As an undergraduate research mentor, I help my students achieve two learning goals: 1) co-ownership of their experience in the laboratory, and 2) development of the skills necessary to succeed in science after they graduate.  My students and I work together to collect animals in the field, generate data in the laboratory, and publish manuscripts.  Mentoring students has always been one of the most rewarding aspects of my professional career.

Photos of current and former members of my laboratory:


Trong Phung was a student in my 2016 Introduction to Laboratory Research in Microbiology course.  She earned a spot in the competitive John C. Young Scholars Program to complete a senior honors thesis in 2018-2019.  She will be continuing the research she began in 2016,  testing the efficacy of the antibacterial activity of bacteriophages against Escherichia coli strain K12.

Students collecting

Bailey Counts (Collaborator from UNC-Wilmington), Taylor Stewart, and Laura Mbogo conducting a Rapid Assessment Survey of invasive ascidians in Miami, Florida: July/August 2017.  Taylor is working this summer with Jeramiah Smith at the University of Kentucky on lamprey genomics, and Laura is interning with the Spine Center of Central Kentucky.


Claire Waldman presenting her research at the Kentucky Academy of Sciences Meeting, November 2015.  Claire is currently applying to dental school.


Jessica Peak and Kirsten Giesbrecht collecting Botryllus schlosseri, Ciona intestinalis and Ciona robusta in A Coruña, Spain: May/June 2014.  Jessica Peak is a wilderness therapy guide in Utah, and Kirsten is beginning her Ph.D. in Mathematics and Biology at UNC Chapel Hill.

Kirsten Me Lab 1

Kirsten Giesbrecht and me in the laboratory.

Kirsten Jessica Lake Herrington

Jessica Peak, Kirsten Giesbrecht and me collecting samples as part of a news story.

2012-04-05 18.37.16

Kirsten Giesbrecht presenting her research at the Kentucky Academy of Sciences Meeting, November 2014.


Grant Nation, Sarah Bialik and Emily Stephenson after a rainy day of collecting Ciona intestinalis and Ciona robusta in Concarneau, France: May/June 2013.  Grant Nation works in the Department of Physiology at the University of Kentucky, Sarah Bialik completed her Masters in Population and Conservation Biology at UT Austin with Chris Nice in 2017, and Emily Stephenson completed her Master’s in Public Health degree at the University of Sheffield in 2016.  She is now an educator at the Pre-Collegiate Program of Yangon in Myanmar.


Grant Nation, Sarah Bialik and Emily Stephenson preserve ascidian tissue in a hotel room in Granville, France: May/June 2013.


Grant Nation presents his research at the Kentucky Academy of Sciences Meeting, November 2013.


Emily Stephenson presents her work at Centre College’s RICE (Research, Internships and Creative Endeavors) Symposium, April 2015.


Lucy Yanckello worked on the Ciona intestinalis/Ciona robusta speciation project.  She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Kentucky in Nutritional Sciences.


Becca Cook worked on Botryllus allorecognition.  She is currently working at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Hospital.