Fab Lab Team

Marianne Porter, PhD and PI:
My interest in biology has taken me from the mountain tops in northern Arizona, to bottom of the Grand Canyon, and to remote fishing camps in Baja. My study organisms have come from both the plant and animal kingdoms and also robotic fishes. My scientific interests include biomechanics and functional morphology, ecology, and physiology. Currently, my study organisms of choice are elasmobranchs (sharks, skates, and rays). I am interested in the mechanics of their cartilaginous vertebral columns and the resulting swimming styles seen among species. I also use bio-inspired robots and biomimetic structures to answer questions about skeletal material evolution and locomotion.

Postdoctoral scholar (NSF PRFB):
Dr. Lauren Simonitis (https://www.laurenevesimonitis.com):
Dr. Simonitis is joining the lab in Fall 2022. The title of her project is ‘The Behavioral, Neurophysiological, and Physical Mechanisms of Ink as an Antipredation Strategy’.

PhD students:
Maddy Hagood (mhagood2018@fau.edu):
Maddy Hagood is a PhD student studying shark skin. She is working to understand skin stretchiness and arrangement of the dermal denticles, the little pieces of mineral embedded in the skin that make it feel like sandpaper. Shark skin is fascinating because the arrangement and density of the denticles are so variable among species. Maddy is really interested in the keels found in some shark species (lamniformes) and is using histology and mechanical testing to understand their function. Maddy enjoys playing the ukulele and adopting all kinds of pets.

Jamie Knaub (jknaub2020@fau.edu):
Jamie joined the Fab Lab in August 2020. She has been working on vertebral morphology to understand the mineralized structure of cartilaginous vertebrae and also bony vertebrae from marine mammals. Jamie has been spending a lot of timing dissecting and ct scanning. Jamie has cats that are very talkative and contribute to Zoom meetings.

Aubrey Clark (clarka2014@fau.edu):
Aubrey Clark finished her MS studying the morphology of shark olfactory organs. Olfactory organ morphology and shape is variable among species and Aubrey is working to understand the functional significance of this variation. Aubrey is was an undergraduate at FAU has some amazing lab skills; she is one of the lead teaching assistants for the microbiology courses. Aubrey loves irony; her black dog is named Winter.

MS students:
Ivan Heerdegen (iheerdegen2016@fau.edu):
Ivan joined the Fab Lab in August 2020. Ivan has been studying the swimming kinematics of hammerhead sharks. They are looking at the kinematics during a number of behaviors: straight swimming, turning, foraging, swimming while processing foods, oh my! Essentially answering the question: can they walk and chew gum at the same time… swim and process squid. Ivan is a gifted artist and teacher.

Post-Baccalaureate Researcher:
Delaney Frazier:
 shark vertebrae morphology and mechanical properties. 

Undergraduate researchers:
Joey Alexander: shark skin mechanics
Kai Lechet-Lam and Kyle Sagon: shark skin morphology
Maria Uribe Mejia and Joshua St Juste Ellis
: shark vertebrae mechanical properties
Sonoma Arnaldy: vertebral mineralization analyses using ct imaging
Madisan Biordi: shark olfactory morphology

Lab Alumni:
Dr. Danielle Ingle; PhD 2020. 
Dr. Danielle Ingle investigated the structure and function of bone in the vertebral column of aquatic mammals like manatees, dolphins, and whales. She is excited about this research because bone is constantly changing in the body, it can tell us a lot about animal movement, development, and life and evolutionary history. She finds aquatic mammals especially fascinating because 50 million years ago, they moved and looked much like the four-legged animals around us on land, but over time slowly transitioned into the sleek, leg-less forms we see today. Danielle enjoys drum circles and traveling.

Dr. Katherine Galloway; PhD 2020. 
Dr. Kate Galloway is investigated the mechanical properties and puncture performance of lionfish spines. She chose this research because lionfish are extremely invasive in South Florida, and are of particular interest to Florida communities. Lionfish biology was of little interest in past years until they became such a successful invasive predator. Through her dissertation work, Kate’s goal is to better understand lionfish biology and mechanics as a whole, and be able to compare the structure and function of lionfish spines to other materials found in nature. Kate enjoys traveling and twinning.
Current position: Assistant professor at Nicholls State University

Dr. Sarah Hoffmann; PhD 2019. Everything you wanted to know about shark pectoral fins and 3D VROMM techniques.
Current position: research scientist

Shelby Creager, MS: shark skin is stretchy and denticles are important
Current position: Navy!

Hannah Herbst: bio inspired designs
Dante Romero and Lenia Jordan: leopard shark swimming kinematics
Delaney Frazier:
 NSF Post Baccalaureate Researcher Oct 2021-Sept 2022, shark vertebrae materials testing and ct analyses, spiky parts of lionfish
Delanie Kirwan: predator – prey swimming kinematics, currently a science teacher
Ivan Heerdegen: mineralization patterns in shark vertebrae
Andrea Hernandez: epaulette shark walking
Matthew Warren: hammerhead hydrodynamics
Wilmer Lopez: shark pectoral fin morphology, currently Dr of veterinary medicine
Ayse Demercan: shark nose morphology
Noa Abiri: bioinspired needles and lionfish spine morphology