilin with one of those other critters

Keilin showing off a Snowy Grouper


#GradStudentLife – A GPMB Student Profiles are written and compiled by second-year GPMB student Elizabeth Gugliotti

SCDNR Open House 2017

The SCDNR Open House was this past Saturday, October 21. Every two years SCDNR invites the public to meet and talk with marine biologists, fisheries managers, and educators at the Marine Resources Center plus their partners at the College of Charleston, Hollings Marine Lab, NIST and NOAA.
Guests learned about marine science with informational booths as well as tutorials, tours, crafts and fun family-friendly activities.
We are happy to be a partner for this event and had a great day meeting the community!

GPMB students hosted a touch tank and offered fun crafts for the kids.

GPMB students also had a bake sale and raffle to raise funds for the MBGSA in support of student travel for conferences and events.

Guests were invited inside to see some of the resources of the lab and experience hands-on activities.
Faculty and students presented preserved sharks and fish, live plankton samples and the entire collections room of over 100,000 preserved fish and invertebrate specimens!

Thanks to everyone who made the event a success! It was a great day and we are already looking forward to the next one!

21st Annual Student Research Colloquium

The 21st Annual Student Research Colloquium was held on September 23, 2017. We had another successful event with oral and poster presentations from our Graduate Program in Marine Biology students as well as a graduate student from The Citadel.

Presentations were followed by the keynote address given by Dr. Billie Swalla, Director, Friday Harbor Laboratories, Washington University.

The event was closed with a Lowcountry Boil and introduction of the new GPMB students.

The purpose of the colloquium is three-fold:

  • It gives students the opportunity to present their research in a professional setting and receive feedback from judges and audience members.
  • The presentations are a showcase of the research activities performed by GPMB students and faculty affiliated with the program.
  • Finally, the colloquium is an opportunity for students and faculty to interact and talk about the research activities they are interested in.

You can view the full program, including presentation abstracts here.

2017 Presentation Awards

Congratulations to this year’s presentation winners!

Oral Presentation – 1st Place: Elizabeth Underwood “Investigation of the Salinity Tolerance of the Invasive Island Apple Snail in South Carolina.”

(L to R: Keynote Speaker Dr. Billie Swalla, Underwood, Dr. Karen Burnett, Sigma Xi)

Oral Presentation – 2nd Place: Rachel Leads “Occurrence, Fate, and Effects of Microplastics in the Charleston Harbor Estuary, South Carolina.”

(L to R: Keynote Speaker Dr. Billie Swalla, Leads, Dr. Karen Burnett, Sigma Xi)

Poster Presentation – 1st Place: Teresa Popp “The Reproductive Biology and Ecological Impacts of an Invasive Crab, Petrolisthes armatus

(L to R: Keynote Speaker Dr. Billie Swalla, Popp, Dr. Paul Nolan, Charleston Audubon Society)

Poster Presentation – 2nd Place: Emily Welling “Energetic Response to Feedinga nd Temperature in Juvenile Red Drum, Scianeops ocellatus

(L to R: Keynote Speaker Dr. Billie Swalla, Welling, Dr. Paul Nolan, Charleston Audubon Society)


Another great Student Research Colloquium in the books

We would like to thank Dr. Billie Swalla for being our Keynote Speaker!

Thanks also go out to all of the student presenters, committees, faculty and staff who made this event a success!



GPMB third-year student Nathan Baker begins his oral presentation titled: TEMPORAL CHANGES IN SOUTH ATLANTIC OCEAN FISH BIODIVERSITY.

Keynote Speaker Dr. Billie Swalla with Poster Presenters

Keynote Speaker Dr. Billie Swalla with Oral Presenters

Lowcountry Boil at the SCDNR Outdoor Classroom

Lowcountry Boil at the SCDNR Outdoor Classroom



Hurricane Irma

Grice Marine Lab was prepared for the worst and made it through Hurricane Irma safely.
The College shut down at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, 9/8/17 and students were evacuated from campus (including Grice dorms) by 6:00 p.m.

What exactly does “prepared” mean for GML?
This is some of the preparations that were started earlier in the week and completed Friday morning:

  • Data backups completed
  • Files secured
  • All boats secured on higher ground and truck moved to a secure location
  • All outdoor equipment and materials secured
  • Hurricane shutters installed on East side of building
  • All non-essential office and lab computers and electrical equipment unplugged, moved away from windows and off floors and covered with plastic
  • Equipment in classrooms, computer lab and conference room unplugged, covered with plastic and secured
  • Collections Room secured
  • Refrigerators, freezers and equipment holding live animals are verified on emergency power

The storm hit the Lowcountry in earnest on Monday, 9/11/17, bringing wind, rain, and storm surge. The afternoon and early evening brought tornado watches and warnings. Much of Fort Johnson was flooded and lost power, but the GML building did not sustain any damage.

The grounds, specifically the Grice Green Teaching Gardens, will need some care after being flooded in salt water for hours.
The Grice Green Teaching Gardens Facebook page has before-and-after photos of the area as well as explanations of the effects on various plants.

Classes are in session today and we are happy to welcome back students, faculty, and staff!



2017 Fort Johnson REU Program

Grice Marine Lab hosted ten students for the 2017 Fort Johnson Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program. They arrived May 31st, hit the ground running, worked for ten weeks, and closed the program with exceptional presentations on August 9th. Each intern was paired with a mentor on the Fort Johnson campus to develop and execute a research project on the program theme of “Marine Organism Health: Resilience and Response to Environmental Change.” Along the way, the interns learned how to share their research in weekly workshops on science communication led by Carolyn Sotka. The program also included lectures, field trips and professional training for careers in science.

Here are the interns, their home institution and mentor lab
(click to enlarge)

  • Cecilia Bueno (Lewis & Clark College). The effects of salinity on sperm function and fertilization in Squirrel Treefrogs (Hyla squirella).
    Mentor: Allison Welch, PhD (CofC)
  • Killian Campbell (Eastern Washington University). The role of heat shock proteins 70 and 90 in tolerating abiotic stressors in the seaweeds Gracilaria vermiculophylla and Ulva lactuca. Mentors: Erik Sotka, PhD and Ben Flanagan (CofC)
  • Hailey Conrad (Rutgers University). Genetic variation in resistance to ocean acidification during larval development in a northern population of the sea urchin Arbacia punctulata.
    Mentor: Robert Podolsky, PhD (CofC)
  • Meagan Currie (Swarthmore College). A toxicological investigation of the effects of 4-nonylphenol on the coral Acropora cervicornis.
    Mentors: Cheryl Woodley, PhD and Natasha White, PhD (NOAA)
  • Christine Hart (Clemson University). Dynamics of benthic diatom communities: patterns in biomass and composition.
    Mentors: Craig Plante, PhD and Kristy Hill-Spanik, MS (CofC)
  • Deanna Hausman (U. of Texas at Austin). Toxic effects of oil and UV light on the estuarine shrimp Palaemonetes pugio.
    Mentors: Marie Delorenzo, PhD and Paul Pennington, PhD (NOAA)
  • Melanie Herrera (U. of Maryland, College Park). Comparison of fish populations in dense and sparse assemblages of the invasive seaweed Gracilaria vermiculophylla.
    Mentors: Tony Harold, PhD and Mary Ann McBrayer (CofC)
  • Kady Palmer (Eckerd College). Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) in plasma of the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus).
    Mentor: John Bowden, PhD (NIST)
  • Emily Spiegel (Bryn Mawr College). Getting in the mood: the effect of environmental stress on the reproduction and productivity of a polar diatom.
    Mentors: Peter Lee, PhD and Nicole Schanke, MS (CofC)
  • Brian Wuertz (Warren Wilson College). Investigating the potential of dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DOSS) to promote inflammatory response in macrophage.
    Mentor: Demetri Spyropoulos, PhD (MUSC)

Visit the blog written by the interns to read about the projects and see their progression over the summer: Marine Organism Health: Resilience and Response to Environmental Change

Many thanks to Bob Podolsky, Director, Ft. Johnson Summer REU Program, College of Charleston and Carolyn Sotka, Science Communication Workshop Series, Ft. Johnson REU Program.

Thanks also go to all the mentors and contributing partner institutions at Ft. Johnson: the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).

This program is supported by NSF Award No. DBI-1359079

Congrats and great job 2017 Fort Johnson REU Interns!


Forensic Scientist Brings CSI to GML

Grice Marine Lab recently hosted forensic microbiologist Sarah Seepaulsingh, PhD candidate from Fordham University.

Here is a summary from Sarah about her study:

“I am a forensic microbiologist using the necrobiome, specifically bacterial and fungal community changes, to estimate postmortem interval. Using swine carcasses as a proxy for human remains, I am analyzing epinecrotic community succession (microbial communities residing in or living on the surface of decomposing remains) at various sites along the coast of the eastern United States. Ultimately, my goal is to compare the temporal changes of microbial surface communities during decomposition along a gradient from tropical south Florida to continental southern New York. In addition to a latitudinal study, I will also look at seasonal differences by comparing between winter and summer. The purpose of my research is to add to the growing collection of postmortem microbial studies thus contributing to the ultimate goal of reliably determining postmortem interval in human death investigations. ”

Sarah used three locations on the grounds and hopes to return in the summer for another round to add to her data.