Prospective Students

Research underway at the MADL includes shellfish ecology, ecological physiology, shellfish adaptation to climate change (ocean acidification, change in temperature and salinity regimes), and pathology and immunology, and employs a wide range of techniques and approaches (field studies, genomics, cell and molecular biology). Please read carefully the information available on the various pages of this website and contact Bassem Allam for more information.

Current Students

Graduate Students

Sabrina Geraci-Yee

Sabrina is a senior Ph.D. Candidate in Marine Science. She received a B.S. with honors in Marine Vertebrate Biology from Stony Brook University and began her Ph.D. studies at SoMAS in Fall 2011 under the supervision of Dr. Jackie Collier. After working on various projects, including seagrass microbial communities and silica uptake in cyanobacteria, she now works under the joint advisement of Dr. Collier and Dr. Bassem Allam. Sabrina’s dissertation research focuses on the distribution and dynamics of pathogenic and nonpathogenic labyrinthulomycetes (fungus-like protists), using Quahog Parasite Unknown (QPX), which is a pathogen of the hard clam  (Mercenaria mercenaria), as a model to investigate how virulence impacts ecology. In particular, she is using molecular diagnostic tools to perform a large scale survey of QPX disease in clams and the QPX organism in the environment across the marine district of New York to better understand the pathogenic nature (obligate v. opportunistic) and ecology of QPX. Her research also includes understanding QPX transmission and QPX within the context of the broader biology and ecology of the labyrinthulomycetes.



Caroline Schwaner

Caroline has just started her fourth year as a PhD student. She comes to the MADL with B.S. from Emory University and an MEM from Duke University. Caroline is interested in understanding how environmental stress in general, and ocean acidification in particular, affects bivalve physiological processes. She is particularly intrigued by trade-offs between different physiological functions (e.g. feeding physiology, immunity and resistance to infections, etc.) in clams and oysters in the face of ocean acidification. She has the Mid-Atlantic Ocean, Coastal, and Estuarine Acidification Graduate Research Fellowship for her current project focused on “Identifying Molecular Markers associated with Resilience to Ocean Acidification in the Eastern Oyster and the Northern Quahog”.


Chris Brianik

Chris is just starting his second year as a PhD student at SoMAS. He took a year off after getting his B.S. in ecology, evolution, and natural resources at Rutgers University-New Brunswick before joining our lab.  During his undergrad, Chris studied how fish parasites are regulated by the ecology of their host’s environment and did his honors thesis on understanding how these parasites fit into the River Continuum Concept. Since joining MADL, he has begun to apply his ecological knowledge to QPX, a protozoan parasite of the hard clam.  Chris is extremely interested in parasites and their roles in the environment, as well as disease dynamics in general.


Ray Czaja

Ray is beginning his first year as a PhD student at SoMAS. He joins MADL after finishing his M.S. at the University of West Florida, where he researched the effects of habitat fragmentation on seagrass associated fauna.  Ray has broad interests in marine invertebrate ecology, with some specific interests including trophic interactions, larval behavior, and population structure. His dissertation research will involve analyzing the effects of climate change on the Atlantic surf clam (Spisula solidissima) and using scientific tools to assess population connectivity among bivalves.  When Ray is not working in the lab, you can often find him freediving and photographing Long Island marine wildlife.


Madison Muehl

Madison is beginning her first year at MADL after receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and minor in Chemistry from Alfred University. During her undergraduate career she researched novelty in microbial natural products as well as polar bear behavior. She is currently enrolled in the M.S. program researching bivalve microbial filtration. She has a broad interest in invertebrate-microbe interactions and how these relationships are influenced by environmental factors.

Sherif Abdallah

Sherif is starting his third year as a Fulbright M.S. candidate at SoMAS. In Egypt, he earned a B. Sc. in Pharmacy and Biotechnology and worked as a hospital pharmacist. Sherif is primarily interested in how parasitism shapes marine ecological and evolutionary processes. His thesis concentrates on oyster innate immunity through investigating its initial interactions with Perkinsus marinus. Before joining MADL, he researched testing the sensitivity and specificity of eDNA analysis for describing the temporal and spatial distributions of fish and macroinvertebrates in Shinnecock Bay, NY. Sherif previously worked to uncover the current status of the trade-in Alexandria’s fish markets and gain insights into the local community’s perceptions. He and his colleagues submitted a report to Egypt’s Ministry of the Environment, which led to law enforcement and assisted in ending the illegal sea turtle trade in Alexandria.

Taylor Dranginis

Taylor is beginning her first year as a M.S. student at SoMAS after receiving her B.S. in Marine Science with a minor in Biology from the University of South Carolina. During her undergraduate career, Taylor worked in an estuarine ecology lab investigating phytoplankton community structure and biomass off South Carolina’s coast. During the summers she did fieldwork in Mexico, where she recorded and tracked the appearance of novel viral tumors in Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. Her current interests at MADL primarily revolve around the effects of environmental change on the mortality of scallops in Long Island waters.


Avuntaura Gulledge

Avuntaura is a first year M.S. student who is working to improve oyster breeding through furthering knowledge of disease resistance, impacts of local ecology, and genetic background. Avuntaura received a B.S. with Honors in Marine Science from the University of Maine, where she developed a high-throughput flux analyzer starting methodology to evaluate eastern oyster metabolics. She is now focused on examining regional and genetic differences in oyster lines for her M.S. with MADL. During her free time, Avuntaura loves to try new foods and collect plants.



Undergraduate Students: Undergraduate internships are available. Contact Bassem Allam for more information.

Prior Students

Graduate students

Michelle Barbosa, 2020
Yuk-Ting (Joyce) Lau, 2017
Kailai Wang, 2016
Rachel Hartman, 2016
Soren Dahl, 2015
Ewelina Rubin, 2014
Mickael Perrigault, 2010
Margaret Mars, 2010
Sarah Winnicki, 2010
Qianqian Liu, 2010
Jesse Hornstein, 2010
Margaret Homerding, 2009
Wade Carden, 2007
Deenie Bugge, 2006
Hua Qian, 2004

Undergraduate students

Nancy Wei (Undergraduate intern, Northweastern University, Summer 2015)
Bianca Santos, SBU, 2012-2014
Anna Hollembeak, SBU, 2013-2014
Samantha Rogers, SBU, 2013
Laura Gambino, Gettysburg College, 2012
Lauren Sussman, SBU, 2010-2012
Ciera Rhodes, Wilson College, 2011-2012
Nashwa Khalil, SBU, 2007-2008
Brian Rosenstock, SBU, 2008
Ryan Maloney, SBU, 2006
Yuk-Ting Lau, SBU, 2004-2006
Monica Chu, MIT, 2006
Jason Havelin, SBU, 2005

High school interns

Julie Jones (Pembroke Hill high school, Kansas City, MO, summer 2017)
Peter Connors (The Harker School, San Jose, CA, summer 2017)
Anya Pawar (Half Hollow Hills Central School, NY, Summer 2016)
Hannah Ritter (Half Hollow Hills Central School, NY, Summer 2016)
Brittany Ma (Great Neck High School, NY, 2014)
Sumi Varghese (Brentwood High School, NY, 2013)
Adrian Kim (Port Washington High School, NY, 2012)
Meghana Reddy (JFK Plainview High School, NY, 2012)
Laura Gambino (Miller Place High School, NY,  2010)
Richard Grove (Port Washington High School, NY, 2009)
Dahlia Hassan (Port Washington High School, NY, 2009)
Michael Loiacono (Ward Melville High School, East Setauket, NY, 2008)
Bryan Tan (SBU’s sponsored Simons fellowship program, East Islip High School, NY, 2008)
Chuan Hao Chen (SBU’s sponsored Simons fellowship program, Manhasset High School, NY, 2007)
Sophia Christides (JFK High School, Plainview, 2007)
Alexandra Hay (Jericho High School, Long Island, USA, 2006)
Brandon Moss (JFK High School, Plainview, NY, USA, 2004)

Students publications, including those of high school and undergraduate interns, can be viewed by visiting the PUBLICATIONS page.