LABORATORY FOR MICROBIAL & ENVIRONMENTAL GENOMICS
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Jeffrey Turner

About
Born in Louisville, Kentucky and raised just south of Atlanta, Georgia, I am now happy to call the Gulf of Mexico (aka The Third Coast) home. Prior to my arrival at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi, I acquired a deep appreciation for our world’s oceans sailing the Bearing Sea and Arctic Ocean with the US Coast Guard. Afterward, I uncovered my fascination for all things microbial at the University of Georgia’s Odum School of Ecology (http://www.ecology.uga.edu). Following the defense of my dissertation, I boarded a flight to Seattle where I studied genetics and genomics as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Washington’s School of Oceanography (http://armbrustlab.ocean.washington.edu). The influence of oceans on human health and well-being has become a central theme in my research and teaching interests. This broad theme intersects with a diversity of topics including but not limited to emerging infectious diseases, harmful algal blooms, coral reef ecology, natural resource management, habitat preservation, ocean acidification and global climate change.

Education
Ph.D., University of Georgia, Odum School of Ecology, 2010. Thesis adviser: Erin K. Lipp. Thesis title: Environmental factors and reservoir shifts contribute to the seasonality of pathogenic Vibrio species.

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Lee Pinnell

About
Born and raised in Orillia, Ontario, I grew up hundreds of miles (imperial units!) from the ocean, but through frequent trips to the coast I became fascinated with it. Despite this, I attended the even further inland University of Waterloo. Over my four years I was lucky enough to perform research on Ontario’s Great Lakes and take a marine biology field course in the Bahamas. It was there I met my future MSc. supervisor and subsequently became interested in microbes. I stayed in Waterloo for my MSc., where I focused on microbial cellulose genes in Arctic tundra soils. During these two years I gained a true appreciation for the remarkable significance of the microbial world. After my time in Waterloo I started work as a technician at SickKids hospital in Toronto where I spent two years researching the gut microbiota . Though I thoroughly enjoyed these experiences, I decided that if I was going to make research a lifelong pursuit, I needed to fuse my interest in the ocean with my scientific endeavours. A PhD. in the Marine Biology program at TAMUCC is the result of that fusion. Briefly, my research will involve incubating PET plastic pellets in the Laguna Madre and using metagenomics to characterize the microbial community that colonizes and potentially biodegrades these pellets.

Education
M.Sc., University of Waterloo, Department of Biology, 2011. Thesis adviser: Josh D. Neufeld. Thesis title: Targeted enrichment of cellulase genes using stable-isotope probing and metagenomics.

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Nicole Elledge

About
Born in Mesa, Arizona and raised in Southlake, Texas, I completed my bachelor’s degree at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  I majored in microbiology, cell, and molecular biology with a microbial ecology option.  During my time as an undergraduate at OSU, I was able to gain valuable experience in several microbiology laboratories.  I completed my senior honor’s thesis in a microbial ecology lab (
http://youssef.okstate.edu/) where I studied anaerobic fungi as potential sources of biofuels.  I focused on optimizing novel anaerobic fungal growth and experimentation techniques.  During my summer breaks, I worked at Sea Life Aquarium, where my passion for marine biology developed.  Since the beginning of my undergraduate experience, I have been fascinated with the effects that oceanic microorganisms can have on human health.  I decided the best way for me to pursue this area of study would be to complete my PhD at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.  My research at TAMU-CC will initially be focused on bacterial source tracking of specific molecular markers found in fecal pollution in Corpus Christi and Oso Bay.

Education
B.S., Oklahoma State University, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, 2016.

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James Tallman

About
Born in San Diego, California and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii and San Antonio, Texas, I’m no stranger to the ocean. For most of my life, I have wanted to be a marine biologist. During my time as an undergraduate at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, I worked in Dr. Chris Bird’s Laboratory of Applied Molecular Ecology & Evolution for Conservation & Management. The work I did there fueled my research interests at the time, which revolved around the molecular ecology of diadromous fishes. After reading many articles and research methods dealing with the “omics” sciences, I became particularly interested in studies involving bacteria and other microbes. My newfound interests in comparative bacterial genomics (coupled with a tremendous lasting appreciation for microbes I acquired earlier in my time at TAMU-CC) have led me to pursue a future in microbiology. For my thesis, I am using metagenomics and bioinformatics to investigate the prevalence of bacterial antibiotic resistance in Texas coastal bays.

Education

B.S., Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Department of Life Sciences, 2014.

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Amanda Macías

About
Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, I am currently an undergraduate student at Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. I am a biology major with an emphasis on animal biology. I am a member of Beta Beta Beta (biological honor society), Golden Key International Honor Society, and SEEDS (Strategies for Ecological Education, Diversity and Sustainability). I am pursing a career in wildlife conservation. Wildlife conservation has always been of great interest to me. I want to be part of the efforts to give some relief to disappearing species/habitats caused by human interference. I had a taste of conservation work through a program called EcoTeach where we traveled though Costa Rica to areas where restoration projects were underway. It was a great experience that helped raise my interest in a career in conservation. This past summer I was also able to travel to Thailand with International Student Volunteer. I spent a few weeks working at Ran Tong Elephant Rescue with other volunteers from around the world. Working with elephants was an incredible experience which only strengthened my desire to study conservation. Besides conservation, I have always had an interest in research. Working in the lab, I am finally able to experience what research entails.  Currently, I am working on writing a journal article describing my research which looked at the relatedness between two strains of Vibrio antiquarius. I plan on attending graduate school to obtain a master’s degree in wildlife biology/conservation.

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Emille Moreno

About
Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, I am majoring in biology with an emphasis in microbiology. I became interested in microbiology from Richard Preston’s book The Hot Zone.  From then on I decided to futher my education within microbiology during my time at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. I decided to take full advantage of my time in Corpus to really explore research opportunities of aquatic microbiology. I came to respect the dyanmic interactions of microbes and humans after having read a variety of protocols and research journals involving the two. My research involves the “omics” sciences with emergent strains of Vibrio parahaemolyticus and their impact on human health. I plan to continue my education within microbiology towards my Masters and then towards a Ph.D.

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Marci Parks

About
I was raised in Sonora, Texas, but moved away from the tumbleweeds to the gulf coast!  I am majoring in biochemistry and plan to attain my BS here at the Island University (Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi.)  In my few years here as an undergraduate, I have become increasingly interested in the “omics”. This interest led me to an undergraduate research position in Dr. Jeffrey Turner’s lab. In my research, I have learned many things about comparative bacterial genomics and gained skills needed to sequence and assemble a bacterial genome. I presented a poster of my research at ASLO’s Ocean Science Meeting. Currently, I am working on publishing the genome of a highly virulent Vibrio parahemolyticus strain (805) isolated from the marine environment. In the future, I would like to work in personalized medicine or industrial chemistry. I am excited to see what opportunities will arise!

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Devin Lovato

About
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and raised in Belton, Texas, I’m a third year undergraduate at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi pursuing a biochemistry degree. As an aspiring medical professional, I was interested in expanding my knowledge of life sciences and found a research opportunity in my best interest. To this end, in a unique collaboration between Dr. Turner and Dr. Billiot, I’m investigating the antibacterial properties of novel surfactants. As my research career lengthened, I found my interest in it only deepening. After my recent poster presentation at the national American Chemical Society meeting in March of 2016, I have doubled efforts to execute further assays to make publishable findings. My current work includes analyzing the antibacterial properties of dipeptide amino acid-based surfactants. In future studies, I plan to investigate the mechanism underlying surfactant inhibition in Gram-positive bacterial species.

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