Dr. Cathy Walsh

The Marine Biomedical Research Program is dedicated to using marine organisms as laboratory animal models in basic research. The ultimate goal is to use results from these studies to contribute to a better understanding of health problems in higher animals, including humans and/or to benefit the wild populations of the particular animal studied.

The Marine Immunology Program focuses on basic and applied immunological research of marine animals, ranging from cartilaginous fishes to marine mammals. Basic research efforts contribute to a better understanding of comparative vertebrate immune function as well as phylogenetic insights into human immunity, while applied studies provide unique information helpful in assessing the immune health of wild populations of marine animals, including marine mammals, exposed to a variety of environmental stressors. Interns assist staff scientists and biologists in laboratory-based research projects on immune function in sharks, skates, stingrays and other marine wildlife (e.g. manatees, dolphins). Other projects focus on the use of sharks and skates as sources for biomedically useful materials. Interns participate in animal maintenance, laboratory preparation (e.g. chemical preparation), animal dissections and laboratory procedures including cell culture, immunoassays, gel electrophoresis and immunoblotting. College juniors, seniors or recent graduates with experience in biochemistry, immunology and molecular biology preferred. This program accepts internship applications for fall, winter and spring only. This program takes REU interns in summer.


Dr. Andrea Tarnecki

Microbial communities play an important role in host health from development of the gut and immune system to providing protection against opportunistic pathogens. In aquaculture, a primary use of probiotics - live bacterial supplements that boost immune function, improve growth, or strengthen resistance to disease-causing microorganisms -- is to manipulate microbial communities in fish. Current research focuses on characterizing bacterial community compositions of various marine fish species grown in aquaculture. Bacterial assemblages are analyzed alongside immune parameters in order to test the effectiveness of probiotic supplements as well as target new bacterial species for future probiotic development. Methods include bacterial DNA sequencing, immunological assays, and statistical analyses, with the ultimate goal of understanding the mechanism behind the benefits that probiotics provide their host.  Some work is conducted at Mote's offsite aquaculture facility. Interns are responsible for transporting themselves to and from Mote's Aquaculture Park.