Past

Joseph Curtis

MS Student (2013-2016)

Joseph Curtis

Joseph Curtis

 

Education
2013 BS University of California, Santa Cruz
2016 MS University of South Florida

 

Statement of Research Interests
Raised in California, Joseph fell in love with the ocean at an early age and became SCUBA certified at 13. Since then, he has exploring marine life and ecosystems across the globe, diving and snorkeling off the coast of every continent except Antarctica. Joseph earned a BS in Marine Biology from UC Santa Cruz, and is proud to be a banana slug alumni. After earning his degree, Joseph took on a coral reef aquaculture internship with the Mote Marine Lab and developed an interest in returning to Florida to study marine conservation ecology. Joseph also is passionate about outreach and marine science education, and spent two years on Catalina Island teaching children about the oceans through interactive lessons and snorkeling trips. As a Master’s student in the Fish Ecology Lab, Joseph studied the evidence for potential interactions and competition between invasive lionfish and a native grouper species (Graysby) in Biscayne National park. Mostly using applied analyses of stable isotopes, Joseph found that native predator diet was less varied in the presence of higher levels of lionfish, and detected a high degree of resource use overlap that indicated a strong likelihood for competition. Joseph also consulted stable isotopes in layers of lionfish and Graysby eye lenses, using this novel technique to describe trends in diet and movement of both species. Joseph hopes his work can contribute useful information to resource managers and conservation scientists aiming to understand and mitigate the effects of invasive lionfish throughout the western Atlantic. Joseph’s studies were funded by two USF endowed fellowships (Von Rosenstiel and Garrels), Florida Sea Grant Guy Harvey Scholarship, and the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (2014).

 

Benjamin Kurth

MS Student (2013-2016)

 

Benjamin Kurth

Benjamin Kurth

Education
BS 2011 Stetson University
MS 2016 University of South Florida

 

Awards
Paul Getting Memorial Fellowship 2014-2015
Knight Fellow 2016-Present
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program Honorable Mention 2014 & 2015

 

Statement of Research Interests
Ben was a masters student whose intent was to further his knowledge of fisheries biology and management, especially for recreationally important gamefish. Ben’s thesis focused on Atlantic Tarpon and had two important components. The first used a multi-year, genetic tagging database to better understand the life history and biology of juvenile and sub-adult Tarpon. The second component used chronologically-based stable isotope analysis of adult Tarpon eye lenses to better understand both juvenile and adult habitat use, movements, and trophic dynamics. Ben is from Tampa, FL and spends as much time on the water as he can for both academic and personal interests. He has worked as a biologist for Mote Marine Laboratory investigating cold kill effects on fish populations; with the Environmental Protection Agency studying the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone biogeochemistry; and currently is employed at FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in the Molecular Genetics laboratory.

 

Tim Pusack

Postdoctoral Fellow (2014-2017)

Tim Pusack

Tim Pusack

 

Education
BA 2005 Colgate University
PhD 2013 Oregon State University

 

Statement of Research Interests
Tim was postdoctoral researcher that studied community ecology of oyster reefs. His work combined both manipulative and observational field studies with controlled mesocosm experiments. Specifically he studied the interactions between the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) and various predators: crown conch (Melongena corona), southern oyster drill (Stramonita haemastoma), and mud crabs (Panopeus spp.). One of the main goals of his research was to describe how fluctuations in the physical environment altered predator-prey dynamics. Changes in abiotic factors such as temperature and salinity can affect species behaviors, such as feeding rate or anti-predator behaviors, and subsequently alter predator-prey dynamics. For example, under certain abiotic conditions, rapid increases in the number of predators can result in high densities of predators called “Consumer fronts”. These fronts can rapidly deplete prey populations. However understanding the predator-predator interactions at these high densities is understudied, but vital to accurately describe predator-prey dynamics. Through the use of field and lab experiments Tim sought to describe these effects. Tim is also interested in understanding the effects of artificial and natural reefs on fish populations. He regularly participated in fish surveys and collections at our sites in the Gulf of Mexico. His interests also lie in using population genetic tools (e.g., microsatellites, SNPs) to answer ecological questions such as population persistence, dispersal and movement, and population size (effective and census). In addition to his research, Tim is passionate about teaching. He has taught many courses and during his postdoc he taught Ecology, Environmental Science, and developed a Marine Ecology field course set to occur at the Keys Marine Laboratory in the Florida Keys.

 

Kara Wall

Kara Wall

Kara Wall

MS Student (2014-2017)
Lab Manager (2012-2014)

 

Education
BS 2010 University of Tampa
MS 2017 University of South Florida

 

Statement of Research Interests
Kara’s masters thesis research focused on the ecology of epibenthic communities in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Specifically, she investigated how grazing from sea urchins affected the composition of epibenthic communities. Her work took place on local artificial and natural reefs, and was primarily conducted on SCUBA. This work combined observational community data with experimental settlement data in an effort to better understand the complex interactions that dictate the composition of the local epibenthos. Although she is originally from Indiana, Kara has lived in Florida for nearly a decade. After the completion of her Bachelor’s degree across the bay at the University of Tampa, she spent nearly three years in Miami working for the National Park Service at Biscayne National Park. Kara returned to the Tampa Bay area in 2012 to join USF’s Fish Ecology Lab as a technician and lab manager before she began her Master’s education in 2014.