Broadly, my lab investigates how biogeochemistry and nutrient
supplementation impact community structure and trophic interactions among
soil arthropods and ant species. We use field experiments, naturally
occurring environmental gradients, and stable isotope analysis to answer
The research in the Giorno lab focuses on the assembly of Bacillus anthracis and Clostriduim difficle spores, addressing the roles of the two outer-most structures, the coat and exosporium, in resistance, germination and virulence. Using genetic and proteomic approaches, we have identified and mutated several genes in the attenuated B. anthracis Sterne strain. Characterization of these mutants has allowed us to construct a model for the assembly of the B. anthracis coat and exosporium as well as identified proteins which impact germination both positively and negatively.
The Hill lab uses a combination of both lab and field experiments to examine ecological interactions in primarily marine and freshwater communities. Many of these experiments focus on how animal behavior, predator-prey interactions, and anthropogenic impacts affect community structure and function using crustaceans and small fish as experimental models. However, the only requirement for research is that the questions are novel and the experiments are feasible. Some of the questions we have worked on in this lab include:
How do invasive species impact the survival and behavior of commercially important crustacteans?
How does predation stress impact fecundity and reproduction?
How do anthropogenic impacts such as pesticides, acidification, and eutrophication impact animal behavior and interactions?
How does nutrient enrichment affect marsh plant production, nutrient allocation, and herbivory?
We are interested in how organisms survive and reproduce in their natural
environments. Our research focuses on behavioral ecology, conservation,
toxicology, ecoimmunology, and endocrine function and senescence.
The Applied Genomics and Biotechnology Lab employs molecular biology techniques for genomics and proteomics analysis as well as methods for design and fabrication of micro-systems for biological research. Specific focus areas of research activities include studies of the role of methylation and microRNA-mediated epigenetic regulation of DNA repair proteins. The lab also develops integrated lab-on-a-chip methods and technologies for detection and analysis of DNA, microRNAs, proteins, and antibodies. The students working in the lab participate in advanced biotechnology related scientific research and acquire skills and experiences that prepare them for careers in the academia, pharmaceutical or biotechnology industry.