Current Lab Members

Catherine Fitzgerald – Ph.D. Student

Catherine joined the lab in the fall of 2018 after working as a technician in the Plough lab (among many others!). She is currently a Maryland SeaGrant fellow analyzing zooplankton diversity in the Choptank River and examining cryptic diversification in Acartia tonsa using morphological, molecular, and biochemical approaches.

Chelsea Fowler – M.S. Student

Chelsea joined the Plough lab in August 2020 to pursue her master’s degree. Prior to joining, Chelsea worked with the Ecological Society of America as a Program Specialist and the United States Peace Corps as a Coastal Resource Management Specialist. She graduated from the University of Tampa in 2016 with a B.S. in Marine Science and Biology. Through her graduate study, Chelsea is a Maryland SeaGrant Fellow and her research is focused on using novel environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques to advance efforts to manage and conserve local river herring and shad populations. Beyond her degree program, Chelsea hopes to continue to participate in research that explores and makes use of eDNA techniques with the wider goal of increasing the accessibility of information on fisheries resources.

Ben Gregory – Lab Technician

Ben joined the lab in September 2020 as a lab technician after graduating from Vassar College with a B.A. in Biology and Anthropology. His work is primarily focused on processing regional environmental DNA (eDNA) samples to assist in the monitoring of river herring populations in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. He has also been working on developing new genetic assays to apply to environmental samples for metazoan metabarcoding, including a CRISPR-based negative enrichment approach, and a novel universal primer set, with the aim of expanding the breadth of taxon detection. Ben hopes to continue his career with a PhD examining the evolutionary impacts of anthropogenic change on animal populations, particularly in regions with heavy urbanization or landscape modification.

Shannon Hood – Ph.D. Student

Shannon grew up in Maryland and earned her undergraduate degree from California State University, Long Beach. She worked for the Environmental Defense Fund and learned the importance of science, communication, and policy interacting to affect change. Since joining UMCES in 2015, Shannon has managed a Demonstration Oyster Farm and begun her Ph.D. research with Dr. Louis Plough. Through Shannon’s research, she works to identify management strategies that can aid the efficiency of oyster farms by controlling biofouling using data-driven techniques. Shannon examines treatment effects on both the biofouling organisms and the oysters themselves to identify broadly suitable options to support this growing industry.

Lexy McCarty – Ph.D. Student

Lexy joined the lab in 2017 after working for a few years characterizing phenotypes of human rare diseases using CRISPR/Cas9 zebrafish models at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She graduated in 2015 from St. Mary’s College of Maryland with a BA in Biology and a minor in Environmental Science. Lexy is currently working on her Ph.D. dissertation titled “Examining the genetic basis and physiology of survival in extreme low salinity to improve aquaculture of the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) ”

Assistant Professor Louis Plough

I have been a professor at Horn Point since the fall of 2013, prior to which I was a postdoc at Clemson University. Much of my research to date has focused on the population genetics and life history of marine invertebrates and I am actively working to apply new genomic technologies to understand the biology of larvae, dispersal processes in the ocean, and adaptation to environmental change. Check out our lab publications and research page for more info.

Lab Alumni

Anna Manyak DavisGraduate Student – Ph.D.2015-2021

Anna was a Ph.D. student who studied the ecology of oysters. Her dissertation was titled: Physiological, molecular, and ecological responses of the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, to hypoxia exposure in the Chesapeake Bay.

Katie McFarlandPostdoctoral Fellow2018-2019

Katie was a postdoctoral fellow who studied larval oyster feeding physiology. She is now a Shellfish Biologist with NOAA Fisheries Service at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center.

Katie HornickGraduate Student – Ph.D.2014-2019

Katie was a Ph.D. student. During her time with the lab, she was a Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy Fellow NOAA (2020-2021). Her dissertation was on the population genetics of eastern oyster restoration in the Chesapeake Bay.

Ben LeeLaboratory Technician2017-2019

Ben worked as a Faculty Research Assistant participating in projects involving the genetic structure of the Blue Crab, and the genetic diversity of Spartina, among others. Ben now works for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) as a technician.

Laura ThomasGraduate Student – M.S.2014-2016

Laura was a master’s student, her thesis focused on examining the effect of gear type on oyster growth and shell shape. She now works for Smiths Detection as a biotechnology sales associate and account manager.

Alexandra WelchLabratory Technician2014-2016

Alexandra worked as a laboratory technician on oysters, crabs, and striped bass genetics.

Adrian PlummerREU InternSummer 2014

Adrian worked in the Lab as a Maryland SeaGrant REU fellow on a project examining mating success between cryptic populations of the copepod Acartia tonsa. He graduated from  William Patterson University in New Jersey, and currently works for an environmental consulting firm.