UT Tyler

UT Tyler Department of Biology

Current Graduate Students

Mattea Allert, B.S. in Biology with an Emphasis in Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Advisor: Dr. Jon Seal
Research Interests: I am interested in looking at different components of the symbiotic relationship of fungus-gardening ants.
Email: mallert@patriots.uttyler.edu

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

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

Jared Dickson, B.S. in Biology, The University of Texas at Tyler
Advisor: Dr. Srini Kambhampati
Research Interests: Mussel Ecology
Email: jdickson10@patriots.uttyler.edu

Derek Draper, B.S. in Biology, Cellular Track, Schreiner University
Advisor: Dr. Ali Azghani
Research Interests: Biomedical and more specifically oncological research
Email: ddraper2@patriots.uttyler.edu

Andrew Glen, B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, University of Missouri
Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford
Research Interests: I am interested in the conservation of freshwater ecosystems through demographic and ecology-based research.
Email: aglen@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

Elyse Kite, B.S. in Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics, UCLA with a Minor in Asian American Studies
Advisor: Dr. Brent Bill
Email: ekite@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

Aubery Norman, B.S. in Biology, The University of Texas at Tyler
Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford
Research Interests: I am interested in conservation ecology and evolutionary biology
Email: anorman3@patriots.uttyler.edu

Julia Norrell, B.S. in Biology Texas A&M University Corpus-Christi
Advisor: Dr. Joshua Banta
Research Interests: Botany, plant conservation
Email: jnorrell2@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

Charles Pratt, B.S.,
Advisor: Dr. Srini Kambhampati
Email: cpratt2@patriots.uttyler.edu

Maura Purcell, B.S., California State University Chico
Advisor: Dr. Riqing Yu
Research Interests: Microbial Ecology and Agricultural Management
Email: mpurcell@patriots.uttyler.edu

Megan Rudolph, B.S.
Advisor: Dr. Blake Bextine
Email: mrudolph@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

Cassie Vaughan, B.S.,
Advisor: Dr. Lance Williams
Email: cvaughan5@patriots.uttyler.edu

Matthew Wolkoff, B.S., in Psychology, American University
Advisor: Dr. Srini Kambhampati
Research Interests: Phlebotomine sand flies and other arthropod disease vectors.
Email: mwolkoff@patriots.uttyler.edu

Former Graduate Students

2015

Erin Bertram, B.S., Central Michigan University
Advisor: Dr. Lance Williams
Thesis: Confirmation of Potential Cyprind Hosts for State Threatened Freshwater Mussels of East Texas

Alex DeMilto, B.S. Arizona State University
Advisor: Dr. Jon Seal
Thesis: Lignocellulose Metabolism in a Fungus-Gardening Ant Symbiosis

Kayla Key, B.S. The University of Tennessee at Martin
Advisor: Dr. John Placyk
Thesis: Using Ecological Niche Modeling and Genetics to Evaluate the Conservation Status of the Texas Gartersnake, Thamnophis sirtalis annectens

Amalia Lopez, B.S. and Licentiate in Biology, Universidad del Valle de Guatemala
Advisor: Dr. Blake Bextine
Thesis: Bactericera cockerelli (Hemiptera: Triozidae): Nearly Complete Mitochondrial Genome, Single Mitochondrial Genes and Complete Mitochondrial Genome Comparison, and insecticide resistance genes of Potato Psyllid Population form North America

Bidisha Pal, B.Tech, Amity University, India
Advisor: Dr. Ali Azghani
Thesis: Pseudomonas aeruginosa elastase induces Reconstructing of Actin Cytoskeleton by Phosphorylation of RhoA Proteins

Chissa Rivaldi, B.S. in Biology, The University of Texas at Austin
Advisor: Dr. Blake Bextine
Thesis: Triatominae (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) in Texas: Mitochondrial Genome Assembly, Trypanosma cruzi detection, and bacterial Community Analysis

Patrick Rydzak, B.S. Marine Biology, Texas A&M University at Galveston
Advisor: Dr. Blake Bextine
Thesis: Manipulation of the Solenopsis invicat Virus-1 by RNA Interferene in the Red Imported Fire Ant, Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), and Examination of Differing micro RNA Expression

Melody Sain, B.S., The University of Tennessee at Martin
Advisor: Dr. Josh Banta
Thesis: Distinguishing the Neches River Rose Mallow, Hibiscus dasycalyx, from its Congeners using DNA Sequencing Data and Niche Modeling Methods

Lindsey Griffin, B.S., Austin College
Advisor: Dr. Lance Williams
Thesis: Determining Best Practices for Freshwater Mussel Relocation using Burrowing and Behavior

Daniel Symonds, B.S., SUNY - ESF
Advisor: Dr. Neil Ford
Thesis: Importance of Tributary Data for Evaluating Rare East Texas Mussel, Niche Models, and Community Structure


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: A Description of Tolerance to Apical Meristem Damage in Wild Populations of Arabidopsis thaliana and its Genetic Basis

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., TheUniversity 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.

UT Tyler