Lab Members

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Dr. Leila J. Hamdan

Associate Professor

School of Ocean Science and Engineering

Division of Coastal Sciences

University of Southern Mississippi

228-818-8011

leila.hamdan@usm.edu

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.

Staff

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Anirban Ray

Laboratory Manager

School of Ocean Science and Engineering

Division of Coastal Sciences

University of Southern Mississippi

228-818-8030

Anirban.ray@usm.edu

Anirban Ray joins the Hamdan Lab as our Laboratory Manager. Anirban completed his MS in Molecular/Microbial Ecology from BGSU, Ohio, and has a Master’s in Microbiology from Bangalore University, India. ​Anirban is experienced in the field of genome editing using the CRISPR/Cas9 system, and cutting-edge molecular methods.

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Dr. Justyna Hampel

Post Doctoral Research Associate 

School of Oceanography and Engineering

Division of Coastal Sciences

University of Southern Mississippi

Justyna Hampel completed her PhD in Environmental Sciences at Wright State University, where she studied nitrogen cycling in eutrophic lakes. Justyna is experienced in pairing geochemical measurements with functional gene abundance, and her research interest include nutrient biogeochemistry and microbial ecology. For her postdoctoral research, she will be investigating the effects of historic shipwrecks on microbial community structure and biogeography in deep-sea sediments.

Students

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Rachel Mugge

Graduate Research Assistant (PhD Program)

School of Ocean Science and Engineering

Division of Coastal Sciences

University of Southern Mississippi

rachel.mugge@usm.edu

Rachel’s research interests focus on the effects of spill contaminants on microbially-induced corrosion (MIC) and biofilm formation on metal-hulled shipwrecks through field- and lab-based experiments using comparative metagenome analyses.

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Rachel Pugh

Graduate Research Assistant (MS Program)

School of Ocean Science and Engineering

Division of Coastal Sciences

University of Southern Mississippi

rachel.pugh@usm.edu

Rachel’s research interests focus on microbial biogeography in deep-sea habitats, and the manner in which microbes are dispersed in ocean currents. Rachel also has a background in marine aquaculture and bivalve studies.

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Melissa Brock

Graduate Research Assistant (MS Program)

Division of Coastal Sciences

School of Ocean Science and Engineering

University of Southern Mississippi

melissa.l.brock@usm.edu

Melissa’s research interests focus on the impact of deep-sea shipwrecks on microbial composition and distribution in the surrounding environment using bioinformatics and statistical approaches.

Former Lab Members

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Dr. Jennifer L. Salerno

Assistant Professor, George Mason University, Environmental Science and Policy Department

AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow

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Beth Haley

George Mason University

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Matthew Johnson 

George Mason University

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Fernanda Craig (Febes)

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Zeima Kassahun

Mississippi State University

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Christine Figan

National Institutes of Health

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Sarah Brown

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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Avani Casey

University of Virginia

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