Graduate Research

Our M.S. program in marine sciences culminates in a research project of your choosing, enabling you to investigate an aspect of the marine sciences of particular interest to you. With the support of a sponsoring faculty member, you'll follow your passion out into the field, generating new knowledge and getting firsthand training as a marine science researcher.

Current graduate student projects are summarized here: 

Laura Ellis

TitleUsing sex hormone concentrations within the skeletal muscle tissue as an alternative method for determining sex in Atlantic bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus, from the New England fishery
Advisor: Dr. James Sulikowski
SummaryRadioimmunoassay techniques are being used to quantify the reproductive hormone concentrations within the skeletal muscle tissue of Atlantic bluefin tuna landed in the New England commercial and recreational fishery to create mathematical models that can be used to predict sex. Once established, we plan to collaborate with the larger research efforts of Dr. Walt Golet at the University of Maine to evaluate the ratios of males to females and determine if sex-specific growth curves are appropriate for the Atlantic bluefin tuna landed in this area.  

Kelly Flanders

TitleUtilizing prey DNA to infer spatial, temporal, and inter-sexual differences in western North Atlantic gray seal diets
Advisor: Dr. Kathryn Ono
Summary: Kelly's project goal is to conduct a complete assessment of gray seal diets in the U.S. Her objectives are to determine which prey species are being consumed that traditional methods cannot detect and to identify spatial, temporal, and inter-sexual differences in gray seal diets. 

Sarah Hylton

TitleDiet, Movement, and Reproduction of Shortnose Sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) in the Merrimack River, MA
Advisor: Dr. James Sulikowski
Shortnose sturgeon, Acipenser brevirostrum, has been listed as federally endangered since 1967; to aid in the recovery of this species, Sarah plans to conduct comprehensive studies on their diet, movement, and sex in the Merrimack River. Understanding their feeding habits, sex ratios, and spatial use in this river and those to which its resident shortnose migrate (including the Saco and the Kennebec) can aid management in developing an effective rebuilding plan for the species. 

Gwendolyn Pelletier

Title: Stress tolerance in the European Green Crab, Carcinus maenas
Advisor: Dr. Markus Frederich
Summary: Gwendolyn is studying how stress tolerance changes through the molt cycle of the green crab at the whole animal, cellular, and genetic levels, and how this corresponds to ventral sternite coloration and seasonality.

Christopher Powers

Title: Habitat Selection and Post-Bleaching Fitness in Symbiodinium minutum
Advisor: Dr. Stephan Zeeman
Summary: Chris is looking at success of zooxanthellae in varying habitats to determine favorable and unfavorable environments for these species. This information will then be used to determine the stress response of zooxanthellae in favorable, unfavorable, and absent sediment in bleaching conditions to test the efficacy of previous stress studies performed on these algae in vitro.

Amelia Smith

Title: Stress and discard mortality of the monkfish, Lophius americanus, in the scallop dredge fishery
AdvisorDr. James Sulikowski
Summary: Amelia's project aims to quantify the stress response and discard mortality of monkfish in the scallop dredge fishery by testing injury conditions, vitality reflexes, and blood samples to compare levels of lactate, hemoglobin, hematocrit, and cortisol among fish. The results of her study will provide new data on these species, as well as help provide management with important information regarding the response of bycatch to fishing practices. 

Brett Sweezey

Title: Post-release mortality of the Atlantic cod
Advisor: Dr. James Sulikowski
Summary: Brett's research focuses on determining the post-release mortality of Atlantic cod discarded in the Gulf of Maine fishery through the use of acoustic telemetry.