Lab Members


Dr. Leila J. Hamdan
Associate Professor
Division of Coastal Sciences
School of Ocean Science and Technology
University of Southern Mississippi

Dr. Hamdan is a molecular microbial ecologist and her studies focus on geomicrobiology and the impact of changing environmental conditions on the structure and function of marine and estuarine communities. Her current studies center on microbial biogeography on continental margins and the impacts of hydrocarbons and chemical dispersants on communities found on artificial reefs (shipwrecks) in the deep biosphere of the Gulf of Mexico.  Her work also addresses the microbiology of marine methane seeps and the role of microorganisms in the development of anoxia in the Chesapeake Bay. Prior to joining the University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. Hamdan was an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Science and Policy Department at George Mason University, a Research Microbiologist in the Marine Biogeochemistry Section at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC, and a National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Associate.

Research Staff


Dr. Jennifer L. Salerno
Term Assistant Professor
Environmental Science and Policy Department, GMU

Dr. Salerno is a marine microbial ecologist interested in microbial/animal associations and the role that microbes play in maintaining and destabilizing organismal and environmental health. She obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii where she studied bacterial communities associated with reef-building corals and how these communities respond to environmental change. Since joining the lab, she has taken on a central role in the study of shipwreck associated microbial biofilms as part of the GOM-SCHEMA project.




Rachel Mugge
Graduate Research Assistant
Division of Coastal Sciences
School of Ocean Science and Technology
University of Southern Mississippi



Beth Haley
Department: Chemistry and Biochemistry & Department of Biology B.S.
Concentration in Microbiology


Matthew Johnson 
Department: Environmental Science and Policy B.S.
Concentration in Ecological Science

Former Lab Members


Fernanda Craig (Febes)
Lab Manager/Research Assistant
Environmental Science B.S. 2015 – George Mason University
Concentration in Marine, Estuarine and Freshwater ecology


Zeima Kassahun
Mississippi State University


Christine Figan
National Institutes of Health


Sarah Brown
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


Avani Casey
University of Virginia

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