MRG 2021Marine Research Group 2021 - 2022

  From L to R: Sean Richards, Emily Hyatt, Chelsey Navarro, Dr. Stephen Dunbar, Stephanie Molina, Robert Gammarillo, Celina Ceballos
  Current Students
Stephanie Molina Stephanie Molina is a first year Master's degree student.
Sean Richards

Sean Richards is a third year Master's degree student.

Thesis Title: Heavy Metals in Hawksbill Turtles in Thailand


Emily Hyatt

Emily Hyatt is a fourth year Master's degree student.

Thesis Title: Turtle Barnacles of the genus Chelonibia



Robert Gammariello

Robert Gammariello is a fourth year PhD degree student.

Dissertation Title:Turtle Hatchling Vision in Hawksbills from Guanaja, Bay Islands, Honduras

Winner of a 2022 Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV) Grant Find out more.

Chelsey Navarro

Chelsey Navarro is a fifth year PhD degree student.

Dissertation Title: Temporal and eco-physiological changes in shore crabs in southern California: impacts of temperature on fatty acid content, relative algal abundances, and food choice in Hemigrapsus nudus and Pachygrapsus crassipes

Thomas Hile

Thomas Hile is a sixth year PhD degree student.

Dissertation title:

Thomas is interested in understanding the dynamics between drinking water and the spread of some illness-inducing bacteria.


MRG photo 2020

Marine Research Group (MRG) 2020


Top row: Dustin Baumbach, Sean Richards, Chelsey Navarro


Bottom row: Dr. Stephen G. Dunbar, Marsha Wright, Nellie Covert, Emily Hyatt, Robert Gammariello



MRG 2019

Marine Research Group (MRG) 2019


Left to Right: Dr. Stephen G Dunbar, Emily Hyatt, Robert Gammariello, Dustin Baumbach,

Magalie Valere-Rivet, Chelsey Navarro, Marsha Wright, Tyler dos Santos



MRG 2017

Marine Research Group (MRG) 2017


Top row: Dustin Baumbach, Tyler dos Santos, Dr. Stephen Dunbar


Bottom row: Marsha Wright, Magalie Valere-Rivet, Chelsey Navarro



MRG 2016

Marine Research Group (MRG) 2016


From left to right: Marsha Wright, Dustin Baumbach, Tyler dos Santos, Dr. Stephen Dunbar, Magalie Valere-Rivet, Thomas Hile, Michelle Silva


  PhD Graduates
Dustin Baumbach

Dustin S. Baumbach, graduated June 2020.

Dissertation title: Hawksbill Foraging Ecology in a Marine Reserve

Dustin worked with the Protective Turtle Ecology Center for Training, Outreach and Research (ProTECTOR, Inc.) on sea turtle research in Honduras. His research involved sea turtles in the Sandy Bay West End Marine Reserve in Roatan, Honduras, where he investigated hawksbillhome range and foraging ecology.

Winner of a 2013 Sigma Xi Grant. Find out more.


Marsha Wright

Marsha K. Wright, gaduated June 2020.

Dissertation title: The Sandy Bay West End Marine Reserve: Hawksbill Inhabitance and Reserve Suitability

Marsha will be working with the ProTECTOR Inc. program studying sea turtle genetics and ecology in Honduras.

Winner of the 2016 Jordan Viders' Spirit of the Seas Award and Scholarship from Beneath the Sea. Find out more.

Magalie Valere-Rivet

Magalie Valere-Rivet, graduated June 2019.

Dissertation title: Response Mechanisms of the Hermit Crab Pagurus Samuelis the Environmental Hypoxia

Magalie worked with the hermit crab, Pagurus samuelis, on Southern California shores, investigating further aspects of hermit crab behavior during burial.

See Special Topics Video

Winner of a 2015 Southern California Academy of Sciences Grant.

Winner of a 2015 The Crustacean Society Denton Belk Memorial Scholarship Grant.

Winner of a 2017 Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid Research Award.

Winner of a 2018 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Grants-in-Aid Research Award. Find out more.

Noemi Duran

Noemi Duran completed Postdoctoral studies

Noemi continued some aspects of her work with the Protective Turtle Ecology Center for Training, Outreach and Research (ProTECTOR Inc.). As part of this research study Noemi worked with local fishers in the Gulf of Fonseca (south coast) to investigate the presence of hawksbill sea turtles in Pacific Honduras.


Noemi Duran

Noemi Duran, graduated July 2015

Dissertation title: Reproductive Ecology and Hatchling Behavior of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles in Honduras.

Noemi worked with the Protective Turtle Ecology Center for Training, Outreach and Research (ProTECTOR Inc.) on sea turtle research in Honduras. Her work concentrated on hatchling movements and behaviors of Lepidochelys olivacea in the area of Punta Raton, Honduras, in the Gulf of Fonseca.

Winner of the 2012 Sigma Xi-Faculty of Graduate Studies (LLU) Grant. Winner of the 2011 Boyd Lyon Research Scholarship. Find out more.

Matthew Ingle

Matthew Ingle, graduated July 2014

Thesis title: Baylisascaris procyonis Prevalence & Impact in Raccoon Populations

Matt is interested in understanding the relationships between parasite evolution and density of host species. He is especially interested in parasites of the North American raccoon Procyon lotor.

Recipient of a Marc Dresden Student Travel Award for the American Society for Parasitologists.

Tracey Magrann

Tracey Magrann graduated June 2011

Dissertation title: Factors Affecting Phytoplankton Biodiversity and Toxin Production.

Tracey's research involved developing a new water treatment program to reduce the levels of toxic algae in man-made lakes. By installing water treatment plants to remove phosphate, she hopes that algae levels will be greatly reduced thereby making the lakes healthier for the birds, fish, and other organisms that live there.

Recipient of a Southern California Coastal Waters Research Project Grant 2009.

Recipient of a Southern California Academy of Sciences Grant 2009.

Recipient of Newport Bay Naturalists and Friends Grant 2009.

Recipient of Marine Research Group, LLU Grant 2009.

Recipient of Friends of Madrona Marsh Grant, 2009.

Recipient of El Dorado Audubon Society Grant, 2009.

Recipient of Sea and Sage Audubon Society Grant, 2009.

Recipient of Blue Water Technologies Grant, 2009.

Recipient of Friends of Calavera Grant, 2009. Find out more.

Wendy Billock

Wendy Billock, graduated August 2008

Dissertation title: Behavioral Evidence for “Contextual Decision Hierarchies” in the Hermit Crab, Pagurus samuelis.

Her research investigated cognition in the hermit crab, Pagurus samuelis. There is a wide variety of information available in the intertidal environment, and hermit crabs must sort through the various stimuli to make a decision. Her experiments have explored the various combinations of visual, chemical, and tactile cues that Pagurus samuelis uses in specific situations. She proposed that in each situation hermit crabs utilize a specific 'Contextual Decision Hierarchy' with a primary, secondary, and possibly tertiary cue.

Recipient of the Loma Linda University Chancellor's Award, 2008

Recipient of Sigma Xi Grant

Recipient of Southern California Academy of Sciences Grant

Recipient of Crustacian Society Student Award Grant. Find out here.

  Master's Degree Graduates
Tyler dos Santos

Tyler dos Santos, graduated June 2019

Thesis Title: Determining Heavy Metal Concentrations in the Blue Banded Hermit Crab (Pagurus samuelis)

Tyler worked with the hermit crab, Pagurus samuelis, on Southern California shores, investigating heavy metal contaminants as part of base levels of intertidal trophic systems.


Christian Hayes

Christian Hayes, graduated June 2015

Thesis Title: Recreational diving and hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) in a marine protected area

Christian investigated the impacts of recreational scuba diving on hawksbill sea turtles in the Bay Islands, Honduras.


Lindsey Damazo

Lindsey Damazo, graduated August 2014

Thesis title: Nesting ecology of Hawksbill Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) on Utila, Honduras

Lindsey's work with the Protective Turtle Ecology Center for Training, Outreach, and Research (ProTECTOR) in Honduras is involved with characterizing beach slope and vegetation, nest temperature and sex ratios, and satellite telemetry of Eretmochelys imbricata nesting and hatching in Utila, Honduras.

See Special Topics Video

Maria Kim

Maria Kim, graduated March 2013.

Thesis title: Chemical Messaging in the Hermit Crab, Pagurus samuelis

Maria completed her work on hermit crab research in Southern California. Her research involved finding diferences in response to agonistic chemical cues in male and female hermit crabs, as well as sexual dimorphism in Pagurus samuelis.

Melissa Berube

Melissa Berube, graduated June 2010

Thesis title: Home Range and Foraging Ecology of Juvenile Hawksbill Sea Turtles around Roatan, Honduras.

Melissa worked on sea turtle research in Roatan, Honduras. She investigated the home ranges and habitat characteristics of juvenile hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) by tracking turtles through radio telemetry. Her work is an important componant of the Turtle Awareness and Protection Studies (TAPS) program under the Protective Turtle Ecology Center for Training, Outreach and Research (ProTECTOR). She was also involved with education outreach and local community capacity-building in regards to new conservation measures for all sea turtle species found in Honduras.


Janelle Shives

Janelle Shives, graduated June 2010.

Thesis title: Behavior and Physiology of Pagurus samuelis During Burial: Shell Abandonment and Lactate Accumulation.

She investigated hypotheses regarding the lack of hermit crabs found in association with gastropod shells in the fossil record. Although many gastropod shells are found throughout the fossil record with evidence that they have been "hermitted" (Walker & Carlton, 1995), questions remain as to why so few hermit crabs are found. Janelle's work focuses on the behaviors of Pagurus samuelis in various conditions of burial stress. She also investigated anerobic respiration in buried hermit crabs.


Mari-Lys Bacchus

Mari-Lys Bacchus, graduated June 2007

Thesis title: Characterization of Resting Holes and Use by the Antillean Manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus).

She investigated the ecology and behaviors of Sirenians. During the summers of 2005 & 2006, Marie-Lys worked on her field investigations on manatees in Belize with Caryn Self-Sullivan. Marie-Lys is interested in understanding aspects of daily and nightly habitats of Sienians. She developed conservation and educational outreach programs to local communities while working with these marine mammals, and has analyzed her field data collected during those summers.

Katsura Matsuda

Katsura Matsuda, graduated June 2006

Thesis title: Comparison of the Barnacle, Balanus amphitrite, in Different Environments.

Her studies compared the physiological responses of the barnacle, Balanus amphitrite, along the shores of the landlocked Salton Sea with those of the same species along the southern coast of California. Her work included measuring and comparing the respiratory, osmotic, and ionic responses of both populations to extreme environmental conditions.


Viren Perumal

Viren Perumal, graduated June 2007

Thesis title: Responses to Salinity of Color Polymorphs in Two Populations of the Sea Star, Pisaster ochraceus.

His research focused on the color polymorphism that is seen in the ochre sea stars, Pisaster ochraceus and examined if one environmental factor (salinity) affects the color morphs differently. Across a longitudinal gradient in Washington State, a change in frequencies of color morphs of these sea stars can be observed. There are many more orange and brown individuals on the open coast of Olympic National Park, than in the Inland Straits near Rosario Beach, where the sea stars tend to be larger, and mostly purple.


April Sjoboen

April Sjoboen, graduated December 2007

Thesis title: Temporal Fatty Acid Fluctuations of Pachygrapsus crassipes in Southern California.

Her objective in this research was to test the hypothesis that fatty acids found in the hepatopancreas changed on a seasonal basis as well as between sexes. This could be important in understanding how these crabs are able to survive in the fluctuating environment in which they live. Changes in these fatty acids could be an adaptive mechanism used by Pachygrapsus crassipes to take advantage of the biochemical properties of fatty acids in different temperatures. Because fatty acid viscosity changes with fluctuations in temperature, it may be beneficial for them to store different types of FAs in different seasons. Changing fatty acid saturation and length with fluctuations in temperature could maximize the utilization of these energy stores, allowing Pachygrapsus to thrive in the variable conditions of the intertidal zone.


Master's in Natural Science Degree Graduates

    Meredith Einspahr

Meredith Einspahr graduated June 2011

Project title: Methods for the Determination of Magnetite during the Embryological Development of L. olivacea, the olive ridley.

Meredith worked on sea turtle research in Honduras.  Her work was an important part of the conservation plan implemented by the Protective Turtle Ecology Center for Training, Outreach and Research (ProTECTOR, Inc.).  She worked alongside members of the community to further the understanding and conservation of sea turtles in the waters of Honduras.

Matthew Ingle

Matthew Ingle, graduated June 2010

Project title: Genetic Variation in Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) Turtles Nesting in Punta Raton, Honduras.