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Department of Ecology, Evolution & Marine Biology | UC Santa Barbara | Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9620

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Lizzy Wilbanks, Principal Investigator

Lizzy received her B.A. in Chemistry and Biology from Swarthmore College, where she conducted undergraduate research in synthetic organic chemistry (and discovered that microbes are marvelous chemists!). She completed her Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of California, Davis, where she was co-advised by Jonathan Eisen and Marc Facciotti. Her dissertation research was inspired by projects at the Marine Biological Laboratory’s Microbial Diversity summer course in Woods Hole, and focused on the metabolism and metagenomics of sulfur cycling bacterial aggregates. Following NASA and Agouron postdoctoral fellowships at Caltech with Victoria Orphan, Lizzy served as a visiting professor at Swarthmore College in the Biology Department. She joined UCSB in 2016.

Anna James, Postdoctoral Researcher

Anna has fulfilled the requisite years to officially be deemed a ‘UCSB native.’ She received her B.A. from the College of Creative Studies in 2009, where she studied recruitment patterns of hard corals at the UC Gump Station in French Polynesia. Between undergraduate and graduate years she worked as a technician - first, dissecting fish in Palmyra for parasitological research with the Kuris lab (UCSB); then, sailing on her first oceanographic research cruise aboard the R/V Melville with the Carlson lab (UCSB). ‘Punching holes’ as the research team crossed the South Pacific Ocean she discovered the pervasive power and influence of the myriad metabolisms of the oceans tiniest beings - marine microbes. During her Ph.D. she exploited microbial metabolisms to assess the effects of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels on the ability of the oceans to alleviate climate change through the absorption of human-produced carbon dioxide. She completed her Ph.D. in 2017 and is now working with the Wilbanks and Carlson labs to study the influence of the kelp microbiome on coastal biogeochemistry.

Anna's website

anna.james.k@gmail.com

Braulio Castillo, Gradute Student

Braulio got his Bachelor’s Degree in French and Biological Sciences with a concentration in Microbiology in 2018 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. While he did his undergrad work in soil microbial ecology, he was always fascinated by the immense diversity of microbes and their physiology. At UCSB he has finally gotten to do work with one of his favorite groups, sulfur metabolizing anaerobes! Originally from Tijuana, Mexico; Braulio is pursuing a PhD in the EEMB department and enjoys cinema, eating tacos, and pondering the relative nature of knowledge.

braulio.castillo@lifesci.ucsb.edu

Taruna Schuelke, Graduate Student

Taruna earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Genetics, and her newly found love for microbes has brought her to the Wilbanks lab at UC Santa Barbara. She previously conducted research in various systems ranging from fruit flies to fungal pathogens. Now, she is thrilled to dip her toes in marine microbiology. She loves to reduce, reuse and recycle and will yell at you for using a plastic bag! In her spare time, Taruna enjoys dancing and watching The Office.

taruna@ucsb.edu

Sevan Esaian, Graduate Student

Sevan received his BSc in Biological Sciences in 2016 (with a MCDB concentration) and a MSc in Biological Sciences in 2018 (with a concentration in Ecology) from the California State University – Los Angeles. His research experiences cover a broad range of experimental approaches and projects including cellular signaling, embryology, gene regulation, botany, avian field work, and geographic information science. In the Wilbanks lab, Sevan is pursuing a PhD in EEMB by combining interdisciplinary approaches to study the epiphytic microbial community of Macrocystis pyrifera (giant kelp). He is particularly interested in disentangling the synergistic effects of abiotic factors on microbial metabolic networks. 

Sevan's CV

sevanesaian@ucsb.edu

Justine Albers, Research Assistant

A Long Beach, CA native, Justine is happy to be on the west coast again after 4 years back east in Pennsylvania, where she received her Bachelor's Degree in Biology from Swarthmore College in 2017. She now works jointly between the Wilbanks & Santoro lab groups at UCSB studying the genetic diversity of marine microbes. In the Wilbanks lab, she enjoys mentoring an enthusiastic group of undergraduates working to isolate and identify members of the giant kelp microbiome. More about her work in the Santoro lab can be found here!

justinealbers@ucsb.edu

We're a new lab and recruiting at all levels.

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