IMET Recent Graduates

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IMET Recent Graduates

Jun 08, 2022

With graduation season upon us, it's time to recognize the incredible IMET students who have successfully defended their theses/dissertations in the last couple of months. Graduate students at IMET are working towards either a masters or a doctoral degree. They are affiliated with one of our partner institutions- UMBC, UMB, or UMCES and work in their IMET advisor’s laboratory in our state-of-the-art facility here at IMET.

It takes a multitude of steps to complete a graduate degree. While students start their programs with coursework, it doesn't end there... In addition to completing coursework through their universities, students develop a research proposal, defend the proposal, begin their research, research some more… and some more, start writing their thesis/dissertation, write A LOT more, then (no, not done yet) they must present and defend all of their research to a graduate faculty committee. After presenting their work to the committee, the students are questioned in detail about their research. Once satisfied, the committee will approve the students work…NOW they are done. We are so incredibly proud of the students who have completed this rigorous process at IMET so we decided to show them off!


Dr. Mingli Zhao

Mingli's PhD research focused on viral diversity across a range of marine ecosystems. Specifically, Mingli used the widespread Atlantic blue crab to study the interaction between climate, life history, and viral diversity in marine systems. What advice does Mingli have for incoming graduate students?

"1. Connect with other graduate students in the MEES program. Graduate students in the MEES program are enrolled in different universities, so reach out to the graduate students who have gone through the same processes in the program for advice and help. 2. Check the graduate degree program requirements earlier, e.g., what qualifications are needed for your committee members and the timeline for committee meetings and exams. Check this information on the graduate school website ahead of time." 

Dr. Daniela Tizabi

Daniela's Ph.D. research focused on the search for novel anti-tuberculosis drugs. Specifically, Daniela explored the possibility of using bacteria found in the Caribbean giant barrel sponge to inhibit the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. What advice does Daniela have for incoming graduate students?

"Don't be afraid to ask questions! Research is a highly collaborative effort and you won't be able to figure out everything on your own. There's always someone you can talk to if you need help with a new protocol or just have research questions in general, and everyone at IMET is very approachable and willing to help!"

Dr. Ernest Williams

Ernest’s PhD research focused on marine microorganisms and the substances they produce. Specifically, he studied dinoflagellate natural product synthesis. However, we must add that Ernest was not just an IMET student but also an IMET employee. Ernest has been with IMET for over 15 years! What experience stood out to Ernest the most during his time at IMET?

“I was surprised by the amount of community shared amongst the graduate students. Standing in line I was surprised by how many people I had taken classes with, done projects with, and talked about research with; even people that I had attended the first day of student orientation with.”

Dr. Victoria Laye

Victoria’s PhD research focused on microorganisms that live and thrive in subzero temperatures and high salt environments. Victoria studied how the proteins of this cold-adapted microbe are able to function at such low temperatures. What advice does she have for incoming graduate students?

“Take advantage of all the opportunities offered. Go to every conference you can and take every invitation to present your work. It's scary but the more you do it, the easier it gets and the more confidence you will gain in your work and conclusions.”

Dr. Hanover Matz

Hanover’s PhD research focused on the immune systems of cartilaginous fishes, specifically the evolution of B cell selection in nurse sharks. What is the most surprising thing he learned?

“Several parts of my dissertation research were real "wow" moments in expanding our understanding of shark B cell responses. The first time I was able to visualize the presentation of a fluorescent antigen, phycoerythrin, in the spleen of a nurse shark was fantastic and unexpected. I was shocked by how visually striking the microscopy images were. Much of my research showed that the fundamental components of B cell selection in mammals were present at the emergence of adaptive immunity in vertebrates. We have come to appreciate that the shark immune system is not "primitive" at all, but shares many of the same aspects as our own immune systems.”

Dr. Shadaesha Green

Shadaesha’s Ph.D. research focused on the red deep-sea crab, Chaceon quinquedens, a cold-water decapod found along the continental shelf and slope of the eastern United States. This research aimed to advance our understanding of the reproductive physiology of C. quinquedens females. What are Shadaesha's plans for the future? 

"After finishing my Knauss fellowship I was offered and recently started a position in NOAA's Office of Education Environmental Literacy Program as a Grant Specialist. So, for now, I plan to continue exploring and learning more about NOAA education and science policy."

Ben Frey (MS)

As a NOAA LMRCSC Graduate Fellow, Ben completed his MS degree at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, where he began developing a novel method to accurately age fish. By shooting lasers at its bones, Ben can determine the age of a fish! What experience stood out the most during Ben’s studies?

“I think the experience that stands out most to me is going out to sea to collect samples. Being able to journey out into the field and actually get my hand on my thesis species, monkfish, made my work feel more important and tangible rather than just data on a screen.”