Principal Investigator

Dr. Marie Strader (she/her)

B.Sc University of Oregon (2010)
Ph.D. the University of Texas at Austin (2012-2017)
Postdoctoral Researcher, University of California Santa Barbara (2017-2019)
Research Assistant Professor, Auburn University (2019-2022)
Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University (2022-present)

I am a marine molecular ecologist interested in mechanisms of organismal responses to the environment. I investigate how marine invertebrates respond to predicted changes in ocean environments from the level of genes to populations in an evolutionary ecology context. The overarching theme of my research program is to investigate how our changing climate influences ecological and evolutionary responses of marine invertebrates.

Post-doctoral Fellows

Amy Tan, Ph.D

B.S. Walla Walla University (2013)
M.S. Walla Walla University (2015)
Ph.D. Texas A&M University (2022)
Amy is a developmental and molecular biologist who is excited to be returning to the undersea realm and echinoderm biology. She completed her PhD in Biology at Texas A&M University (in 2022) studying the development of the zebrafish inner ear, focusing on how Fgf, Wnt, and Hh are coordinated and cooperate to pattern the sensory and neural regions of the inner ear. Prior to that, she studied sea cucumber (Parastichopus californicus) visceral regeneration as a Masters student at Walla Walla University and, as an undergrad, worked on projects related to the impact of sea cucumbers in tropical coral reef environments.

Ph.D. Students

Stephanie Hendricks

B.Sc. Texas A&M University (2021)
Stephanie is an incoming PhD student (2022) interested in coral biology and conservation. She received her B.S. in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston in 2021. Her past research focused on the down-regulated genes in the immortal jellyfish (Turritopsis dohrnii) using transcriptomics and bioinformatics. Some of Stephanie’s hobbies include traveling, photography, and collecting rocks.


Ziyu (Tobi) Wang

B. Sc. Texas A&M University (2023)
Ziyu (Tobi) is a senior zoology student at Texas A&M University, passionate about the evolution, systematics, and physiology of marine invertebrates. Specifically, he is fascinated by the evolutionary epigenetics of the genus Cassiopia. Currently, Ziyu works at the Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collection at Texas A&M University, where he manages all aspects of the natural history collection. His ultimate goal is to become a curator at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. To gain more experience in the field of marine biology, Ziyu will be assisting the Strader lab team in their work with the genus Cassipoeia, and invertebrate husbandry.

Previous Lab Members

Avery Von Eiff

B.Sc. Auburn University (2022)
Avery was an undergraduate in the Strader lab from 2020-2022 at Auburn University. She won an undergraduate research fellowship to work on a project, “Effects of climate change on coral reefs: Factors affecting recovery from thermal stress in Florida false corals Ricordea florida“, but also assisted in many other projects in the lab. Avery is now a biologist at the Moody Gardens Aquarium.


Chelsea Lawrence

Chelsea Lawrence worked in the lab from 2020-2022 as an undergraduate at Auburn University. She worked on determining how the environment of Stronglyocentrus purpuratus (Purple Sea Urchins) can affect their immune response genes. At Auburn University, she also had the pleasure of working for AU ourSTEMstory. This organization is a seminar series that educates both current and future scientists and the public on research ethics. “OurSTEMstory,” raises awareness about the contributions of underrepresented groups in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Modern medicine and society have benefitted from the consensual and nonconsensual contributions of underrepresented groups to STEM, and our goal is to highlight their stories while also acknowledging any unethical missteps taken in the name of advancing research and knowledge.

Sarah Leinbach

M.Sc. Auburn University (2022)
B.Sc. University of Maryland, College Park (2019)
Sarah graduated from the Strader Lab (Auburn University) in May 2022 with a M.Sc. in Biology. Sarah’s thesis focused on understanding intraspecific variation in coral reproductive output and symbiont community structure following a thermal bleaching event in the reef-building coral Acropora hyacinthus. Sarah currently works as a restoration technician at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. 

Megan Maloney, M.Sc.

B.Sc. Coastal Carolina University (2016)
M.Sc. University of West Florida (2019)
Megan started as a co-advised PhD student with Dr. Kate Buckley at Auburn University in 2020 and is continuing her PhD at Auburn. She is interested in how the invasive jellyfish Cassiopea responds to environmental change. She received a bachelor’s degree in Marine Science from Coastal Carolina University, focusing her research and interests in marine invertebrates. She moved to Pensacola to pursue a master’s degree in biology at the University of West Florida, where she studied the effects of light and salinity on bleaching recovery in the upside–down jellyfish, Cassiopea. She is broadly interested in how these long-lived creatures have adapted to environmental changes over time and hopes to use molecular, physiological and ecological tools to determine what might be driving their success. Megan loves to teach undergraduates random things about science and non–science and has a small obsession with paint by number and puzzles.

Misha Miller

Misha Miller

B.Sc. Auburn University (2022)
Misha was an undergraduate in the lab from 2020-2022 at Auburn University. She is currently attending Auburn’s Veterinary school and then pursing her dream of owning my own small animal clinic. She was a microbiology major on a pre-veterinary track with a soft spot for invertebrates! Even though she eventually wants to settle with small animal care, she is interested in exotic animal care particularly with marine animal rescue and rehabilitation.

Emily Wilkins

B.Sc. University of Delaware (2019)
Emily started as a Master’s student in the Fall of 2021 at Auburn University (now in Dr. Kate Buckley’s lab). She is primarily interested in how anthropogenic stressors are impacting coral physiology. Her interest in coral physiology stems from a study abroad to the Little Cayman Island in 2018 where she resided and studied at the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI). While there she received training in AAUS scientific diving and gained experience in conserving and researching coral reef ecosystems. In addition, she used transects and photo quadrats to map coral coverage across the various reefs surrounding the island. She graduated from the University of Delaware in 2019 with a B.S in Marine Science with a concentration in Marine Biology. During her free time she enjoys SCUBA diving, hiking, watching Marvel movies, and baking.