Department of Biological Sciences

Graduate Student Research


alphabetical order by last name


ajasaOluwabukola Ajasa (Advisor: Dr. Rich Musser)

Emphasis: Microbiology
Alkaloid rich diet effect on growth, gene expression, and immune function of Helicoverpa zea.




ammarAmmar Al-Furaiji (Advisor: Dr. Rich Musser)

Emphasis: Genetics
Gene expression of cancer, caterpillars and plants.





Sam Cuthbert (Advisor: Dr. Catherine Miller-Hunt)

Emphasis: Microbiology/Virology
How the measles virus enters our immune system.



Kayleigh R. Diveley (Advisor: Dr. Rich Musser)

Emphasis: Thesis Track in Microbiology
"I'm currently observing changes in the expression levels of defensive genes of the Corn Earworm (Helicoverpa zea) and Corn (Zea Mays) tissues through the use of rt-qPCR and eventually Microarray analyses."



AndrewAndrew Englund (Advisor Dr. Richard Musser)

"I am examining the Interactome of the corn earworm Helicoverpa zea and corn Zea mays. This is primarily a genomic analysis of the effects that the pest has on the plant as well as the effects of the plant on the pest."







Kimberly Gillespie (Advisor Dr. Shawn Meagher)

"My research is focusing on parasites (flukes) that infect bluegill found in Spring Lake in Macomb. The focus of the project is to compare parasite loads in fish captured in 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."



parisParis Hamm (Advisor: Dr. Andrea Porras-Alfaro)

Emphasis: Microbiology
Evaluating Actinobacteria against Pseudogymnoascus destructans causing White Nose Syndrome in bats.






Laura Hemphill (Advisor Dr. Sue Hum-Musser)

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


Micah Hoder (Advisor: Dr. Brian Peer)

Emphasis: Animal behavior
The role of cognition in brood parasite-host relationships.



Khalil Md Imtiaz Khalil (Advisor: Dr. Richard O. Musser)

Emphasis: Thesis track in Microbiology
Research Interest: My research is focused on the effect of belowground microbial fungi on the gene expression in some solanaceous plants when it faces caterpillar herbivory.  Caterpillar feeding stimulates some defense and stress related gene expression in plants which can be further modulated by the beneficial fungi called "Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF). AMF penetrates the cortical cells of the root system of the plants and provides acquired systemic resistance to the plants. We will try to see whether this fungi is modulating plants gene expression in response to caterpillar feeding. We chose several vital crops such as tomato, tobacco, groundcherry under solanaceous family to study their gene expression. Our laboratory assays consisted of RNA isolation, cDNA synthesis and qPCR analysis. The findings of this experiment may lead to a novel method to reduce the use of chemical insecticides and re-establish AMF as biofertilizers to promote eco-friendly agricultural system.


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."



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."



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."





cedricCedric Ndinga Muniania (Advisor: Dr. Andrea Porras-Alfaro)

Emphasis: Mycology
Distribution of Fungi in Arid Ecosystems and their potential role on plant growth.




simeonSimeon M. Ogundiran (Advisor: Dr. Sue Hum-Musser)

Emphasis: Molecular biology
Individual and combined effects of Trichoderma and Rhizobium inoculants on gene expression in soybean (Glycine max) under heat stress condition.






ruchiRuchi Ojha (Advisor: Dr. Sue Hum-Musser)

Emphasis: Molecular biology
Growth profile and gene expression of Helicoverpa zea infected by Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki and israelensis (BKT and BTI).






Adeyemi A. Olanrewaju (Advisor: Dr. Andrea Porras-Alfaro)

Emphasis: Medical mycology
Distribution of thermophilic fungi at different seasons in corn field, their potential mycotoxin production and their relationship with other microbial communities.



sangSangya Paudyal (Advisor: Dr. Catherine Miller-Hunt)

Emphasis: Microbiology
Isolation of novel mycoviruses from Fusarium.







Michele Rehbein (Advisor: Dr. Catherine Miller-Hunt)

Emphasis: Microbiology
Mosquito surveillance for West Nile Virus, mainly collecting and testing Culex mosquitoes and basic entry studies of cells with West Nile Virus on the molecular level.



soumyaSoumya Saha (Advisor: Dr. Scott Holt)

Emphasis: Microbiology
Gene expression studies in Leuconostoc citreum.







Katrina 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."




bethBeth Scheihing (Advisor Dr. Sean Jenkins)

Emphasis: Plant Ecology
Impacts of prescribed burning and vegetation structure on tick populations.







sivaAbhishek Sivaramareddy (Advisor Dr. Scott Holt)

Emphasis: Microbiology
Identification of Bifidobacterium genes involved in the metabolism of oligosaccharides.






ericEric Smith (Advisor: Dr. Chris Jacques)

Emphasis: Wildlife Biology
I am developing a plasma-lipid metabolite index that can be used to assess relative habitat quality for canvasbacks (Aythya valisineria) at important stopover sites during spring migration.  I am also coordinating the long-term lesser scaup (A. affinis) banding program funded by the Mississippi Flyway Council which aims to band large numbers of scaup as they migrate through the region during spring migration.






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Tim Swearingen (Advisor: Dr. Chris Jacques)

Emphasis: Wildlife/Population biology
Bobcat Ecology: Estimating the density of Bobcats in an agriculturally dominated landscape in west central Illinois through capture-mark-recapture data from camera traps.






terryTerry Torres Cruz (Advisor: Dr. Andrea Porras-Alfaro)

Emphasis: Mycology
Description of a new fungal species that is a novel early lineage in the Mucoromycotina.




emmaEmma Trone (Advisor: Dr. Chris Jacques)

Emphasis: Wildlife biology
We are examining differential gene expression in chronic wasting disease infected white-tailed deer in northern Illinois. We are also looking at post mortem RNA degradation in white-tailed deer in west-central Illinois.





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."





saranwrapSarah Warren (Advisors: Dr. Sean Jenkins and Dr. Catherine Miller-Hunt)

Emphasis: Field Ecology & Microbiology
"My project focuses on the effects of Prescribed Forest Burnings in an Oak Woodland using Ticks as a representative species. I study the effects of 3 different burn regimes focused on plant species presence and distribution as well as the effect on tick species presence. Furthering my study I have a microbiology component focusing on the ticks individually as vectors for disease to determine the prevalence of disease in Hancock County."




Emma White (Advisor: Dr. Ken McCravy)

Emphasis: Pollination
Preliminary study of Bee (Hymenoptera) diversity at Emiquon Nature Preserve.