Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory Team


Project Lead - Susan Laramore, Ph.D.

Assistant Research Professor


Lab Staff

Brittany Ploof

Brittany Ploof
Feed Studies Technician



Bryan Gordon
Lab Assistant

Bryan was a part-time biological technician from September 2013 to August 2014 after having been a volunteer in the laboratory starting in January 2013 and in the aquaculture department since January 2012. Bryan’s primary task was assisting with shrimp nutrition studies as part of the aquaculture IMTA project, helping determine whether growth and survival of L. vannamei postlarvae and juveniles could be enhanced by supplementing and replacing a portion of their diet with Ulva harvested from the IMTA systems. While a volunteer, Bryan learned molecular diagnostic techniques such as DNA and RNA extractions, PCR and gel electrophoresis, and histological techniques, used primarily to certify shrimp and bivalve commercial operations, as well as water quality analysis and fish husbandry techniques. Bryan earned an AAS in Landscape Horticulture Technology from IRSC in June 2012. He went on to earn a certificate and an AAS degree in Aquaculture Technology from IRSC.



Lisa Heise

Lisa volunteered from September 2012 to March 2013. Lisa graduated with a B.S. in Biology from James Madison University. She was involved in two bivalve projects while at HBOI-FAU, one focusing on Perkinsus marinus and the other on Bonamia sp. These projects involved field collections, sample processing and use of molecular techniques to diagnosis parasite prevalence. In addition she assisted Harbor Branch postdoc Nikki Dix with monthly plankton collections. Lisa currently resides in Jacksonville, Fla., where she works as a NEPA Specialist for Martin Environmental Solutions Inc.


Will Krebs
Biological Science Technician

Will was employed as a biological scientist from January 2010-June 2013. He graduated with a B.S. in both Aquaculture and Molecular Biology from Florida Institute of Technology and completed coursework for an M.S. in Marine Biology at FIT. Will was quite prolific in the laboratory and became proficient in histology, molecular techniques, microbiology and ELISA’s. His prior background working as a farm manager was invaluable during projects involving shrimp and bivalve culture. He was heavily involved in IMTA research studies, particularly those involving shrimp and oysters. He also took on educational and outreach duties while working at HBOI-FAU, helping to mentor Link summer interns, and working with middle and high school groups that visited the Aquaculture Park. Will has been actively involved in both Boy and Girl Scouts for over 12 years. One of Will's hobbies is origami, and when not working or camping with the Scouts, he gives origami demonstrations to school groups. Will currently resides in Alamosa, Colorado, and works for Colorado Catch, LLC.


Christine Marshall

Christine volunteered in the lab in the spring and summer of 2013. She graduated with a B.S. in Marine Science from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. As part of her tenure in the laboratory she assisted with processing of collected field samples, molecular diagnostic techniques, helped to mentor the Link summer interns and organized the molecular area of the lab. Christine is currently a histotechnologist in the dermatopathology department at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where she had worked previously before locating to Florida.


Graduate students


Lucas Jennings – M.S. chair 3/2013-8/2014

Lucas graduated from the University of South Florida in 2005 with a B.S. in Biology. From there, he went on to work at Mote Marine Laboratory in the benthic ecology program as a field biologist and an invertebrate taxonomist. While at Mote, Lucas worked on 10 different projects a few of which were EPA mandated studies. In 2009, Lucas came to Harbor Branch and worked in the marine botany program as an invertebrate taxonomist, and was given the unique opportunity to work on a deep sea benthic project where he was in charge of benthic taxonomy and benthic animal photography. In August of 2012, Lucas decided to return to school and is now working on his Master’s degree studying rapid adaptations (phenotypic plasticity) using model organisms. Lucas is also a current adjunct faculty member at Indian River State College where he teaches Biology labs.


Pedro Lara – M.S. committee member

Pedro was a 2013 Link summer intern


Undergraduate students

Kaitlin Gallagher - FAU senior research thesis mentor 8/2013-4/2013

Kaitlin began volunteering in the laboratory in January 2012, learning histological techniques while attending FAU’s Semester by the Sea Program at Harbor Branch. As a Link summer intern in 2012, she focused on adapting a fluorescent in situ technique to detect Bonamia in preserved bivalve tissues collected by Ashley Lave in 2010. She presented her data “Examining Bonamia spp. infectivity in PCR positive bivalve samples from the Indian River Lagoon” at the Link Summer Intern Symposium on the Harbor Branch Campus and also at Aquaculture America 2013 in Nashville, Tenn., in the bivalve disease session. For her senior thesis Kaitlin chose to expand upon her internship. Kaitlin graduated from the Wilkes Honors College of FAU in May 2013 and presented her thesis “Seasonal effects on the prevalence and intensity of the parasite Bonamia spp. in bivalves from the Indian River Lagoon.” While working on her project she received three awards from FAU – a monetary award for supplies for her project, an award for her oral presentation, and an Outstanding Thesis Award. Kaitlin is current working on her Ph.D. at University of Connecticut under Dr. Caira. Her research there will focus on elasmobranch parasites.


Link summer interns


Susan Cheng – 2013

Susan graduated from Centenary College in New Jersey with a B.S. in Biology in May 2013. She was an HBOI-FAU Link summer intern in 2013. Her project “Confirmation of Bonamia spp. in bivalves in the Indian River Lagoon using Fluorescent in situ hybridization” was a continuation of Kaitlin Gallagher’s senior thesis project on seasonal prevalence. As part of her project she collected bivalves for a summer 2013 data set and examined those, along with previously collected spring bivalves for the presence of Bonamia spp. by fluorescent in situ hybridization. She is currently working towards an M.S. in Forensic Science at Cedar Crest College in Pennsylvania.


Erika Chu – 2013

Erika graduated from Centenary College in New Jersey in May 2013 with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Environmental Science. Erika was an HBOI-FAU Link summer intern in 2013. Her project “Detection and prevalence of Bonamia spp. through PCR in bivalve populations in three sites in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida” was a continuation of Kaitlin Gallagher’s senior thesis project on seasonal prevalence. As part of her project she collected bivalves for a summer 2013 data set and examined those, along with previously collected spring bivalves for the presence of Bonamia spp. by PCR. She is currently waiting for a response from the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship for 2014-2015. Meanwhile she is working as a part time lab assistant.

Pedro Lara – 2013 (see also above)


Kaitlin Gallagher – 2012 (see also above)


Kiersten Miller – 2011

Ashley Lave – 2010

Jennifer Reed – 2010


Student employees

Heather Kalisz – summer 2012

Richard Carsten Jones – summer 2011