People

 

Interested in joining the lab?

Please contact Karen Maruska via email to discuss potential openings and current research projects. Prospective graduate students and postdocs should also send a statement of research interests and current CV. Prospective undergraduate researchers should be able to commit a minimum of 2 academic semesters (preferably a full calendar year) to working in the lab.

 

Karen Maruska

Karen Maruska (Principal Investigator)

email: kmaruska@lsu.edu | Google Scholar Profile

Karen is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at LSU. She graduated with a B.S. degree from University of New Hampshire, and then got her M.S. degree at Florida Tech and Ph.D. degree at University of Hawaii working with Tim Tricas. She then did a Grass Fellowship in Neuroscience at the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole with Al Mensinger, and was a NIH postdoctoral scholar with Russ Fernald at Stanford University. Her research has used fishes as vertebrate models to study how sensory systems function, how hormones influence sensory processing, how animals communicate, and how the social environment influences behavior, brain function, and reproductive capacity.

 

Graduate Students & Postdocs

 

Teisha King

Teisha King (PhD Student; co-advised by Jeremy Brown)

email: tking21@lsu.edu 

For organisms living in dominance hierarchies, social status determines accessibility to resources and reproductive success. Social status is often established based on the organisms’ environment and physiology, which can be disrupted when they encounter a pathogen. In such situations, the proper amounts of energy must be allocated to respective biological systems to ensure the survival. My research explores how an immune challenge affects behavior and physiology across social status and reproductive state. I am also interested in identifying how the immune system influences speciation rates of cichlid species. This research will expand our understanding of neuro-immune interactions and the importance of the immune system and reproductive fitness in the diversification of species.

Rose Wayne

Rose Wayne (PhD Student)

email: cwayne1@lsu.edu

Social defeat models for studying PTSD are commonly used in mammals such as rats and hamsters where subjects are exposed to and suppressed by a single aggressor animal. My research aims to show that repeated social defeat of dominant A. burtoni males can also induce behavioral phenotypes exhibiting core aspects of human PTSD, therefore making them useful as a new model organism in this context. A secondary focus of my research is to participate in science-art community outreach by creating a comic book based on research from our lab. The goal is to make science more fun, transparent, and accessible to the general public.

Chase Anselmo

Chase Anselmo (MS Student)

email: cansel5@lsu.edu

In a world filled with friendly neighbors and deadly predators, animals rely on visual information to interpret their physical and social environments. In the social fish, A. burtoni, reproductive males have bright coloration compared to reproductively inactive, drab colored males, signaling their social and reproductive state. When A. burtoni females cycle into reproductive readiness, their eyes become more sensitive to male-typical colors, potentially allowing them to better receive male reproductive visual signals. I'm investigating how reproductive hormones might allow females to cyclically adjust their visual sensitivity across the reproductive cycle. A secondary project of mine is investigating the role of water movements detected by the lateral line system in reproductive communication.

Emily Ray

Emily Ray (PhD Student)

email: eray8@lsu.edu

Filial cannibalism occurs when a parent consumes their offspring and is present in a range of taxa. Filial cannibalism and parental care can co-exist and be mutually beneficial in a single species. A. burtoni females provide maternal care by protecting fry in their mouths when threatened. However, adult A. burtoni also cannibalize fry, and how filial cannibalism is suppressed during the maternal care period is unknown. My research aims to identify how filial cannibalism is triggered or suppressed to prevent it from occurring in non-adaptive situations.

Robert Mobley

Dr. Robert Mobley (Postdoc)

email: rmobley@lsu.edu

Robert graduated with a B.S. in Biology from University of California, Riverside, and completed a dual Ph.D. degree in Zoology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology & Behavior from Michigan State University, studying the evolution of sensory systems in sticklebacks. He is currently and NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biology, studying the impacts of temperature on the expression of the vertebrate morphogen sonic hedgehog on brain development, and the long-term consequences on sensory biology and reproductive behaviors in cichlid fish.

 

Current Research Personnel

Tab Henry

Tab Henry

Honors College,
Undergraduate Researcher

Connor Carbine

Connor Carbine

Undergraduate Researcher

Marie Drozda

Marie Drozda

Honors College,
Undergraduate Researcher

 

Abby Rink

Abby Rink

Honors College,

Undergraduate Researcher

Alora Mclinnis

Alora Mclnnis

Undergraduate Researcher

Vy Nguyen

Vy Nguyen

Undergraduate Researcher

 

taylor Copelin

Taylor Copelin

Undergraduate Researcher

Madeleine Richard

Madeleine Richard

Undergraduate Researcher

Hunter Dunn

Hunter Dunn

Undergraduate Researcher

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graduate Student Lab Alumni

Saachi Chugh Saachi Chugh (M.S. 2022)

Although feeding and reproduction are fundamental and interconnected processes in all mammals, a trade-off exists between feeding and reproduction. For example, pregnant mammals consume more food to support the developing young, while some fishes, birds, amphibians, and reptiles consume less food during parental care. There is a plethora of signaling molecules which help in regulating this trade-off. My research focused on the role of a fairly new signaling molecule, nesfatin-1 encoded by the nucleobindin-2 gene, in the feeding and reproductive circuits of the maternal mouthbrooding cichlid fish.

 

 

Julie Butler

Julie Butler, Ph.D. (PhD 2019)

Julie's Website

Acoustic signaling is fundamental to communication and crucial for reproductive and territorial behaviors in many species. My research examines the impact of human made noises (e.g. shipping, oil exploration, sonar) on fish behavior, reproduction, and acoustic communication. By mimicking a noisy underwater environment, my research aims to understand how fish cope with the increasing underwater noise levels. In addition, I am interested in the role of the lateral line system during social interactions, and how information gained through mechanoreception may influence social decision. Julie went on to a postdoc position at Stanford University.

 

Karen Field

Karen Field, Ph.D. (PhD 2018)

Karen's Website

Olfaction is phylogenetically among the oldest senses in vertebrates, but there is still a paucity of information on how chemosensory signals released during reproduction are perceived and processed in higher brain centers, especially in fishes. My research investigated how chemosensory signals might be integrated with other senses and with an animal’s own internal physiological state to help make behavioral decisions using the African cichlid, Astatotilapia burtoni. Karen is Associate Director of Scientific Proposal Writing at Precision Medical Group in Houston, TX.

 

Danielle Porter

Danielle Porter (M.S. 2015)

Danielle worked on the neural basis of mouthbrooding in A. burtoni, by examining localization patterns, cell sizes, and gene expression of candidate anorexigenic (POMC, CART) and orexigenic (AgRP, NPY) neurons in the brain of mouthbrooding and gravid sexually-receptive females. Danielle went on to a PhD program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

 

 

Lab Alumni

Student/Personnel Lab Position and Years Where did they go?
Evan Dore Undergraduate Honors Thesis, 2019-2022  
Hyerin Jeong Undergraduate Honors Thesis, 2019-2022  
Braden Delanzac Undergraduate Researcher, 2019-2022  
Ava Karam Undergraduate Researcher, 2020-2021 LSUHSC New Orleans, Medical School
Jonathan Tabora Undergraduate Researcher, 2020-2021  
Mark Maier Undergraduate Honors Thesis, 2019-2020 LSUHSC New Orleans, Medical School
Erandi Herath Undergraduate Honors Thesis, 2019-2020 LSUHSC Shreveport, Medical School
Adam Zulli Undergraduate Researcher, 2018-2020  
Ross Calhoun Undergraduate Researcher, 2019-2020  
Ian Hill Undergraduate Honors Thesis, 2019-2020 LSUHSC Shreveport, Medical School
Cy Bryson Undergraduate Researcher, 2018-2019 LSU School of Veterinary Medicine
Ganga Tandukar LBRN Summer Undergraduate Researcher, 2019 University of Louisiana, Monroe
Sarah Whitlow Undergraduate Researcher, 2016-2019 Loyola University of New Orleans, Pre-Health Post Bac. Program
Chase Anselmo Undergraduate Honors Thesis, 2017-2019 LSU Department of Biological Sciences
Ainsley Mann Undergraduate Researcher, 2018-2019 University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Brandon Tramontana Undergraduate Researcher, 2016-2019 Duke University, Biomedical Engineering Program
Alexandre Nikonov, PhD Senior Research Associate, 2015-2018  
Arohan Rimal LBRN Summer Research Program, 2018 University of Louisiana, Monroe
Ashley Augustus IMSD Undergraduate Researcher, 2015-2018  
Makayla Voss Undergraduate Researcher, 2016-2018  
Victoria Huynh Undergraduate Researcher, Honors Thesis, 2016-2018 LSUHSC New Orleans, Medical School
Alabel Olinde Undergraduate Researcher, 2018 Medical Sciences Program, Mississippi College
Adaoma Ngari Undergraduate Researcher, 2016-2017 Meharry Medical College
Austin Nguyen Undergraduate Researcher, 2017-2018  
Tyler Causey Undergraduate Researcher, 2017  
David Roberts  Research Associate, 2015-2017 LSUHSC New Orleans, Medical School
Chris Forester LBRN Summer Research Program, 2017 Louisiana Tech
Donald Lamotte Undergraduate Researcher, 2016-2017  
Daniel Vilchez Undergraduate Researcher, 2015-2017 Georgetown University, Masters in Physiology Program
Kara Johnson LSU-HHMI Undergraduate Researcher, 2015-2017  
Maddy Shannon Undergraduate Researcher, 2015-2017 LSUHSC New Orleans, Medical School
Zaida Salame Undergraduate Researcher, 2016-2017  
Charles de Boisblanc Undergraduate Researcher, LSU-HHMI, 2014-2016 LSUHSC New Orleans, Medical School
Joshua Campbell Undergraduate Researcher, 2015-2016 LSU Chemical Engineering Program
Christopher McVicker Undergraduate Honor's Thesis, 2014-2016 LSUHSC Shreveport, Medical School
Polly Gwan Undergraduate Researcher, 2014-2016 Medical Sciences Program, Mississippi College & LSUHSC New Orleans, Medical School
Vincent Tran Post-Bac Researcher, 2015 UT Austin Graduate Program, Statistics
Alex Manning Post-Bac Researcher, 2014-2015 LSUHSC School of Public Health Graduate Program
Lloyd Moffett Undergraduate Researcher, 2014-2015  
Haley Pilet Undergraduate Researcher, 2014-2015 LSUHSC Shreveport, Medical School
Charly Brooks LSU-HHMI Undergraduate Researcher, 2014 LSU School of Veterinary Medicine
Macy Guthrie BRCC-HHMI Undergraduate Researcher, 2014  
Kelsey Hershey Undergraduate Researcher, SURE award, 2012-2014 LSUHSC, New Orleans, Medical School
Montana McKay Undergraduate Researcher, 2013-2014 PA School, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Kenny Kingston  Undergraduate Researcher, 2013-2014 Ross School of Veterinary Medicine
Sudarshan Thapa Undergraduate BIOL 3999, 2013 Graduate program, Biological Sciences, LSU
Kristi Harrison Undergraduate Researcher; 2012-2013 PA School, LSU Shreveport
Anupa Prajapati Undergraduate LBRN-HHMI researcher, summer 2013 Medical Technologist, Cambridge Health Alliance, MA.